This is a blog post to accompany this full podcast episode of the same title! Check it out here!
I have spent a lot of money in the past on gifts for reps who I hardly knew, didn’t like, or barely got along with. Mostly because I read this mildly offensive article in 2012 and thought it was gospel. I have also gotten fantastic gifts for my people on different occasions, though I have to say the holidays are my least favorite time to give them.
Typically your reps would be swimming in cookies, candy, and bottles of booze they didn’t ask for right about now. And perhaps you have convinced yourself that your delivery of overpriced wine will be the thing that gets you auditions next year. Gifts are a nice gesture, an acknowledgment of a year of hard work together, and yet they have become so stressful and almost “required”.
Especially this year as we have all probably had way less auditions and probably less (maybe zero) bookings…do we still get reps gifts? Did we ever need them? What happens if we’re “the one client” who doesn’t send one?? Don’t worry, I asked them for you so it’s not awkward. Here are the questions I sent out to ~20 busy agents and managers, mine and a lot of yours (thanks for that btw!).
How do you feel about holiday gifts this year?
Logistically speaking…if you’re not in the office how do you get them?
Would you notice if you didn’t receive them from clients?
If you could tell actors anything about gifting (like do’s or don’ts, things to avoid) what would it be?
All the answers I received are listed below for you to check out and the podcast episode of the same name has a lot more drawn conclusions of all this info.
PS: If you want to send me a gift you can review the podcast…and then share your review on Instagram. XOXO LOL
-Truly never think about gifts. When I receive I’m grateful and I always remember.
-We are all on unemployment so it seems kinda silly to be worried about getting reps gifts this year.
-I’m happy about getting gifts but I would rather they just send money.
-It’s been a tough year for everyone so I completely understand if clients aren’t in a position to do anything
-I mean, I like gifts, but no one should ever feel obligated.
-I don’t feel that anyone needs to worry about holiday gifts this year. If you really want to thank your agents for their work, a simple ‘thank you’ email goes a long way. If you had a particularly good year and are insistent on giving back, consider a Post-mates gift card or something along those lines.
-Gifts are still a nice way to show appreciation for your reps but I do understand that this year has presented a lot of financial difficulties.
-I personally don’t feel that they’re necessary. It’s been a tough year on everyone, and I think just a nice card showing appreciation will suffice.
-I have always felt that most of my actors can’t really afford to spend $ on gifts so I don’t expect it…the most meaningful gifts show that my client knows me….so a small donation to their fav charity or to the ASPCA or a heartfelt card that shows their appreciation.
-Amazon to the office address. No perishables.
-Actors would have to either mail them to my P.O. Box or drop them off at my house which I don’t LOVE having them know where I live lol
-I would ask the agent or assistant, it depends on the person. The agent might feel comfortable giving you their home address or they may just tell you to send it to the office. I know our office is still accepting packages for people but I’ve gotten gifts from clients sent directly to my home during the pandemic as well.
-If you are wanting to do something, logistically a gift card via email makes the most sense.
-Checking on company policy, but thinking they’d go to the office and we’d pick them up when we can.
-No idea – I’d hope mailroom would forward if it was specifically for me but no idea what they would do if it was sent to the department
-Most agents still have physical addresses, and we can pick up gifts if absolutely necessary, but A LOT of people are working remotely – some even from different states. If you’re going to send something, consider something that can be emailed. Worst-case, ask the agent or their assistant where you can send a gift. It might ruin the element of surprise (if that’s something that’s important to you,) but that’s the least of the things COVID has ruined this year.
-I get gifts delivered to my home in Santa Monica 🙂
-We have a PO Box where we receive all of our mail. I understand that that isn’t the case for some people, so that’s another reason to maybe just send a virtual card or any kind of virtual appreciation.
-I can’t tell you how many times actors have dropped off gifts to the Hollywood blvd address, only for me to tell the person at the door to take the flowers for themselves or the box of candy for themselves. Especially these days….I would not send gifts to an address.
-No but if I were talent I would email to say be on the lookout maybe.
– I use to notice when I was an agent but don’t think about it much any more. I really do appreciate gifts and cards and can always remember the gifts actors have given. So the gesture is always a beautiful thing with no expectations.
-If your rep holds it against you that u didn’t get them a gift YOU NEED A NEW REP, a card is always nice as I send cards to all my clients and associates. But I would never hold it against a client or take “note”
-No – but the rare exception is if I know that client has made a lot of money because of me, then yes. If you made 40 grand through me, no I don’t expect a gift but if you made 400 grand through me, yeah I would expect something. There’s a select number of people where if I didn’t get something from them I would definitely notice it, but I’m not surprised when I don’t get a gift from most people.
