by Donna M. Airoldi | August 03, 2010
It’s August already, which means autumn is right around the corner and it’s not too soon to start thinking about corporate holiday gift orders.

One product that's always a hit with clients and employees is gourmet chocolate, and Lake Champlain Chocolates is already getting ready for their busy season by expanding its product line, designing new packaging for fall and holiday gifts, and offering a flat-rate shipping discount for clients who order early.

“The flat-rate shipping promotion can be a huge savings, particularly for corporate customers with one hundred different addresses across the country,” said Meghan Fitzpatrick, marketing specialist for the Burlington, VT–based company, which has been producing specialty chocolate products for 26 years. “Last year was the first year we offered the discount, and it was so successful we’re repeating it this year, but trying to get the word out a little earlier to give more clients time to take advantage of it. Plus it helps us—as the holiday nears, the more we can space out the orders, the better.”

The cut-off date for early orders is yet to be determined, but “last year’s deadline was November 13, so it’ll be sometime in early November,” said Fitzpatrick. Lake Champlain Chocolates also offers volume discounts that are on par with the industry, and as well as saves gifting lists year after year.

The 15-piece assortment box ($29) has been the company’s biggest gift seller, followed by the Chocolates of Vermont holiday box, which added a 16-piece option ($23.95) this year. Two years ago Lake Champlain Chocolates added Sea Salt Caramels ($12.50 for seven pieces) to its catalog—vanilla caramel cooked in copper kettles, hand cut, covered in dark chocolate, and sprinkled with sea salt—and it’s proven so popular that two new flavors are being added to the collection: Pecan Caramels, and Chocolate and Peanut Butter Caramels. The company has completely redesigned the packaging for its sea salt line this year too, making it “more gift-looking,” said Fitzpatrick.

Other new seasonal offerings:

- Caramel Pumpkin gift bag, featuring dark chocolate with caramel inside. $8.95 for 11 pieces
- Pumpkin and Leaves gift bag, with assorted peanut butter, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, pumpkin caramels, and milk caramels. $18.95 for 18 pieces
- Spiked Caramel in snowflake shapes in dark chocolate with ginger-rum caramel. $11.95 for 13 pieces
- Two new hot chocolate flavors: Mountain Mint, and Chai and Mighty. $8.95 for a 16 oz. canister
- Peppermint Cheer, the appearance of a peanut-butter cup but with white chocolate on the top and bottom with a dark-chocolate mint center instead, with sprinkles of peppermint on top. $5.95 for three cups

Most orders placed by 2 p.m. can be shipped the same day. The company ships to all 50 states, but does not make international deliveries. To order, visit www.lakechamplainchocolates.com or call (800) 465-5909.

“We know it’s still early for corporate holiday orders, but we’ve been fielding more calls on the year-end front the past few weeks, sending thank you gifts to new clients or repeat customers, and from local colleges with orientation orders and welcome gifts for new parents and students,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s been encouraging.”