‘Tis the season… already

Posted on August 24, 2012 | Atlantic Business Magazine | 0 Comments

I know, I know.

How dare I talk about Christmas when summer’s still hanging on? I’m asking myself the same thing, as I sit here thinking more about heading to the pond for a swim than what I’d like from jolly ol’ Saint Nick.

Truth is, though, if you spend just a few minutes this month (or even next) planning your Christmas office and client gift-giving, you’ll not only have time to order amazing, customized, local presents, but you’ll eliminate one big job from your December to-do list. And you’ll thank me then.

You’ll also thank me for making the job so simple.

Consumer culture
Brent Smith, co-owner of the Newfoundland Chocolate Company is undoubtedly biased, but he makes a good point: today, edibles and drinkables are about the most popular, and best received, gifts of the season.

“We all collect so much junk,” Smith says. “We’ve got enough coaster sets. We want something different, personal, and consumable. So we can enjoy it – and it doesn’t stick around for years and gather dust.”

Christmas corporate gifts are becoming a big part of the Newfoundland Chocolate Company business. First embraced by small and medium-sized businesses looking for a local gift idea, bigger agencies – think airlines, offshore companies – are now gifting his luxurious locally handcrafted chocolates.

The chocolate collections range from a wee two-piece box to a monstrous three-pound selection. The most popular is in between: a half-pound box. (“That’s usually within the budget, though there may be a short list of VIPS you really want to impress with something more,” says Smith.) With four weeks’ notice, all boxes can be customized with logos, Christmas wishes, or photos.

Another point in favour of the tasty chocolate gift? “You’re never going to offend someone with a box of chocolates,” Smith assures.

If, however, that’s not to your liking, consider gift baskets of local jams, cheeses, and other tasty specialties. Nova Scotia’s Jost Vineyards makes award-winning port, ice wines and a gorgeous maple dessert wine – all worthy of giving.

Jost offers a custom labeling service, too: a number of their red and white wines, as well as their sparkling wine, can be labeled as you wish. It goes without saying that buying east coast wine is not cheaping out … Jost is one of a number of east coast wineries earning international accolades for its products. If in doubt, Jost recommends the Pinot Grigio (white) or Cab Foch (red). Give the vineyard a couple weeks’ notice, and you’ve got some quality Christmas cheer to share, with your message on the bottle.

Functional over frivolous
Looking for something that will make it past the next meal? Local artwork is a great idea, though it can be a tough call – tastes are so specific – but some useful, beautiful pottery surely would not go astray in any home or office. I asked Cindy Lentz, potter and co-owner of P.E.I.’s Right Off the Batt Pottery, for her input on the matter.

“Why should one give a Right Off the Batt Pottery piece? Good question,” says Lentz. “Just like any other successful small business, we are employing ourselves and others from surrounding local and rural communities.”

Besides, “our pottery is… rich with character and a true reflection of East Coast pride. We live on a glorious Island, we make our pots in a studio surrounded by phenomenal views, and we produce a product that can be as unique as the company ordering it.”

It’s hard to argue with that. Lentz says mugs (which can be customized with a logo stamped on the side), trays or bowls (with more discreet customization on the bottom) are the most popular items and can be made with six to eight weeks’ notice. If you have other ideas, and a solid lead-time, Lentz invites your phone call. With some ideas of what you’re looking for, your timeframe and budget, she can likely offer some suggestions.

“Today I had someone come in from Alberta looking for something truly unique that spoke loud and proud ‘I was made on the East Coast,’” Lentz says. “She saw one of our tic-tac-toe sets with frogs and starfish but doesn’t like frogs so I am going to make her a custom checker set with three-dimensional lighthouses and dory boats … I’m sure she will love it and I’m convinced she’ll not find another set like it.”

Unless, of course, you love the idea and want one too.

So have a think, work on your Christmas gift-giving list … and then get out there and enjoy the rest of the warm weather.

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