Gifts Today magazine

‘Guest book’ with a difference scoops The Judges’ Choice prize at Spring Fair

More entries than ever before for The Giftware Association competition.

Apart from breaking the record for the highest number of entries, The Giftware Association’s 2016 Gift of the Year competition also won plaudits from judges for the innovative products that were shortlisted.

There were clear winners in every category, while Woking-based Ginger Ray, which took The Judges’ Choice prize for its Heart Drop Guest Book Frame, did so by a convincing margin. The award is sponsored by Spring Fair.

At a special ceremony at the NEC, attended by finalists, judges, GA retail members and sponsors, iconic designer Cath Kidston presented this coveted prize – for the outstanding product in the competition – and the awards to the winners of all 20 categories.

As part of The Judges’ Choice prize, Ginger Ray will also be given a free stand at Autumn Fair by the competition’s headline sponsor, i2i Events Group, organiser of Spring Fair and Autumn Fair.

Sarah Ward, the chief executive of The GA, commented: “Our returning judges have reported that this year’s standard of entries is higher than that of 2015. ‘Innovative’ is the word they have frequently used to describe shortlisted products, which is a terrific tribute to the great designers and forward-thinking suppliers that have entered these products.

“A significant number of them have already been earmarked for purchase by the judges, who represent multiple retailers, garden centres, mail order, online retail and independent shops and department stores. The Gift of the Year competition is highly regarded because it is a proven way of enhancing sales.”

Louise Young, the Divisional Director Retail of i2i Events Group, said: “It is fitting that Spring Fair is co-host of the Gift of the Year Awards. The show is a significant selling opportunity for companies that have been successful in the competition and it will give tens of thousands of buyers from the UK and overseas immediate access to many of the winning and highly commended products which are destined to be next season’s best sellers.”

There was double delight for Treat Gifts, which triumphed in the Commemorative and Collectable Gifts category with its Baby Personalised Oak Photo Keepsake Box, while also winning Premium/Luxury with the Adventurer’s Personalised Sun Dial and Compass.

Carrie Elspeth also won two categories – Fashion Accessories for mycolourbands, and Fashion Jewellery with her Agate Medley Collection.

Wild-Olive took the Body, Bath and Spa prize for The Great British Bathe Off, while Paladone Products was victorious in Branded/Character for Batman Egg Cup & Toast Cutter.

Really Good won the Card and Wrap category for its Showtime Cards, and Cubic Products claimed the Eco-Friendly award for Magpie The Modern Home Bamboo Trays.

The Peel the Sprout Game from Talking Tables took the Festive and Seasonal prize, while the Garden and Outdoor Living category was won by Burgon & Ball with Sophie Conran for Burgon & Ball – Seed Collections.

Arora Design triumphed in Gifts for Men with The Ultimate Gift for Man, and Wraptious claimed the Home Accessories award for its Vegan-Suede Cushions by Katherine Williams.

Wax Lyrical took the Home Fragrance prize with the Fired Earth Candle Tin in Assam and White Cedar, and Hot Novelty saw victory for the Star Wars Millennium Falcon Multi Tool from Ginger Fox.

That company called IF won the Kids' category with its Teeth-Marks, with Thumbs Up claiming the Kitchen and Dining prize for its Microwave Popcorn Maker.

Vineyard Candles’ Prosecco Candle took the Made in UK prize, while The Judges’ Choice award winner, Ginger Ray, also scooped the Occasions category for the Heart Drop Guest Book Frame.

Wrendale Designs was the winner of Stationery with its Letter Writing Set, while Dunk Trading triumphed in Under £10 with the Glo Bottle Lamp.

New judge Jo Gohill, who buys gift products, cards and stationery for Wyevale Garden Centres, said: “It’s really nice for me to find new products, new suppliers and new brands that I haven’t seen at the NEC. I’ve spotted some really good stuff, especially in the Occasions and Collectable Gifts categories, and also in Gifts for Men, which we normally struggle with. It’s been really useful.”

