WRITTEN BY ANNA LEWKOWSKA
With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to give a Thank You to those who’ve helped your career.
This includes your agents and managers, casting directors and directors, publicists and attorneys, acting teachers, coaches and whoever else had a hand in helping your dreams come a little bit more true. Because whether we like it or not, Hollywood is a gift-giving industry, but knowing what to give isn’t always easy. I’ve been helping actors decide what to give their agents and managers for years. I’ve also been closely listening to other agents and managers for clues on what they like to receive. And before I make it sound like we’re ungrateful for your show of gratitude, let me explain. All my industry peers agree that we don’t need gifts, because if we needed something, we would simply go out and buy it. But the gifts come anyway and it’s joyful to receive something that we will truly enjoy. So how can you make sure to master this annual endeavor?
The art of gift giving is the art of listening.
It means actually getting to know your agent and manager as a person, outside of just the breakdowns, auditions and bookings that you normally discuss. Like any relationship, your goal should be to understand your rep’s likes and dislikes and hobbies and cares. Do they have a family? Do they take an annual camping trip to Yosemite each year? Is your agent big into Disneyland and all things Mickey? Or does your manager attempt to always hit the newest restaurants in town? Are they always on point with their makeup? Or are they huge baseball fans? I encourage that the longer you work with your team, the more you try to get to know them. Take notes on bits of information you pick up on about their interests so you know what to get when it comes time to gift-giving. Plus, you’ll benefit from the stronger bond that you’ll ultimately build with your team.
Another great way to learn more about your rep is with social media. With most people on it, it’s an easy way to gather more hints on how your agent or manager ticks and tocks. No photos of them in a scarf? Don’t buy them that scarf. But are they always wearing funky socks? That could be something. Or are they always posting about their organic lunch salad? Then maybe that box of donuts isn’t for them. But do they always mention how they pour hot sauce on all their food? Hmmmm. Pay attention to these details. This kind of investment of time will put you on a better track to making sure your gifts always show that you care.
Finally, if you’re still feeling lost on what to gift, here’s the ultimate hack. Call that agent or manager’s assistant or colleague. Don’t be afraid to say, “I want to get a Thank You for ‘X’ but I’m not fully sure what they’d like. What do you suggest I get that they would really enjoy?” Trust me, everyone will love to help you. If there’s no assistant around, try reaching out to a friend, another industry colleague or an actor that’s been with your rep longer to get the full scoop. There’s no reason not to get a few solid suggestions with some digging around.
And what if you don’t nail the perfect gift for your agent or manager?
Will we forever remember how you clearly missed that we only like soy candles and not regular candles? No way! Like I said, we don’t need anything and the thought does count. But, I will say this. In my opinion, a bad gift is the sign of poor money management. Nothing makes me more upset than actors spending their hard-earned money in the wrong ways. Most actors are on a budget so when they fail to do some research and just grab anything from the drugstore before coming to my office, it makes me sad that they wasted money on something that I won’t use. Be financially smart and make sure your money always counts, grow deeper relationships with your team and make gift giving easy and fun. Just listen.
How Much Should I Spend?
The other big question I’m always asked is how much an actor should spend on a gift. Unfortunately, there is no one right answer. First and foremost, you know your finances best of all and know what you can afford so work off of that. If you don’t have the budget this year, then a heartfelt card goes a long way. (But I do suggest that you get in the habit of putting some money aside for this time of year.) If you have a large team comprised of many agents, a manager, a team of publicists, stylists and whomever else- Congrats! But again, this might put a strain on how much you can spend on each person’s gift. Typically, there is a correlation between how long an actor has been with a representative and the amount they might spend on a gift. Just like you probably wouldn’t spend hundreds of dollars on someone you first start dating, the same rule applies here. On the other hand, the more success you gain and the more money you make with your team, the more you might spend on a Thank You.
What About Assistants?
