Author: Juli McGuire

New Hire Onboarding Gifts: How to Make Your Company Stand Out


There’s no denying that giving someone a gift—especially an unexpected one—is an effective way to make them feel valued and appreciated. And creating a company culture that delivers those sentiments is a key part of attracting and retaining employees. One way to meet this goal is by offering thoughtful welcome gifts to new employees as part of the onboarding process. As a result, you deliver a strong, lasting message right off the bat: “We’re so glad you’re here and we value you as part of the team.”

But before you go on an onboarding gift-buying spree, take a look at your planned purchases. This is the perfect time to forego typical branded gift items like pens, stationary or glassware in favor of thoughtful, unexpected and personalized gifts that leave a lingering impact on the recipient. Consider these 6 ways to ensure your welcome gifts stand out from the crowd.

6 Tips to Make Your Employee Onboarding Gifts Stand Out

Start the Story

Corporate meetings and events are generally more memorable, engaging and interesting when they’re driven by strategic narratives—in other words, you want to tell attendees a story. The same goes for your new employees. Your company (in fact, every company) has a story. And now that your new employee is here, they’re part of the plot. Think about your company’s story and message and how you can reflect that in an onboarding gift. You’ll not only welcome the new employee, but also make that person feel as if they’re an immediate stakeholder in the company—and, as a result, motivate them to perform and contribute at optimal levels.

Involve Your Company’s Strategic Priorities

What’s important to your company? What do you, as a business, want to accomplish? Answering these questions can help prompt ideas for onboarding gifts that help new employees feel like they can have an immediate impact.

Let’s say, for example, that one of your company’s priorities is to increase community service and philanthropic giving. You could present a new employee with an onboarding gift basket that includes a certificate for a paid day off to participate in a volunteer opportunity. Or maybe you’re trying to increase business in a certain industry. Include a gift or two from that industry with some brief accompanying information about why that vertical matters and how the new employee can play a part in building that success.

Set the Stage for a Great First Day

There’s nothing quite like the night before starting a new job. Emotions can run the gamut from a few butterflies in the stomach to full-fledged anxiety. Why not take the edge off and deliver a pre-first day gift package that’s filled with essentials to help a new employee navigate their first day? Here’s where you could incorporate some more traditional items like a branded coffee mug and a package of coffee or tea with some unexpected additions. Poll your colleagues to see what items or quirks they associate with the company, then find gifts that match that input. Buy a gift certificate for a nearby restaurant or coffee shop where employees like to gather. If there’s a certain book or publication that’s been especially inspiring to the company, include a copy or a subscription. This is also a great opportunity to indulge your creative side and involve existing employees in the new hire onboarding process. If you have a graphic designer on staff, for example, you could create an eye-catching map of the area around the office to highlight places to eat, grab a snack, take a midday break or unwind at the end of the day.

Personalize When Possible

Depending on how many new employees your company hires, it can sometimes be difficult to offer truly personalized welcome gifts—especially when you factor in things like dietary and other preferences. Yet when at all possible, it helps to personalize gifts to make employees feel even more welcome and valued. If your company equips employees with work phones, consider a gift to a site where an employee can create a custom phone case with their own photos or other art. Another idea? Offer a picture frame (an engraved silver frame is a timeless choice, no matter the office décor) so that the employee can add a favorite photo as desk décor. Other meaningful ideas include a handwritten note from the employee’s new boss or the company’s CEO; a monogrammed messenger bag or backpack; or business cards with a carrying case. You could also add an item that’s specific to the new employee’s position. If they’ll be traveling a lot, consider a monogrammed luggage tag or passport holder. You don’t need to present employees with an entirely personalized onboarding gift assortment, but including one or two customized items makes an employee feel like they’re an appreciated and important member of the team.

Ignite the Spark of Your New Brand Ambassadors

Employees are some of your most effective and powerful brand ambassadors, so why not start them early? If your company sells a product or service, can you involve that in the onboarding gift? According to an article on, Dropbox gives new employees free unlimited storage, while Airbnb offers new employees a $2,000 annual travel stipend. Or perhaps your company works with clients whose products or services could be part of an onboarding gift package? Of course, no new employee is complete without company swag like apparel. Consider making a T-shirt or hoodie a part of the gift—the quirkier the design, the better. Or if your company has a branded store, include a gift certificate so the new employee can make their own selection.

Packaging: A Powerful First Impression

Packaging is a critical influence on purchasing, and it can also leave a lasting impression when giving gifts. Take some time to create thoughtful packaging that wows the recipient and makes the moment feel more special. Use your company’s brand colors for inspiration. And that said, don’t feel like you need to spend more money on packaging than the gifts themselves. Something as simple as a delicious treat like a locally made and iced cookie is made more memorable by nestling the item in gift basket filler and a box that coordinate with your company’s colors. If you do opt for a more traditional array of branded swag like a coffee mug, pen, notebook and USB drive, arranging those items in a sleek keepsake box elevates the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Remember that the goal of a successful first day is to make an employee feel welcome, engaged and enthusiastic about what’s ahead. Think about your own experience at your company and what sort of onboarding gifts you can offer that convey those feelings. And as we mentioned earlier, don’t hesitate to do some informal polling among your colleagues to see what suggestions they have.

