’Tis the season to be thankful and express our gratitude to others. Thanks extended regularly can generate good will and make your business memorable. And that can lead to more business with customers, greater productivity among employees and maybe even faster payments from your business partners.

Here are some small ways to give big thanks, and they don’t have to cost a lot.

Offer perks, prizes or pick-me-ups

Everyone likes a gift – especially when it’s unexpected. These ideas can be a win-win for the recipient and your business:

  • Gift cards, discount coupons and special deliveries for your customers or vendors reward loyalty, can help bring in repeat business, and are a good way to promote your services and products.
  • Employee rewards, whether tangible or not. A holiday bonus or even a small monetary gesture of appreciation can go a long way with employees. An extra (paid) day off around the holidays can also give time-pressed staff a much deserved break. Sometimes a little extra time is the most valuable.

Make it personal with a card or a call

If you are recognizing someone specific, make sure it’s sincere and timely. Expressing your thanks in writing or a personal phone call is one way to do just that. The person will know you took the time to go the extra mile.

“A handwritten note is a powerful tool for small businesses,” says Emily Carter, state director of the Connecticut Small Business Development Center. “Taking the time to follow up with a personal message will strengthen your relationship with customers and help you to stand apart from your competition.”

A phone call can do the same. With the prevalence of electronic communication, sometimes just hearing a real voice on the other end can have special meaning.

Give a shout-out social media style

Leveraging social media platforms, such as your company’s Facebook page or Twitter feed, is a great way to show public recognition to many people at once. Launch a mini thank-you campaign. Design and share a photo thanking your supporters. You could also post or tweet a list of the top ten things your business is thankful for.

Celebrate those who helped make the year a success

Holiday season usually means busy budget season for businesses. Planning festivities might be the last thing on your mind. But hosting an appreciation event doesn’t have to mean splashing out on a lavish soiree.

Consider these low-cost options for your employees:

  • Potluck it! A potluck party can be fun and inexpensive. Make your event employee-only and encourage everyone to make their favorite dish.
  • Wait until the offseason. You’ll be able to negotiate a better deal with popular holiday venues in January.

For your customers and vendors:

  • Host an open house. To help draw visitors, offer a main attraction, such as a wine tasting or raffle prizes for the first 50 customers.
  • Deliver a fruit basket, floral arrangement or holiday goodies to select clients.

A little goes a long way

However you choose to say thank you, remember this: gratitude is infectious and a little goes a long way. Plant the seeds of appreciation now and set the tone for a prosperous year.

What tips do you have on the best ways to say thanks? Share your ideas with us by posting a comment below.