The Giftware Association’s 2016 Gift of the Year competition attracted a record number of entries across 20 categories, including Kitchen and Dining.

Cath Kidston reveals Gift of the Year winners

The Giftware Association’s 2016 Gift of the Year competition attracted a record number of entries across 20 categories, including Kitchen and Dining.

The winners were presented with their awards by designer Cath Kidston, who is new ambassador The Giftware Association (The GA),  at a ceremony at the NEC in Birmingham held at the close of the opening day of Spring Fair (Sunday February 7).

Sarah Ward, 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 frequently used to describe the shortlisted products, which is a terrific tribute to the great designers and forward-thinking suppliers that entered them.

“A significant number of the products 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, divisional director retail of i2i Events Group, added: “It‘s 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.”

For housewares, Paladone Products was victorious in the Branded/Character category for the Batman Egg Cup & Toast Cutter. Cubic Products claimed the Eco-Friendly award for Magpie The Modern Home Bamboo Tray and Thumbs Up took the Kitchen and Dining prize for its Microwave Popcorn Maker.

 

The full list of Gift of the Year 2016 winning and highly commended products is:

 

The Judges’ Choice, sponsored by Spring Fair:

WINNER: Heart Drop Guest Book Frame (Ginger Ray)

 

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)

 

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 Collection (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 (Watsoap.com 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)

 

Kid, 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)

 

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)

 

New judge Jo Gohill, who buys gifting 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, 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”, while “it was also good to see so much diversity in the Made in UK category.“

She added:“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 which 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’ve 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.”

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

Simon Woolgrove of ACHICA (a members-only online store offering brands at discounted prices) 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”.

Jane Hudson, of online giftware retailer Qwerkity, agreed. “This year’s Gift of the Year was much stronger, with better quality entries,“ she said. „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 online giftware retailer Gifts from Handpicked, commented: “The quality of products was better than last year and they were more original. There are some great ideas here.”

 

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