Meetings Canada


Season's Eatings

From themed baskets to unique foods and wine, there’s plenty of culinary choice for the discerning gift-giver.

By Don Douloff

As another year wraps up, thoughts turn to gifting ideas. Whether it’s a corporate gift for hard-working employees, a client or supplier thank-you, or a small something bestowed on event or meeting attendees, food is the perfect choice, since it has universal appeal. Food works.

In the time-honoured tradition, food-themed gift baskets are always well-received, always a good bet. Who doesn’t relish receiving a tastefully chosen, artfully arranged and beautifully wrapped basket chock-full of gourmet treats?

The key is to make the food-themed basket truly special, by gearing it specifically to the recipient.

“We look at sending gift baskets as a very personal expression of the client we are sending to,” says Cynthia Richards, president of Event Spectrum. “The outside packaging, of course, has to be attractive, but it is what’s inside that counts. Content rules.”

Richards says that her company “always like to know our client’s personal preferences.” For instance, do they enjoy wine? Do they like to cook and entertain?

“Once we know their individual likes, we create baskets that are meaningful and enjoyable to each person.”

“In regards to gift baskets, I think they are a great ‘thank you’ gift, especially if you worked with a team of people at a supplier (like the business service team or the AV team),” says Les Selby, CMP, CMM, independent meeting planner.

If budgets are tight, and gift baskets aren’t in the cards, or if baskets aren’t appropriate for your intended recipient, individual foods are the way to go.

The good news is, there’s a virtually infinite variety of gourmet goodies out there. As with gift baskets, customization is the key.

“I recommend consumable items that are targeted/personalized for the recipient,” says Diana Graling, CMM, CMP, CSEP, manager, global accounts, at HelmsBriscoe.

In addition to personalizing the food, it pays to get creative.

Natalie Ciarallo, program manager at Pareto, recalls the time the “Starwood Toronto sales team showed up to our office with a cupcake truck.” As she notes, “we all went to our main entrance, where they greeted us and spent a few minutes chatting, while enjoying delicious cupcakes.”

As you consider your gift-giving choices, keep one other important thing in mind: Gifts aren’t just for the holiday season anymore.

“When something is sent as a reminder of how much someone appreciates your business throughout the year, rather than just the holidays or when a contract is signed, it has far more significance,” says Ciarallo. “It helps keep their company top-of-mind and sends a message that ‘although we currently are not working together, please keep us in mind for future opportunities, because we would love the opportunity to work with you.’”

Don Douloff is Managing Editor of Meetings + Incentive Travel.

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