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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Gifts for your Team

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Judy, one of our readers, just sent me a very nice email, asking:

Hi Erin,

Here's a question for you that maybe you want to put out there to the group - how does one keep in touch at this time of year without seeming to be - er - brown-nosing? For instance, there's a casting director I've just finished taking a class with, and in addition to being extremely helpful in the class, she actually called me in for an audition that resulted in a "hold."  I have an idea for a nice little gift for her - as well as a couple for my two agents - but I always feel like this smacks of sucking up!  Maybe there's no way around this?

I've also wondered what people do about holiday cards for agents and casting directors - whether people personalize their usual postcards, send regular greeting cards, make their own from scratch or whatever.  I've asked a bunch of people and they all say "do whatever feels comfortable for you!"  Errgggh.

Anyway, thanks for any advice on this.  And happy holidays to you!

Howdy, Judy! These are really great questions, and I am happy to help! The truth is, the "right" thing to do depends on the recipient, but I will try to give you some concrete explanations to help you make a decision that is best for you.

First, let me start by saying that gifts for agents, casting directors and managers are hot topics of discussion this time of year! I follow number of agents on Twitter, and here is what is being tossed around (some agents have "tweeted" multiple times, which I have included, along with links to their Twitter profiles):

stgactor Our office is asking our actors not 2 bring us gifts. Instead contribute to a cause for holiday family assistance that I am involved with!

diaryofanagent Truthfully I'd rather you do something nice for my Assistant who works her tush off making me look good while I get all the credit! ;0)

diaryofanagent If you want to get a gift, take a look within walking distance of the Agency and get a gift card to a restaurant nearby. It doesn't have to be expensive, just convenient.

TalentAgentLA If you ask your agent they will tell you not to get them anything. That's code for, a bottle of wine or gift certificates please.

TalentAgentLA Our office is packed with cookies/candies/food baskets/chocolates/nuts/etc. More than our entire office could ever eat. And it's the 14th.

agentadvice Came to the office with 3 packages from clients!! Yay!!! ....all of it is chocolate.... just what these hips need. haha

agentadvice Chocolate covered fruit.... WHAAAAT :)

diaryofanagent Got a wonderful gift from a client today. She went 2 Trader Joes and bought 1 of their reusable grocery bags and put in her fave products!

diaryofanagent It had sweets but they were bagged & won't go bad if I save them till the new year. And the shopping bag will remind me of her when I shop!

So, as you can see, these folks often get (and often expect) some niceties at the end of the year. If you tip your mail carrier, your super, and your stylists, I think recognizing your reps is a good idea, ESPECIALLY if they went above and beyond for you during the year. For my male reps, I usually get some sort of gift certificate, along with a card. Sometimes I will send easy-to-care-for plants (like small bamboo plants.) For women, I'll often send lightly scented candles, or other things that can make their days more tranquil (who knows, maybe the men would appreciate this too!) Anything you would consider giving a boss would be appropriate - and if the gift is thoughtful, it will not seem like "sucking up."

As far as holiday cards, I think it depends upon your budget. It is IMPERATIVE (I know, I'm shouting...) that you include your photo in the greeting, whether it be a photo business card or postcard you stuff into the card, or whether your holiday greeting is written on the back of your postcard. Without your photo, it may be hard for them to put a face to your name. If you can afford to buy holiday cards and put your business card inside them, I'd say that's your best bet. I would highly recommend choosing a card that reflects your personal style and attitudes- if you're funny, send something humorous. If you a cheerful and warm, perhaps something that reflects that sensibility. Let them get to know you a little bit as a result of this holiday greeting.

I hope this has been helpful. Let me know if you have any questions, and good luck with the giving!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out

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