If you want to stand out in your company, be a nice person. Remember birthdays. Open doors. Give genuine compliments. Do unexpected acts of thoughtfulness.
For example, if it's your coworker's birthday or your boss just had a baby, why not say something/do something to show that you care? Even the smallest gesture will do.
The key is to capitalize on the "off-season." Don't wait until Christmas to bring in the lemon bread and to give your deepest compliments. On the contrary, try to celebrate and acknowledge your coworkers/boss in May, July, and September. Unexpected gifts are the most remembered.
If you want to give a gift to an individual (to say "thanks," "congrats," "it's nice working with you," or "happy birthday"), here are my top three tried-and-true suggestions:
Handwritten Notes. Invest in some nice solid-colored or artistic cards. Write a few heartfelt sentences about why you appreciate working with that person or what you admire about him/her.
Chocolate Bars. Any chocolate bar will do, but a nicely packaged or "exotic" bar is even better. A high-quality bar from See's, Trader Joe's, or a specialty chocolate shop is an especially good choice.
$5 Gift Cards. Pick a place where $5 is all that is required - a coffee shop, an ice cream parlor, or a video rental store.
To maximize the "surprise" factor, place the gift in your coworker's mail box or on your boss's desk instead of giving it in-person.
There are occasions when "group gifts" best fit the bill. Perhaps you want to say thank you to the people in the department that you work in or to a team of teachers at your child's school. In those cases, bringing in or dropping by food is the ideal choice:
Bagels. Stop by the local bagel shop (bagel shops are preferable to grocery stores - I have no idea why grocery store bakeries can't perfect the art of bagel-making, but that's just the way it is...) and buy a dozen or two, along with some spreadable cream cheese.
Ice Cream Bars or Popsicles. On a budget? Buy a few boxes of ice cream bars or popsicles from the grocery store and distribute them on a warm spring/summer day. It's like handing a coworker a little bit of happiness on a stick. Any flavor will bring smiles to the recipients' faces. But I personally recommend a box of Dilly Bars from DQ or a box of Drumsticks.
Baked Goods. Any variety will do. Cookies. Muffins. Miniature loaves of breads. They'll be gobbled up instantaneously. You can bake the goods yourself...or you can order from a specialty company like David's Cookies. David's Cookies offers gourmet cookies, tarts, scones, cakes, and other dessert specialities...delivered straight to your recipient's door.
Those are my top recommendations. Now, I want to hear your ideas!
What creative gift ideas do you have for bosses and coworkers? Share your suggestions in the comment section for your chance to WIN...
...a 10" Chocolate Chip Deep Dish Cookie Pie from David's Cookies ($44.95). It's "filled with chocolate chips and topped with huge chunks of chocolate, Hershey's Mini Kisses, and drizzled with chocolate ganache." I had the privilege of sampling this massive cake (it feeds 16 people!) with a group of friends and we all agreed it was decadent and rich. This is the perfect pick for chocolate lovers...and an excellent corporate gift idea for a group/team of people you want to appreciate.
I will select ONE winner from the comments. This is a "merit-based" contest (unlike most of my contests where winners are randomly selected...). I will choose the best/most creative idea.
The deadline is Tuesday, March 10, 2009, at midnight.
*Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.
*UPDATE* The winner is #158 Colleen S. I love that Easter Egg Hunt idea. It's interactive and fun and involves candy/prizes. What a great way to cheer everyone up in an office environment on a "boring" afternoon!