One other tip? Don’t stop the gift-giving once the onboarding process is over. Occasionally surprising employees with thoughtful, purposeful gifts (and not just during the holiday season) goes a long way in making them feel like an integral part of the team. Sure, a pay raise is nice. But you can’t always put a price on what it means to make an employee feel like a truly valued part of a company’s success. That’s where a strategic gift-giving program can add an important dimension to your company’s culture, giving you a chance to surprise and delight employees just as you would your clients and event attendees. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to explore your company’s gift-giving strategy. As a result, you’ll unwrap the key to increased employee engagement that fuels your company’s long-term success and growth (see what we did there?). And if you need help identifying effective, unforgettable onboarding gifts, we’re happy to join you in a brainstorming session. Reach out to us anytime.

Hot Gift Trends from the Atlanta Gifts Show

Atlanta Gifts Market

To get ahead of the trend in gifts, sometimes it pays to travel. We made our way to Atlanta for the Atlanta International Gifts and Home Furnishing Market, one of the largest wholesale markets for products and gifts in the world. It’s here that buyers and retailers meet, connect, and choose merchandise for the upcoming months. So naturally, it’s where we go to find the highest-quality, unique vendors for our gifting experiences. Check out some of the best ideas from the Atlanta Market below.

1: Location-based gifts


When your attendees travel memorable places, they’ll appreciate a memorable gift that reminds them of their trip of a lifetime. Consider custom-made jewelry, cork stoppers, cufflinks, or boxes made with a map of their destination. And when they’re headed back home, consider the popular, comfortable, and cute “home” tee, with the word “home” overlaid over a graphic of their home state.

2: Gourmet snacks and drinks


Anyone can go to the store and grab some popcorn and chocolate – but these crowd-pleasers take a high-end turn when they’re hand-crafted with the finest ingredients and customized to your attendees’ liking. From unique cocktail mixes to small-batch popcorn in every flavor you can think of, don’t underestimate the power of a well-chosen snack.

3: Personalized fragrances


One of the best ways to make a gift stand out is to personalize it. And one of the most memorable ways to personalize something is to have your attendees do it themselves. Several companies now offer fragrances designed to be mixed – and even include recipe cards so your attendees can remember their favorite scent blend.

4: High-quality essentials


There’s not always a need for the trendiest gadget on the market – sometimes, simple and necessary are best. When choosing bags, notebooks, passport holders and the like, consider high-quality leather goods proven to last. To add some pizazz, find a vendor that can customize these goods for you – or even work the event to give your attendees a full gifting experience.

5: Travel kits


Whether you’re sending an attendee home or preparing for their arrival, a unique travel kit is a fun, personal, cost-effective gift. To spice things up, consider a pocket cocktail kit. While on the plane – just add spirits!

The gift landscape changes and evolves continuously. But attending the latest gift show made it clear that customized, hand-crafted, and unique are the biggest trends going right now. There are lots of ways to approach this to make any receiver feel appreciated but it all starts with focusing on spending a little time thinking about them – and that is a trend that will always remain consistent.

Making Promotional Products Work for You

promotional products

When you work with incentive trips and elaborate gifting campaigns, it’s easy to forget the tried-and-true, perennially popular promotional products. You know what we mean – the branded mug that you have your coffee in every morning, the canvas tote you got at that expo last year, your company quarter-zip sweatshirt. The fact that these items can be found on virtually every desk and in every closet is a testament to the fact that promotional products work. And these aren’t just your grandma’s pens anymore – there are promotional products in every shape, size, and price point. Our internal gifts team is no stranger to these products, so we’ve picked their brains to find out the very best information for selecting the right promotional items for your company.

Know when to spend, know when to save.

There are instances when you should consider higher-priced promotional products to get your message – or your brand – across. Internally, a high-quality Swell water bottle or an external charger shows appreciation for employees, and a commitment to keeping employees happy. You might also consider spending a little more on promotional products when going on sales trips. A nice notebook, pen, and insulated thermos can go far in the sales process, because these are items that people truly use. And if they’re high-quality – they’ll want to show them off. For trade shows and expos, consider keeping it simple with products you know people will use in the moment, like pens, notepads, and even branded USBs.

It pays to be on-trend.

Yes, water bottles and coffee thermoses are useful, but no one wants to have last year’s design on their desk. Keep abreast of the hot products by regularly communicating with your vendors and, if you can, going to trade shows like PPAI that specialize in promotional items. Keep in mind that just because you want to stay on trend doesn’t mean you have to spend the money for a brand name. If you do your research, you’ll find that there are plenty of “generic” products that actually allow more branding and customization and are more cost-effective for your company.

