If you haven’t entered Gift of the Year yet, you still have a few days yet to enter and complete your entries: the competition closes on Friday the 30th of November. be in with a chance to get your products seen by buyers, retailers and key industry experts and influential figures, as well as winning a stand at Autumn Fair 2019 and a whole ramnge of promotion and exposure for your company and products.


The benefits of entering begin on day one; although of course you should be in it to win it, we will provide support for you all the way from submitting your entry to it potentially winning, with publicity on our social media, as well as branding you will be able to use online and in print. You have 20 categories to choose from to enter your products into from Branded Gift through to Gift Food and from Children’s Gift to Design and Craft, there is a category for everyone in the Home and Giftware world.

All of the information you need to enter is on the Gift of the Year website:, but if you are not sure of something, by all means, get in touch with one of the team who will be able to assist


We look forward to seeing what you’ve got in store for the judges.




Harrogate Christmas & Gift Fair is a winter wonderland of delight for garden centres and gift buyers and greetings publishers are stepping forward to take advantage of this bumper event.

STAGED at the optimum time of the year for festive buyers, Harrogate Christmas & Gift Fair comes straight after the celebrations while fashions and trends are still fresh in people’s minds.

Held over four days at Harrogate Convention Centre, this is the perfect platform to launch Christmas and general greetings and gift ranges to around 5,000-plus key buyers looking to fill the shelves in garden centres and independent retailers with wonderful products.

The mid-January timing – perfectly placed between the Christmas season just ended and new launch schedules – means the atmosphere is still full of festive joy and happiness so it’s a fun and relaxed way to kick off your 2019 sales with a bang, and step into a new area or strengthen links.

Following another bumper event in 2018, which saw the return of a significant greetings card contingent for the first time in many years, with Rosanna Rossi, The Art File, Really Wild Cards, Popshots and Great British Card Co among them, this is a not-to-be-missed event for manufacturers and suppliers of festive, all-year-round gift and garden ranges.

Show organiser Simon Anslow said: “Harrogate Christmas & Gift has been growing steadily in recent years with a year-on-year increase in not only exhibitors but also now attracting almost 5,000 serious buyers.

“The addition of Hall Q proved a popular decision and we still have space available for new companies who would like to jump on board and experience this hugely successful show.

“Products have diversified from simply Christmas decorations to a large range of toys, gifts, greetings cards, aromatherapy products, confectionery, garden ornaments and even furniture ranges.

“The show is a favourite with garden centre buyers – so almost anything found in this type of retail setting can now be sourced at the fair.”

For the second year running Greetings Today are helping with sales of stands, and have already added the likes of Berni Parker Designs, Art Nouvocative, Janice Daughters, Natural Partners, Savewell, Tomcat Cards, and Twizler to this year’s exhibitors’ list.

If you publish or produce products such as cards, keyrings, cups, candles, toys, stationery (you get the point!), that fit into a garden centre offer then, for as little as £152 PSM space-only or £185 PSM shell scheme, you could be part of one of the first trade shows of the year.

Greetings Today ad manager Simon Davis said: “From the feedback we had following the 2018 revival of the Harrogate Christmas & Gift Fair greetings category, the 2019 show is the one to attend for meeting new customers and igniting old accounts.

“Our chairman Malcolm Naish asked me last year to re-introduce publishers to this winter wonderland trade event in the beautiful county of Yorkshire – with him having been on the board of directors there longer than I’ve been on this planet, it’s a well and truly established show!

“With this history, and my own retail and trade show experience, it really is a fabulous way to help the industry get their products in front of garden centres and retailers without a second thought.

“So if you want to build business with garden centres, indies, gift shops, museums, etc, please contact me on 01442 289940 or email for more details.”

And this year exhibitors and visitors can extend their festive celebrations with a fabulous night of entertainment courtesy of one of the UK’s favourite comedians – Dara Ó Briain.

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Taking place on the first evening of the fair, Sunday, January 13, 2019, at the Old Swan, Harrogate – this is your chance to beat the queues and see the Mock The Week host live as he’s currently on tour with his bestselling show Voice Of Reason.

It promises to be a great night, with tickets £45 plus VAT per person, including a three-course meal, and they can be bought individually or per table.


Shop Closures 2

 The report by PWC declared that about 14 shops are closing every day around the UK on the high street and are facing their toughest trading climate in five years.

The Giftware Association has heard this from a recent survey of our members and The fate of the high street is one of the major worries for the coming years as well as Brexit and the more general sales. We have seen huge chains such as Debenhams, M&S, and House of Fraser announce store closures which is always worrying and sends a ripple through the retails world about how tough it actually is.