-Honest answer, I’d only notice if I didn’t get something from a client who has booked consistently throughout the year.
-Not this year.
-It would be difficult not to notice as it’s a sweet part of our end of the year. I would notice, but completely understand.
-I notice actors who send them to me, but I don’t go down a list to see who hasn’t.
-I never expect anything UNLESS….the particular actor made lots of $$ then at the very least I would hope for is a heartfelt card expressing appreciation.
-If you could tell actors anything about gifting (like do’s or don’ts, things to avoid) what would it be?
-No food ! No sweets. No alcohol. Find out what they love.
-Make sure you know if your rep drinks or not. Many people in the industry are sober. Don’t flood them with chocolates and sugar, coffee gift cards are always nice, a simple xmas card with a thank you is PLENTY
-Ask the agent what they want or what they’re needing or find out information about the agent personally. For example, I stopped drinking alcohol this year and I’m trying to buy a house, so instead of you spending $50 on a nice bottle of wine I will never drink, I’d rather you Venmo me or give me a Visa gift card or a Home Depot gift card or something. And remember, getting a gift for your agent is not the same as going to a white elephant party with people you don’t like. Also food is unnecessary, especially right now since we can’t share it with the whole office.
-Obviously baked goods wouldn’t be ideal right now lol
-Don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money. Just the thought counts.
-Make sure your name is on it!
-In general, don’t send sweets. Even in a normal year, if thirty clients send a dozen cupcakes, my support staff and I can’t keep up. We’ve tried to donate as much food as possible in the past, but sweets aren’t great for that. If you’re going to send something, either make it very personal or very practical. A meal, a book, office supplies. Something that we can actually use (and I don’t mean steno pads with your face on the front of them!) or, if you know us well (or can get our assistants to give up our hobbies), then something personalized could be appropriate. In general, though, I would rather you save your money, put it into your career, or get something nice for my assistant, who is overworked, under-appreciated, and very instrumental to your career.
-Please no mugs! And remember to check if your reps have allergies or if they even drink alcohol before making those purchases. Giftcards may seem boring but at least you’ll know your rep will get what they really want.
-I think I would just tell actors to gift anything thoughtful. It doesn’t have to be expensive at all. It just needs to show their appreciation. Reps work 24/7 for our clients, and we need to feel appreciated every now and again. It makes my day to just get a really thoughtful text message or email.
-Don’t worry about it….I think if every actor sent their agent a heartfelt card of appreciation that would be enough.
-I do sometimes receive gifts from clients but sometimes the gift is a verbal gift. As much as I appreciate those gifts I don’t ever expect them.
-In regards to things to avoid…I try to always avoid alcohol because you do not know if that person drinks or not, there are those people out there that are recovering alcoholics. I try to think of gifts that are creative that would make them always think of you but is not in their face marketing (if you know what I mean). For example when I was a child I got an MTV movie in Puerto Rico. So I brought back these mini pencil stands that were significant to Puerto Rico and I gave one to my rep and to the Casting office for them to put their pens and pencils in. It was really cool but it also suddenly reminded them of me.
I have many, many thoughts on agent gifts. Namely: DON’T GET THEM. I don’t know a single agent who wouldn’t rather you spend your money on headshots, classes, hell even rent, before spending it on us. It is absolutely not expected, and it is absolutely not mandatory.
One time I think it’s nice to get a ‘thank you’ gift is when a client has had a particularly good year — in 2020, no one has had a particularly good year. Unfortunately, most of the gifts seem to come from people who are nearer the bottom of the earners list; maybe clients trying to curry favor or thank us for not dropping them? I don’t know that I’m necessarily that cynical, but it gives me feelings of guilt when people are spending more money than I’ve helped them make. I just think we’re all dealing with so much pressure and stress right now, the last thing anyone should be worried about is getting their agent a gift.
Personally speaking, I’ve always thought it was a bit classy to get the assistant something. Even just a Starbucks gift card goes a long way. When I was an assistant, I saved up enough Target gift cards over the years that I was able to buy a nice camera I’d had my eye on. But even then, it’s definitely not necessary.
Every year, I tell my assistant to answer the inevitable emails with “He doesn’t want anything. No, no, he really insists. Okay, if you absolutely have to get something, he would like a donation to Charity X.” I have never gotten the donation to Charity X. Not once.
This time of year is fraught with questions of etiquette, and I think actors are worried about offending their agents. I promise: We won’t be offended if you don’t get us a gift. We won’t even notice. Maybe that’s bad, but it’s true.