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The rules of giving a good gift

From your friendly industry experts.

Now that you know who to gift for the holidays, let’s give you the tools for how to do it — the proper way.

When we source and design gifts, we think about a lot of things. Who is it going to? What do they value? Will it be useful? Where will the tiny moments of delight happen? One could get lost down the endless road of considerations.

After sending out tens of thousands of gifts a week, on behalf of impressive global brands, we just may have cracked the code to giving a great gift. We’re still learning little things that work (and others that don’t) but overall, the secret lies in 1) understanding what matters to the gift recipient, 2) prioritising form and function over something that’s nice but cheap, 3) and walking the line of a gift that’s both useful and delightfully unexpected.

Shall we go deeper?

A good gift is...

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Aligned with the gift recipient’s values.

The values of the gift sender are sometimes assumed to be the same as those of the gift recipient. TLDR: That’s not always the case.

The term ‘values’ here indicates what someone cares about in relation to the gift. How it came into the world, who created it, what its material make-up is, how it’s packaged and what happens after it’s been used, enjoyed and ready to move onto it’s next life. At &Open, we care about sourcing gifts that aren’t harmful to our planet during (and after) production, gifts that give back to causes that matter, gifts that honour culture through traditional artisan crafts, and so on.

As the gift sender, it’s important to determine what gift holds attributes that the gift recipient actually values. Is it made with recycled materials — and is fully recyclable itself? Does it amplify the work of a minority-owned business? Will part of its proceeds support a charitable cause? Post-pandemic, 25% more consumers plan to pay closer attention to the social and environmental impact that results from their shopping behaviours. This new wave of consciousness should result in an intentional effort to give gift manufacturing, makers and materials the consideration they have always deserved.

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Built for memorable longevity.

We’re not fans of cheap merch. It just doesn’t cut it when it comes to actually making someone feel special. The gift recipient might raise their eyebrows, show off an unconvincing smirk, but it won’t be something they think about for a while or keep around on display. Worst of all, in a few year’s time, it’ll likely end up in a landfill.

Our encouragement: find objects that stand the test of time, things thoughtless merch could never stand against. A good gift either 1) creates an unboxing experience that is not soon forgotten, or 2) is so well-made it becomes a household staple for years to come. Try to find something that does one of the above: either becomes memorable in the mind or IRL. The cost may be higher, it may be harder to get, but it will mean more in the hands of its new owner.

As our CEO smartly states, “It is not about volume. We actively suggest our clients send out less gifts, but better gifts.” Quality beats out quantity every single time. So gift for longevity.

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Useful yet unexpected (in a good way).

When you objectively think about a holiday gift, what do you picture? For most, it’s a physical thing wrapped up in shiny paper and a big bow. But what about other options?

At the end of 2020, nearly 40% of US consumers purchased gift cards from their favourite retailers and restaurants to support them during the darker days of last December. Gift cards, having previously been labeled as ‘lazy’ holiday gifts, suddenly become a primary way of bringing communities together and supporting local establishments.

So this year, consider the unapparent. We do, and it works. Make a donation on the gift recipient’s behalf, let them choose an Airbnb Experience, give them a Peloton membership or (yes) send a digital voucher for coffee, MasterClass, their car service of choice — the opportunities are endless. You just have to be willing to think about what people will use the most. And sometimes that goes beyond the physical.

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There’s of course more to consider than solely the above. But it’s a great place to start when sending a really good holiday gift. Keep values, craft and optionality in mind, and you might just have yourself a heap of happy customers.

There’s still time to send digital and cause gifts for the holidays. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more.