Sara Allbright, the buyer for the home and gift collections/candleshop at John Lewis, thought there were “some nice bits in Kids and Body, Bath & Spa” and “really interesting ideas in Card & Wrap in terms of concepts … people are trying different things”. It was also good to see so much diversity in the Made in UK category.

She commented: “There are a lot of suppliers on the shortlist from whom we already buy, particularly in some of the stronger categories such as gardening and home fragrance. It’s interesting, when you look at a category, differentiating between what you know works and sells well and giving other stuff a chance.

“So I will follow up with potential new suppliers too. We are working on Autumn 16 and sign off in February, so if it’s something we want to do this year it needs to be done quite quickly.”

Mark Jones of e-tailer Occasions Direct, said: “In the categories I buy in there are some interestingly designed products and there is innovation in the industry again. I like the Occasions category and I have seen a couple of products that are new to me and I will definitely be buying. I also think the homeware selection is very strong this year – on-trend.”

According to Martin de la Fuente, Ocado’s non-food trading manager, new products, innovation and “something that the giver considers value for money and the recipient would like to receive” are key considerations when buying.

He added: “In this year’s competition there is more that falls into these categories than we have had previously. After seeing the shortlisted entries up-close and personal there are some products we will almost certainly be listing.”

He noted that “there seemed to be more products for gentlemen in all of the categories, rather than them being female or children oriented.”

Zoe York, of Squashed Tomato, said that Card & Wrap was “much stronger this year and it was nice to see some of the bigger, really successful card companies entering”. She also thought Occasions was a strong category. Product personalisation was making a significant impact in retail and it was “good to see this taken through on items that had previously not been personalised”.

New judge Suzie Abel, of independent department store Jarrold, commented: “It’s so interesting looking at categories that you don’t necessarily look to buy on a daily basis and analysing innovation, presentation, packaging, price and shelf appeal.” She particularly liked a number of pick-up lines, and items in Gifts for Men – “a huge growth category in-store, which includes grooming”.

Achica’s Simon Woolgrove thought there was “a better selection of product in all categories”, while Judith Harris, representing Dobbies Garden Centres, said that Gift of the Year had revealed “some little gems which we will be definitely taking back to the team to search out at Spring Fair”. She added: “I thought that Cards and Occasions were particularly strong.”

Jane Hudson, of gifts’ retailer Qwerkity, agreed. “This year’s Gift of the Year was much stronger, with better quality entries. Generally, there has been more innovation than there has been for a few years.”

Claire Stammers, of department store Manns of Cranleigh, said: “I’ve definitely seen things here that I will be buying – some really nice men’s gifts and I love some of the candles.”

And Natalie Yates, of Gifts from Handpicked, commented: “The quality of products was better than last year and they were more original. There are some great ideas this year.”

The GA is celebrating the success of winners, with product and company photos on and, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Gift of the Year 2016 winning and highly commended products are:

The Judges’ Choice, sponsored by Spring Fair: Winner Heart Drop Guest Book Frame (Ginger Ray)

Body, Bath and Spa: Winner, The Great British Bathe Off (Wild-Olive) highly commended, Message on a Bottle (MAD Beauty); highly commended, Waggledance Large Scented Candles (Best Kept Secrets)

Branded/Character: Winner, Batman Egg Cup & Toast Cutter (Paladone Products); highly commended, Marmite (Gibsons); highly commended, Ladybird Party Games (The Lagoon Group)

Card and Wrap: Winner, Showtime Cards (Really Good); highly commended, Colour Me Bling (The Handcrafted Card Company); highly commended, All You Need is Love and Tea (The Teapot Dude)

Commemorative and Collectable Gifts: Winner, Baby Personalised Oak Photo Keepsake Box (Treat Gifts); highly commended, Skratkz – Scratch Posters (Dunk Trading); highly commended, Down Memory Lane Mugs (Cherry Orchard Publishing)

