I've been busy tonight working on one of my favorite gifts of the year: my annual holiday pizza and cookies party for the staff over at Miami Veterinary Specialists. For all they do for me, my patients, and my own pets, how could I fail to offer their (sizable) staff a big "thank you" in the fashion of a really good pizza lunch (no carry-out here), with homemade goodies for dessert?

But I won't be offering it this week. Nope, I'm just getting a head start on next week. Because guess what? I have a trick up my sleeve I've decided to share: Holiday gifts are always best when offered after people expect to receive them.

Which is a perfect entry to the rest of this post, one in which I will detail some gift ideas your veterinarian and his/her staff will remember forever. So just in case you already gave at the office, I suggest you bookmark this post for future reference.

1. A coffee traveler. You know what this is. It's a cardboard box full of coffee. It's not pricey and my, how it beats the heck out of a box of chocolates.

NB: It's not that we don't LOVE chocolates. The problem is this: By December 18, or thereabouts, we've consumed so much chocolate there's no way we're eating any more and getting as much satisfaction. And let's face it, we get SO much chocolate that unless you're plying us with Scharffen Berger delectables or homemade truffles, we're not likely to remember it as well as … well, something more creative:

2. Homemade truffles. Yes, these won this year. Fine chocolate whose calories were well worth Every. Glorious. Mouthful.

3. Homemade hot chocolate. I know it sounds strange but one year a client brought in a huge pot of the kind of thick hot chocolate you can only make if you're Hispanic. OK, so maybe you can be any nationality and make great hot chocolate, but somehow the really thick, gooey stuff always seems to be made by Mexicans or Columbians. Just saying. Anyhoo, it was awesome and I wish someone would make me some.

But enough of the chocolate. How about …

4. A "get out of jail free" kitten card. Sounds strange, but this is a truly amazing gift for any veterinary hospital. Offer to take on the very next "unwanted" kitten that comes through the hospital's doors. You, as your offer goes, will also take on the responsibility of finding it a forever home. Brilliant, right?

Or this …

5. "Cage-cozies." Most hospitals I've worked at go through lots of what I call cage cozies. These are the stuffed animals we de-string and de-eye (for safety) and offer to our smaller patients for extra cage comfort. They might also be old baby blankets or hoodie-towels. Bring in a bag of comfy stuff like this and our place will be in heaven. (You might want to check with the office manager before offering something that doesn't mesh with the culture of the place.)

6. Donations to charities. Always sweet, and always welcome. Ask the office manager which charities the docs and staff like best and donate in their name, or donate to a local shelter in their name.

7. Yourself! Are you in the animal biz? Donate a training or grooming session to the next needy client. Or offer a staff photo. Get creative with your craft and the rewards will be more than just goodwill.

OK, so now it's your turn. What did you get for your vet this year?

But then, I guess this question — indeed this entire post — assumes a lot. If your vet and his or her staff was not worthy, or if you happen to opt out of holiday gifting altogether (and I wouldn't blame you), definitely do NOT bookmark this post. But then, if you are of that perspective, you've not even made it this far, have you?

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: "Christmas" by reivax