It seems far too early to even begin thinking about Christmas, but the truth is that it will be here before you know it and the sooner you can get your holiday shopping done, the better! This is especially true if one of your tasks at work includes doing holiday shopping for your clients or employees as many of these gifts need to be ordered ahead of time. If you’re looking to get your shopping done early this year, we’ve got some great tips and ideas for you!
Why Shop Early?
Because it’s only October, many people might wonder why they should be shopping so early. Don’t they have plenty of time before the holidays? There are a number of reasons why shopping early is a good idea, though.
“Shopping early allows you to keep your eye out for truly special pieces for everyone on your list,” says Ashlie Hadden with Embellish. “What can be better than giving a personal and meaningful gift during the holiday season? It is so nice to pick up items here and there to create a special gift assortment for everyone on your list.”
Kelly Merklein with Blu Velvet adds, “I think the advantage to early shopping is that people will be able to get a better selection of sizes and looks when it comes to shopping at boutiques. I have gotten the bulk of my fall merchandise, so now is the time to find a better selection. I will be getting new things later in the year, but nowhere near the amount that we have now. Also, I think early shoppers will be able to choose from a wider price range of items as the lower price range items will get picked over first. In other words, you will get more for your money earlier because of the larger selection.”
I’m sure all of us have tried to do some last minute shopping and gotten stuck in endless lines, impossible parking lots and other shoppers who are just as frazzled and frustrated as you are. Why deal with this if you don’t have to? If you visit the stores now, it’s likely the lines are still manageable, the merchandise is not picked over and that you won’t be parking in the outer reaches of the lot.
Shopping early also helps take some stress off the holidays as they get closer. There are so many things we need to take care of as the holidays approach: having guests at our home, traveling, cooking, decorating…sometimes the list seems endless and many of the tasks, you don’t have the option of taking care of ahead of time. Why not get some of your gift list handled so you don’t have to worry about it when crunch time comes?
There is so much to choose from for holiday gifts, whether you are looking to buy for employees, co-workers, clients or friends and family. The best part is, all of these gifts can be purchased locally, many times from locally owned businesses. If you’re looking for ideas, here are a few suggestions from our experts!
Specialty items, including imprinted and screen-printed apparel and promotional products such as pens, mugs, coolers, and duffel bags, are great ideas for client and employee gifts. Not only are they nice, high-quality gifts, but it’s also wonderful branding for your business as most specialty items are imprinted with your company’s logo and/or contact information.
“There are so many great specialty items that you can give to your valued clients,” says Frosty Critchfield with Frosty’s Specialty Advertising. “Some of my favorite items include decks of playing cards, flashlights that clients can keep in their cars, on their bedside tables or in the kitchen drawer, thermometers that can be put in kitchen windows or back yards, and sets of coasters which feature a medallion with the company’s logo on it. One of the new things that has just come out is a metal-bladed gas grill spatula. The blade is six inches long by four inches wide and a logo can be laser cut into the blade—perfect for tailgating parties. A popular item every year is the travel alarm. Many of your clients probably travel and don’t trust the hotel alarm clocks or want a back-up to the morning wake-up call, so these make great, useful gifts. I’m also fond of zippered leather travel wallets with a logo embossed in the leather and a metal plate the features the name of the recipient. Personalized gifts go a lot further in the emotional reception of them, so I try to suggest personalizing whenever possible.”
When ordering specialty items for the holidays, remember to order early. “The closer we get to the end of the year, the more the factories are in a rush,” explains Frosty. “If you want something by December 1st, you should definitely order it by the first of November. Most companies are not keeping as much inventory on hand as they were a few years ago, so you have to take into account travel time from wherever the products are coming from. Order early to be safe!”
When planning corporate gifts, keep in mind that you don’t have to get everyone on your list the same thing. Many business owners choose to send larger gifts to their bigger or more long-term clients and smaller gifts to new clients or those who don’t do as much business with them. You can also consider pairing the specialty item with another, non-specialty item gift, such as food (think a bag of specialty popcorn or candy in an imprinted mug), gift certificates (a windbreaker with your company logo on it paired with a gift certificate to a golf store, for example) or other items.
Another good idea when it comes to giving specialty items as corporate gifts is to hand deliver them whenever possible. If your clients live in the same city as you, there is no reason why you can’t take an afternoon off from work and take the gifts directly to your client. Not only will it impress them that you took the time to come in yourself, but it also gives you a chance to make that all-important client contact and strengthen your relationship.