Eco-Friendly, sponsored by T H March: Winner, Magpie The Modern Home Bamboo Trays (Cubic Products); highly commended, Night Owl Totseat – the washable squashable highchair (Totseat); highly commended, Vintage Apple Eco-Coffee Cup (Rex International)

Fashion Accessories: Winner, mycolourbands (Carrie Elspeth); highly commended, Make-Up Glasses (Goodlookers London); highly commended, BlossomCo Dog Accessories – New Collecdtion (BlossomCo)

Fashion Jewellery: Winner, Agate Medley Collection (Carrie Elspeth); highly commended, Geometric (Martick Jewellery); highly commended, The Birthday Flower Collection (The Silver Studio)

Festive and Seasonal, sponsored by Premier Decorations: Winner, Peel the Sprout Game (Talking Tables); highly commended, Flatyz Flat Candles (Bottleclocks); highly commended, Elf Adventures Boy Elf Interactive Activity Set (Cuddly Kingdom)

Garden and Outdoor Living, sponsored by GES: Winner, Sophie Conran for Burgon & Ball – Seed Collections (Burgon & Ball); highly commended, Poc-kit (Burgon & Ball); highly commended, Patio Pool & Picnic Floatable Candle (Enigma)

Gifts For Men: Winner, The Ultimate Gift For Men (Arora Design); highly commended, Manitizer (MAD Beauty); highly commended, Camera Tin (Elite)

Home Accessories, sponsored by Max Publishing: Winner, Vegan-Suede Cushions by Katherine Williams (Wraptious); highly commended, iBeani iPad, Tablet and eReader Tablet Bean Bag Stand (DeVancer); highly commended, Floating Cork Light (Suck UK)

Home Fragrance, sponsored by The NEC: Winner, Fired Earth Candle Tin in Assam and White Cedar (Wax Lyrical); highly commended, Join Us on a Fragrance Journey (Wild-Olive); highly commended, Peony – 100ml Room Spray ( Ltd T/A Branche d’Olive)

Hot Novelty: Winner, Star Wars Millennium Falcon Multi Tool (Ginger Fox); highly commended, Animal Mugs (Gift Republic); highly commended, Builders Tea Mug (Gift Republic)

Kids, sponsored by Ravensden: Winner, Teeth-Marks (That Company Called IF); highly commended, Fun Monster Shadow Puppet Kit (House of Marbles); highly commended, The Base Camp Reading Lamp (NPW)

Kitchen and Dining, sponsored by Autumn Fair: Winner, Microwave Popcorn Maker (Thumbs Up); highly commended, T&G Gift Crates (T&G Woodware); highly commended, Thinking Cats (ECP Design)

Made in UK, sponsored by Resorts World: Winner, Prosecco Candle (Vineyard Candles); highly commended, Spring Watch Bird and Bat Box Kit Gift Range (Apples to Pears); highly commended, Personalised Creative Colouring Book (Signature Gifts)

Occasions, sponsored by Widdop Bingham: Winner, Heart Drop Guest Book Frame (Ginger Ray); highly commended, Pub Quiz (Talking Tables); highly commended Confetti Balloons (NPW)

Premium/Luxury: Winner, Adventurer’s Personalised Sun Dial and Compass (Treat Gifts); highly commended, Designers Guild Silk Scarf (Quintessential); highly commended, Moleskine Blend Notebook (NPW)

Stationery, sponsored by Henri Davis: Winner, Letter Writing Set (Wrendale Designs); highly commended, Gift Wrap for Books (That Company Called IF); highly commended, Bookmonster (Thinking Gifts)

Under £10: Winner, Glo Bottle Lamp (Dunk Trading); highly commended, Alphabooks Note Books (That Company Called IF); highly commended, Eyetoons Card Game (Ginger Fox)

Social Links