by Christine Curavo | June 23, 2017
Giving a meaningful gift to an employee, a trusted vendor, or a client to say thank you or to acknowledge a life event or holiday may seem simple, but finding a gift that will be truly appreciated isn't as easy as it once was. 

At a time when there have never been so many choices of things to "own," we are deliberately choosing less. We prefer the option of living in a permanent state of ready-to-go as opposed to a lifetime of stay-here. That is not to say we are lacking in loyalty or a willingness to dedicate ourselves to a project or company -- quite the opposite. It's just that flexibility and freedom have become more desirable for the average worker and executive. 

Corporate gifting has changed accordingly. Gone are the days with drawers full of stress balls and desk toys. In Silicon Valley, you may not even have a desk with drawers -- sometimes, not even a desk. The ability to remain focused while being mobile has become a new way of life and we are never more than a few inches away from our phones -- which is where we keep our photos, music, magazines, and all those personal items that no longer take up space on a desk or shelf.

But one thing has not changed: the value of recognition of people for a job well done. No matter how fast technology races us along, it will never replace good relationships. People will always remain the foundation of any successful business.

Here are five tips on designing a great corporate gift in 2017:

Embrace Quality

Promote branded gifts that have stood the test of time or new ones that are making a difference in the world and for the world. People are less likely to toss items that are well made or serve a useful purpose. 

Downplay corporate logos by using a simple tag or discrete embroidery. Let the branded item speak for itself. When traveling to a location, choose quality regional gifts and make it easy to carry them back -- even offering to ship.

Make it Personal

Show you know something about somebody with a gift that complements his or her life in some way.  Acknowledge an achievement, interest, hobby or family situation. Include a hand-written note and sentiment that reflects the situation.

Give Choice

Partner with respected companies to let your recipient choose what they want with a branded gift card or a subscription-based company where they can design their own gift. For example, an Amazon gift card or membership to the healthy-snack service Nature Box.

Consumables with Personality 

The great thing about giving food or alcohol is that it is easy to share, doesn't last long, and provides a fun experience. The recipient doesn't need to worry about where to display or store it. To make it more special, choose high-end products with a great reputation or story.

For example: fresh fruit packed in a decorative box, infused olive oil and vinegar from Sonoma, CA, or special handmade candies from a boutique confectioner.

Don't Overlook Packaging

We are becoming accustomed to packages arriving at our doorsteps without any kind of fanfare, which means you don't need to do much to make a great first impression. The surprise of a gift inside a solid box or wrapped in nice paper, with a ribbon and custom notecard makes a huge impact. When you spend the little extra money or time to present your gift well, you actually send a bigger message of caring. 

Incentive, tradeshow, and sales incentive gifts given on location can all be displayed in a beautiful way for pick up. Quality and presentation invite enthusiasm for a company.

Good Business Means Good Relationships

Rewarding people who work for us, believe in us and spend a good part of their lives helping us succeed is the real magic. Taking time out of our day to know somebody beyond the expected day-to-day chitchat and giving meaningful gifts -- at the right moments, is one way to make a lasting impression. 

Harvard Business School conducted a study that began more than 75 years ago referred to as "The Harvard Grant Study," where they tracked a group of people for 75 years -- childhood to old age -- on a quest to find the secret to happiness and concluded that, at the end of the day, "the only thing that really matters in life is relationships." 

Christine Curavo is the founder of CAREBOX, an online website specializing in premium corporate and personal gifts.  She is an Apple Computer alumnae and the founder of two multimillion dollar Silicon Valley corporations with clients including Apple, BMW, and Charles Schwab. Curavo is also a contemporary etiquette expert and graduate of the Protocol School of Washington -- specializing in corporate and medical business manners and how to create a great customer experience. Contact her at Christine@carebox.com.