For the fashionista on your list, take to the local boutiques to find some of the newest trends to give as gifts! “Fur trimmed sweaters and accessories are so big this year,” says Kelly Merklein with Blu Velvet. “The combination of textures is something really new in fashion this year.”
Ashlie Hadden with Embellish adds, “There are so many fun trends this season. Chunky sweaters are in and perfect for our harsh Nebraska winters and so comfy to pair with skinny jeans and leggings and boots. Polka dots are a new trend and such a fun and whimsical print! They add a feminine touch to the wardrobe and are great for layering with solids or other prints, like stripes. The Midi-Skirt (with hemlines around mid-calf) is a trend we started seeing a bit this summer, but you’ll love them for fall. These styles are great for pairing with flats right now and layering with tights to show off your cute boots for winter. Pleats are everywhere, too, in pants, skirts and dresses and capes and ponchos are going to be huge. Finally, we’re seeing a lot of colored bags and these are perfect for adding a pop of color to outfits, from red to blue to green, jewel tones are the hottest colors!”
Cherie Travis from Rachel’s Boutique concludes, “Leggings and long flowing tops and sweaters with riding boots will still be strong and olive green is making a strong appearance in leather handbags, leather goods, shoes and clothing. Finally, bold statement jewelry like pendants, long beaded necklaces, fun stretch rings and bracelets/bangles will be very big this season.”
A note to keep in mind if you are considering buying clothing for someone on your list: if you aren’t sure about their size, you should consider buying items where size doesn’t matter (socks, accessories or purses, for example) or rely on getting gift certificates. Buying the wrong size of clothing not only runs the risk of offending the recipient, but it’s also a possibility that they will never take the item in to exchange for the right size and your gift will be wasted.
Bath and Body Products and Accessories
Who doesn’t love being pampered? Bath and body products are a great gift idea for many people on your gift list, especially if you aren’t sure what size they wear or their tastes in fashion.
Kelly with Blu Velvet says, “We have a new line of body care items called Love and Toast that includes items ranging in price from five to fifteen dollars. This line is really fun and smells amazing. We also have some great accessories this year that also range in price from five dollars on up. Feathers in jewelry and hair items are really popular and can really make an outfit. The colors in feathers are so rich and add texture to your look.”
“We have an assortment of the Lollia body products including bubble bath, candles, hand cream and newly introduced shower gel,” adds Ashlie from Embellish. “The scents are amazing and unique, perfect for gift giving. We also have Aspen Bay candles, which offer a range of scents. ‘Volcano’ is the crowd favorite and always puts a smile on the recipients’ face!”
Katie Kimbrough with Mary Kay says, “We have gift giving packages starting at $10 each which are great for Secret Santa, gift baskets, holiday makeovers to get ready for that big work holiday party and, my favorite, the pillow gift to tell that special someone you were thinking about her. My biggest seller year after year is the 12 days (hours) of Christmas. This is an awesome gift for that gal in your life, who will receive a basket of 12 individually beautifully wrapped presents. She will have the opportunity to either open one gift per day until Christmas or one gift each hour starting on Christmas morning. Also, all of our gifts include a New Year New You makeover certificate!”
Flowers are a popular gift for any holiday, but isn’t it always sad when they die a week later? Why not consider some wooden flowers? Cris Petersen with It’s All Roses says, “Our flowers make a great holiday gift because we have 34 different colors and can custom create the perfect arrangement to match any home or office. You’ll be amazed how real our wooden flowers look and the best part is, they last forever! Flowers are the perfect gift for anyone on your list!”
If you’ve got a hard to buy for person on your list, you should take a look at their favorite hobbies. Do you have a knitter or scrapbooker on your list? How about a yarn basket or scrapbook items. A golfer? Look no further than your local golf shop or golf course for a variety of great gifts. How about a gun enthusiast? Why not consider a membership at Lincoln Trap and Skeet or a shooting package so they can practice their hobby? This is a great, unique gift that the right person will be able to appreciate for many months to come.
Who on your list wouldn’t love some yummy snacks?? Food makes wonderful stocking stuffers, ‘Secret Santa’ gifts at the office or fit perfectly into gift bags or to pair with gift certificates.