Ask for feedback.

You won’t know if you don’t ask! While you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen, you also don’t want one person’s taste dominating the selection of promotional products. Having a team of go-to curators in the office can be a great way to make sure that many ideas are represented. If you are at a trade show, consider asking a handful of people what products they value most. Do they need pens and notepads? Or is it sunglasses and ball caps? Gathering feedback from attendees, staff, and industry experts will bring you peace of mind and keep your product selections from going stale.

It’s no secret that promotional products work – in a study by promotional product research giant PPAI, they found that 52% of respondents did business with the advertiser after receiving a promotional product. The key lies in knowing what to get and when to use them. And above all else – know that whatever you put out there is representative of your company and your brand.

Building An Impactful Incentive Gifting Campaign

With incentive and vacation season in full swing, it’s important to note that, to many attendees, the gifts are just as important of an experience as the trip itself. Having an incentive gifting campaign that complements your brand and vision for the trip creates a lasting memory for all involved. Keep these tips in mind to make sure your gift experience exceeds expectations.

1: Know when to be on trend, and when to stay classic

What it comes down to is knowing your objectives and knowing the circumstances. A good strategy to keep your gifts fresh and relevant is to mix it up a little. A recent example of this was an incentive program where gifts were a centerpiece of the trip. In addition to the more traditional gifts like cufflinks and jewelry, attendees also received high-tech gadgets like the Amazon Echo (a trendy and useful favorite this year) and their choice of Bose products. Attendees also received pairs of some of this summer’s top shoes in understated, classic styles so they could be worn off the resort as well.

2: Packaging, presentation, post-trip fulfillment

You’ve may have heard the phrase “you eat with your eyes.” Apply that same principle to your gifting strategies. You can have the coolest product, but if the packaging and presentation leave something to be desired, you’ll leave a mediocre impression on the recipient. Since a large amount of the packaging work is often done on-site, it is prudent to do the legwork beforehand and document a detailed plan for the gift presentation. Do you have a room-drop gift with multiple pieces that need to be set up just-so? Do the welcome amenities need extra tissue paper in order to look nice in their tote? Do the gifts require personalized gift tags or amenity cards? Be sure to detail how everything should be set up in a document so that everyone is on the same page. But when the gifts have been given and the team is back on their way home, your job may not be done just yet. If attendees have made gift selections on-site, you’ll need to quickly place and fulfill their orders with your vendors. Don’t consider the project a wrap until each post-trip gift is ordered, packaged, shipped and received. Then, pat yourself on your back for a job well done.

3: Be an expert

There is a time to defer to an executive and a time to push for something different. Establish yourself as an expert and a valued partner in the incentive experience, not just someone who places orders. If you think things may be heading in the wrong direction with gift selections, don’t be afraid to gently say so and present the options you feel will work the best for the trip, theme, and budget.

9 Workplace Gifts for a Healthy New Year

9 Workplace Gifts for a Healthy Workplace

It’s the season of New Year’s Resolutions and finally getting that gym membership. Healthy employees are happier and more productive – find what can you do to encourage them.

Workplace gifts and giveaways are a great way to encourage a healthy lifestyle at your company. We’ve curated the best new ideas for you to start the new year off right, mentally and physically.

1. Trendy, functional waterbottles.

We love the S’well brand for its unique design, functionality, and commitment to the environment.

2. Drawstring bags and gym totes.

Half the battle is gathing your things for the gym – make it that much easier with branded or un-branded drawstring bags and gym totes that are every bit as stylish as they are funcitonal.

3. Pedometers.

All of us with desk jobs have been guilty of sitting all day without even realizing it. A small pedometer can be a great motivator for employees who want to get their steps in while at the office.

4. Fitness trackers.

A gift for those true fitness buffs, or those wanting to keep tabs on their health. Fitness trackers such as the Fitbit or UP by Jawbone track steps, heart rate, sleeping patterns, and more.

5. Company-branded planner.

Getting organized is the first step in maintaining a healthy, mindful lifestyle.

6. Stress balls.

A staple of desktops everywhere, the stress ball is a classic, inexpensive gift that makes itself useful when stressful tasks arise.

7. Yoga mats.

A branded yoga mat is a great way to show that your company cares about healthy lifestyles. Studies have shown that workplace yoga and meditation lowers stress and improves sleep quality.

8. Earbuds.

These days, it’s almost out of the question to hit the treadmill without good music and a set of earbuds. They double as a great way to minimize office distractions for those that like to jam out at their desk.

9. Sports apparel. 

Headbands, hats, and sweat-wicking material are welcome accessories during any workout. Add your logo for a tasteful touch on a gift that’s sure to get some use.