Food is often one of the most popular gifts this time of year, but it's a dangerous way to go. Clients seem to favor those Superman-sized baskets that contain enough food to feed the population of Peru. But we have more than 100 clients on our list, and if they all send one over, we're going to be drowning in unwanted calories. Most of us are watching our weight and would prefer not to end up as contestants on "The Biggest Loser." So if you're set on giving your agents edible goodies, be a little more creative. We've had clients surprise us with homemade treats that are delicious and low-fat. Last year one actor hit a home run by giving us a gift certificate for a famous rib house in Memphis that ships overnight. (No, ribs aren't low-fat, but we were able to order them months later when the office wasn't dripping with sugar.)
Another popular gift is booze. To me, a bottle of wine is a safe and generic choice, but it's an acceptable way to go. Just make sure you know what you're doing. No organic crap from Whole Foods. If you're not a wine expert, have someone like the Paul Giamatti character in "Sideways" help you pick out the wine. But again, I'm sure you can be more creative than that. A client once gave me a bottle of something called Demerara Rum with instructions on how to create an amazing tropical drink. That was definitely a memorable choice, and I still have a little bit left. Ah, the gift that keeps on giving….
At this point, I'm willing to bet my Blu-ray copy of "A Christmas Story" that some of you are balking at the idea of spending money on your agents. If that's true, then shame on you. This is the time of year when you're supposed to show some gratitude to the people who work on your behalf. And you know what? Agents keep a list of every present that comes in, so we can send a thank-you note after the holidays. Wouldn't it be weird if your name wasn't on that list?
Now, look, I understand most of you aren't exactly rolling in dough. That's fine. You don't have to spend a fortune to show some gratitude. To this day, the best Christmas gift I ever got was from a young client who surprised me by dropping by and singing a song for us on her ukulele. She had written it herself, and it was so good we let calls go to voice mail while we listened to her sing. (Under normal circumstances, agents would rather have a root canal than let calls go to voice mail.)
As for the worst gift, a client once gave me a wall calendar that had pictures of him for every month of the year. Under each picture, there were glowing reviews of his work in different plays.
And on that heartwarming note, Secret Agent Man would like to wish all of you a safe and wonderful holiday season.