The business lunch is a great way to catch up with a client. But the cost can add up quickly, so what are some other options?

High cost, low impact

One idea for a thank-you gift is a box of chocolates. You can give clients a 2 lb. box of Rheo Thomson Corporate Gold Assortment Chocolates for $38.95, plus shipping.

But that adds up if you buy one for each client—100 boxes will cost $3,895, plus shipping. You can also order 100 1 lb. boxes of Purdy’s chocolates for about $2,195, after a volume discount of 20%.

For more health-conscious clients, fruit baskets are a good option (plus, today’s arrangements can be customized with chocolates or other treats). Edible Arrangements has a concierge service for business orders. A banquet-sized arrangement of fruit, and fruit dipped in chocolate, that’s been cut into shapes and placed on skewers is about $260, plus shipping anywhere in Canada.

But chocolates and fruit are forgettable. Most clients likely had their fill over the holidays. Don’t fret. There are better options.

he business lunch is a great way to catch up with a client. But the cost can add up quickly, so what are some other options?

Low cost, high impact

A few decades ago, a good bottle of wine cost a pretty penny. But now you can get a decent one for $12 to $20. Wine and liquor store employees are specially trained to make recommendations at various price points. Also, if you buy a bottle of red at an LCBO in Ontario, but your client prefers white, he can exchange it if it’s unopened.

For clients who don’t drink, Rootham’s gourmet jams, chutneys and dessert sauces are a unique alternative. The company’s gift baskets start at $35 for a set of four 250ml jars, and you can mix and match. A cheeseboard gift set with two selections is $22, and a brie baker with a condiment is $33. Shipping’s extra but the price includes a card and gift-wrapping.

High cost, high impact

Wine IQ has become important, as big business deals are more frequently struck over dinners in high-end restaurants, says Erin Henderson, sommelier with The Wine Sisters in Toronto. So why not arrange a private and educational wine tasting event for your best clients?

Prices vary according to the number of guests and wines selected. Henderson offers customized tours for two to 50 people starting at $200 per person. This includes transportation from hotel, office or home, wine-paired dinner, and meeting with winery owners and wine makers. In Montreal, Ateliers et Saveurs offers public wine tasting classes for about $70 per person.

When only the best will do, take your clients to a five-star restaurant for dinner. This luxury will leave a lasting impression and they’ll remember you when speaking to friends and colleagues.

Joe Beef in Montreal was voted the best restaurant in Canada in 2013 by The menu is written on a blackboard and changes often. Also, there’s a two-month wait for reservations, so you’ll have to call ahead to find out costs and availability. Another option in Montreal is Toqué!, which has appetizers from $19 to $26 and entrees from $42 to $50. Langdon Hall, in Cambridge, Ont., was voted the second best on Appetizers are $18 to $21, and entrees from $29 to $44. In St. John’s, N.L., Raymond’s Restaurant has Acadian caviar for $80, a seafood appetizer platter for two for $50, and entrees from $38 to $49. These prices don’t include taxes or tip.

Lisa MacColl is an Ontario-based financial writer.