They count too! Often times assistants are the ones spending just as much or even more time working on you than your agents or managers or lawyers. They’re handling all the small details that make a big difference in your career. Don’t forget to show them that their help was noticed with a small token of appreciation.
Food & Alcohol & What!?
Foods/Desserts/Pastries can be a great drop off throughout the year but come the holidays, almost every agent and manager I speak with says ‘PASS!’ The pounds and pounds of chocolate and cookies we get for Christmas can get ridiculous. Heck, just because we aren’t in front of a camera doesn’t mean we don’t want those beach bods, too!
Alcohol can be a very solid gift for the holidays! Of course, do research and make sure that your rep drinks alcohol and also, what kind they prefer. On the other hand, I have run into several agents that say they get so many bottles of wine during this time of year that they end up re-gifting or selling on eBay! Not necessarily a bad thing.
And finally, any actor that does this surely deserves a lump of coal in their stocking. Do NOT put your headshot on a mug or mouse pad or blanket or iPhone case and gift it to me. It’s just tacky and pretty weird. I don’t want to snuggle with your giant face while trying to relax and watch Netflix. Just, no.
Fun Gift Ideas
You should already know what to gift your team but here are some possible fun ideas. (Click on pictures for links!)
PRESSED JUICES– A popular gift to give all year round! Located all around Los Angeles.
MASTERCLASS– Give the gift of learning from top industry professionals like chefs, directors, writers, athletes and more.
PHENOMENALY WOMAN– T-shirts with different sayings that benefit 7 fearless organizations!
FRANCESCA’S EARRINGS & JEWELRY– I think this store has some of the best earrings and jewelry! Locations all around Los Angeles.
MYINTENT BRACELETS– Trendy bracelets with intentions!
SEPHORA HOLIDAY PERFUME SAMPLER– 15 samples of perfume and then you bring in the one you like most for the FULL-SIZE perfume of your choice!
MAKE-UP BRUSH SET– 16 piece set of amazing cosmetic brushes plus bag.
KOREAN SHEET MASKS– 24 variety pack of all-natural sheet masks!
LUSH GIFT SETS– Amazingly natural beauty products!
HOT SAUCE MAKING KIT
KOMBUCHA STARTER KIT
REPUBLIC OF TEA- some of the best tea in individual, non-bleached pouches with hundreds of flavors to choose from!
HERMES SCARF– If you’re looking for something more expensive.
LUXURY BALLPOINT PEN
ANOTHER FUN CARD GAME- CONCEPT
GIR KITCHEN TOOLS– The #1 kitchen tools out there. All silicone, heat resistant, easy to clean, sleek and sexy. They come in 12 amazing colors!
STAINLESS STEEL STRAWS– Join the movement!
SWELL BOTTLES– Sleek and with a variety of designs & sizes, Swell bottles are useful to anyone!
SOY CANDLES– These are my favorite soy candles I found. Incredible variety of strong scents. All natural soy. Last a long time. Sleek, simple design for any home.
THE BIG PICTURE– Incredible book about the future of the movie business.
BECOMING– by Michelle Obama.
EDUCATED– One of the best memoirs of 2018.
And Finally, Gift Cards
Gift cards get a bad rep for being the ‘lazy gift’ but, in fact, most agents and managers I speak to prefer gift cards. It’s the next best thing to cash! So if you’re still not 100% sure on what to gift your team, don’t hesitate to get that card. With unlimited possibilities, it will ensure that your money will not go to waste since we’ll choose exactly what we like. Popular gift cards to give include cards to the movie theatres, massage therapies, spas, restaurants near our offices or homes, Amazon, Whole Foods, clothing stores and more.
I want to thank EACH & EVERY ONE OF YOU for reading & supporting Actors For Lunch. 2019 will bring even more knowledge to you with guest writers, Hollywood interviews, and more. Please share this article with your friends and continue to spread this site. Comment, Re-Post, Re-Tweet! Follow @actorsforlunch on Instagram. HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!!!!!!!