A gift can say so much, or so little

What you give as a gift can make a relationship (or break it). NAOMI SIMSON

Naomi Simson

By Naomi Simson

I saw in Good Weekend that 65% of Australians last Christmas received a gift that they did not want (or like); the value of these gifts was estimated to be worth $985 million.

What a waste… so this week I have been asking business people I know what was the worst gift they ever received. Some interesting answers:

James said: “A previous employer gave as a Christmas gift to all her staff (many 100s) a perspex pen holder filled with purple jelly beans (corporate colour) and a DVD of her Christmas message. Those close to her strongly advised against the gift – she argued that the perspex pen holder with logo would stay on people’s desks and remind them of the message. She went ahead. People used the DVDs as coasters or Frisbees. They were not watched by people because they were so disappointed – and no one ever eats purple jelly beans, they make you feel sick.”

Alan told me: “From a supplier that I spend between $750,000 to $1 million per annum with, last year I received a company-branded local sparkling wine. Very tacky indeed. It takes a brave company to stick its logo on a bottle of plonk and expect clients to drink it.”

When I was at Ansett years ago as a young product manager I was asked to find the staff Christmas gift. I worked with an external supplier and I said “make sure that you can supply 18,000 of them, whatever you propose, and have them delivered”.

The gift was to be presented to Sir Peter Ables executive assistant (who was a matriarch to be feared). She selected a pretty Christmas bauble from the selection of gifts presented. “Agh” said the supplier, “we can’t deliver that one.” Very embarrassed they said “we just picked that one out at DJs. There is only about 20 in their store!”

So back they came with a small dried holly arrangement by one of Melbourne’s leading florists. The matriarch chose that… at $50 delivered per item. This ended up being almost a $1 million exercise. This was the late 1980s, and let me tell you people hated them…. They just said “what a waste”.

Don’t add to the clutter on the planet as we move into another Christmas gifting period. Think about what you give them. And remember a gift is all about them… not you, and not your company logo; it is not a time for promotion and blatant advertising – it is a time to say thanks.


Naomi Simson is the founder and CEO (Chief Experiences Officer) of RedBalloon Days, Naomi is passionate about pleasure! Backed by enthusiasm, energy and drive and recently named one of Australia’s best bosses (Australia’s Marketing Employer of Choice), the Entrepreneurs Organisation (Sydney Chapter) President 2007 – 2008 and mother of two, Naomi also inspires others as a regular speaker, writes a blog and has recently completed her first book .

To read more Naomi Simson blogs, click here .



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