As a kid, coming up with holiday gifts used to be easy - an apple for the teacher, mom's homemade cookies for the bus driver, an ornament for your parents made with a little help from your shop teacher. In the grown-up corporate world, however, gift giving is a big business, and the winter holidays prove to be the most appropriate time to say "thanks" to your all-important associates, employees and customers.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as last-minute shopping when it comes to unique corporate gift giving. According to Robin White, founder of Godfrey & Alexander, a Sterling, Va.-based company specializing in corporate gifts, the time to start planning for these holiday treasures is Oct. 1. Of course, she says, there are things you can pull together in November or December, but "the nicest items are often gone by then," and it's often too late to "personalize," with an imprint, for example. And, for a totally custom job or a large quantity, White suggests starting the planning in August.
Topping the List
Need some unique ideas for your corporate loved ones? According to White, silver and leather items are "always winners since they carry such a high perceived value." One of her success stories is a silver clock and picture frame with the company's logo and the person's initials inscribed at the bottom. "It had both functionality and a personal touch," she says. For something that can be creatively customized, White suggests high-end gift baskets filled with champagne and gourmet oils and vinegars. And electronics, such as clock radios with international displays and travel alarm clocks, are "always big."
White also suggests sending standard favorites that are wrapped in keepsake packaging. Candy, for example, can be contained in an attractive wooden box with your company's name and logo. The box will be treasured (and hopefully kept on a desktop) long after the treats are gone! Or, send some soothing CDs in a personalized wooden crate that recipients will keep and add to with their own collections.
If you start early, you can get really creative and prepare a custom gift. For instance, West designed our own clocks one year and had Godfrey & Alexander handle the production of the artwork and the assembly of the clock "works." Or, for example, there's an acrylic frame product in which you can create your own background, have it digitally printed and inserted into the border of the frame, and then give as a gift for recipients to insert their own photo. Your design firm can help with the creative end if need be.
Finally, White suggests being a little creative with the time in which you send a corporate gift. A gift at Thanksgiving will stand out much more than one that is received among many others a month later. (Thanksgiving is also an appropriate time to say "thank you.") Or, you could order gifts in bulk at the beginning of the year and then appropriately distribute them at the time of each recipient's birthday. Or, to be really different, celebrate "Christmas in July" with a summertime gift.
Remember, it only takes a bit of creativity and some thoughtful planning to be a hit during the holidays. It may cost a little more than the apple for the teacher, but it will certainly take you to the top of the class!
Westbound recently asked some of our clients about the most unique and memorable corporate gifts they had received in past years. While we're pleased to report that some of our past treats topped their lists, here are some other company gifts that made a lasting impression!
Original article found in The Westbound Loupe, Vol. 3, No. 1, Fall 1998.