“You really can’t go wrong with any of our cinnamon-roasted nuts or our mouth-watering butter toffee peanuts,” says Mary Miller with Totally Nuts. “For those chocolate lovers on your list, we offer both milk and white chocolate covered varieties. And this year, we have added a chocolate pistachio toffee crunch. All of these come in our standard clear cone packaging, but you can take advantage of our gift packs and custom design the divided tubes to fit your needs. And don’t forget our super popular dried fruit. Kiwi, mango, apple pie rings and strawberries make great stocking stuffers.”
“Do you have gift swaps at work? A favorite co-worker? Loyal employees? You don’t have to go to the fair to get them cinnamon-roasted nuts, I cook them weekly,” continues Mary. “If you’re looking for something a little different for corporate gifts or for that special teacher or relative, we can make your shopping so much easier. Choose from our yummy variety of nuts, fruits and candy. We’ll wrap them and even deliver them in the Lincoln area.”
If someone on your list is more of a ‘diner’ than a ‘snacker’, you should consider either getting them a gift certificate to a local restaurant or take them out for dinner for their gift. It’s always fun to introduce people to new restaurants in town or to one of your favorites they haven’t experienced before. This is an especially nice gift for those special people in your life that you never seem to get enough time with. Whether this is your best friend, spouse, sister or mom, giving them the gift of a meal out is not only about the food, but, more importantly, it’s about the time you’ll get to spend together. Pair this gift with some movie or show tickets or drinks at a lounge afterward and you’ll make the gift even more special!
How many people do you have on your list who never seem to take the time for themselves? They’re constantly doing things for other people and never seem to slow down and treat themselves to something nice. If you’ve got some of these people on your list, spa and salon services are the perfect fit! Now they won’t have any excuse for not pampering themselves as it will already be set up and paid for.
“We feel our spa services are one of the most popular gifts,” says Ashley Pavlish with Body Nouveaux. “No hours upon hours of shopping needed! We can get you all set up and out the door in about five minutes. You’ll be in and out with your ‘gift of relaxation’ in no time. Best of all, no size exchanges are necessary as one size fits all! We offer gift certificates for a specific service or just a dollar amount where the recipient is able to pick and choose what they’d like to have done. Probably our two most popular ‘relaxing’ services are our massages and facials.”
If you’re looking for gifts for your employees, spa services are a perfect fit as well! “We have bosses and/or managers come in and purchase gift certificates for their employees all the time,” comments Ashley. “We’ve also held some Corporate Spa Parties where we block off some time for a group to come in and just have a fun day full of massages and facials or whatever they’d like to have done.”
Kristin Judkins with White Orchid Spa and Salon adds, “Getting spa or salon services for those on your gift list is a great idea, especially for those who rarely treat themselves. You can get them a gift certificate for a facial or other spa service or schedule them to come in and get their hair cut and colored. It would be a special treat and would probably be especially welcome after the hectic holiday season.”
Other Gift Items
A unique gift for those who enjoy decorating their home or entertaining is hand-made glass items. “We have a lot of great gift items for sale here at the store,” says Judy Stanczyk with Artglass Unlimited. “One thing people may not know about us is that we make EVERY items that we sell. We have unique gifts such as cheese trays made from melted bottles and fused glass wine stoppers on up to larger plates and bowls that could be considered functional or displayed as a piece of art. We also make window hangings of all shapes and sizes.” If you’re not sure what exact item a person on your list would want, gift certificates are the perfect choice! “We offer gift certificates that can be used to purchase gift items or used for any classes or workshops we offer,” says Judy.
“We have all kinds of home décor to warm up your home for the holidays from traditional pine furniture, framed pictures, inspirational signs and sayings, various types of candles, men’s sections for unique gifts for men, wine décor and a Nebraska section with various items to choose from and more,” explains Ruth Ann Carpenter with Plum Creek Gifts. “I advise people to shop early for the best choice in items as many are one of a kind and will not be seen in other stores.”
Embellish also carries some great home items. “We have many kitchen-themed baskets that include gadgets, aprons, dish towels, sprinkles and cupcake mixes that combine easily to make a personalized gift for those on your list that are difficult to buy for,” says Ashlie Hadden.
Whether you want to get all of your corporate gifts checked off the list or you want to make a dent in those personal gifts, there’s no better time to start shopping than now! If you get an early start, you won’t have to worry about standing in line, rush deliveries or the stress that comes along with last minute gift shopping.
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