A net 1,123 stores disappeared from Britain’s top 500 high streets in the first six months of the year, according to the accountancy firm PwC. It said fashion and electrical stores had suffered most as customers did more shopping online.

There are a number of contributing factors that have caused this trend in shop closures, from consumers reining in their spending and doing more of their shopping online to retailers struggling to pay their rents, rates and staff costs forcing them to reduce in size or shut p shop altogether. The Budget earlier this month should help with business rates and anew tax for digital services businesses.

Speaking to the BBC Jake Berry, the minister responsible for High Streets said the government was determined to make the high street thrive. “We have created a £675m fund to help high streets adapt, slashed business rates … and are creating a task force guided by Sir John Timpson, one of the UK’s most experienced retailers, to ensure that High Streets are adapting for rapid change and are fit for the future,” he said.

London was the worst hit region with Wales having the lowest number of closures, and stores hit the hardest were fashion and electrical stores. There is a shining light with supermarkets, booksellers, ice cream parlours and coffee shops all seeing slim gains, though the retail environment shows no signs of abating with retailers, and suppliers facing their toughest few years to come.

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Gareth Robertson, practising safe design, always using a concept…

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I am Creative Director at Design Pit, a boutique creative agency based in Lichfield. We’re an award winning creative agency delivering memorable packaging design, business communications and heightened brand credibility. We help clients to talk with clarity and confidence with a carefully considered approach to creative graphic design. We love learning about new industries, new technologies and new ventures, feeding off the passion that people have for what they do and apply our own skills to showcase their talent in the best possible light. We love helping people to build their business through strategic design and communication; sharing in their success as they grow and developing solutions to marketing conundrums along the way. As designers, every day looks different, a new set of challenges, a new type of media, a new message to develop… Good design is good business.


Over my career I’ve had a lot of experience within the packaging design arena. I’ve worked in small and medium sized design agencies on various projects for household names and smaller less well known brands, on everything from point of sale to literature design to packaging.

From University I went into a role as a junior designer at PHd Design in Staffordshire, they did a lot of packaging and labeling work and also branded several cider brands for Aston Manor Brewery in Birmingham. I was fortunate enough to work on brand development projects with this client for Frosty Jacks, Kingstone Press, Crumpton Oaks, Chardolini and Knights cider brands. I created new logos, labels, boxes, shrink wraps and various promo pieces such as curtain siders for 40 foot long wagons, banners and table mats.



Here at PHd, I was also involved with a range of products being brought into the UK by importing company Heley International. They were delivering a range of product portfolios to the “pound trade” in shops such as B&M Bargains and Poundland. I was involved in relaunching the well known washing powder brand Radion into UK stores along with a plethora of other product packs including toothpaste packs, toothbrushes, cans of fizzy drinks, air fresheners, air freshener refill blister packs, toilet roll and kitchen rolls, coffee jars and paper wraps, baby wipes, tissues and various others. Working in this area gave me a clear insight to working with suppliers from abroad in China and Hong Kong and the challenges it can bring when communicating with people who don’t speak the same language as you do!

After seven years at PHd Design, I spent some time abroad traveling and when I returned to the UK I secured a role at Juice Creative in Leicester. This agency did a whole range of work for well-known confectionary and pet food brands. I was working on some household names customer-facing materials here, developing new cut forms and designs point of sale stands, packets for sweets, tins for dog and cat food and a range of store-based campaigns to drive sales and push to key point of sale points within the shops. This helped me to shape ideas and form the foundations of understanding very clearly the fundamentals of shelf presence. This is key knowledge for anyone working with the likes of Mars Bars, Maltesers, Bounty, Snickers and pet foods like Cesar, Sheba, Pedigree Chum and Whiskas.



My short time at Juice was eye-opening and gave me the confidence in my own abilities to “go it alone” and set up my own studio. It was a very small set up to start with – just me at a home office at parent’s house, back in 2012. The idea was to build a name and reputation that was found on service. Giving people a reliable resource for excellent creative design services across the marketing spectrum. The early years were tough, juggling my time and trying to secure the right type of work whilst still being able to pay my bills! I maintained from the very start that I would not simply take any work on offer, but I’d stick to my guns and focus on getting the right type of design brief so I could allow my skills to shine through. It didn’t always work out like that but in the main I was true to myself and my vision of what I wanted my studio and business to be.

Now, nearly 7 years down the line we have a team based in a studio just north of Birmingham in leafy Lichfield – a small city in the heart of the creative county of Staffordshire. We have a growing portfolio of packaging work that includes some real gems and success stories including Awesome Fun Face Paints – America #1 seller in category on Amazon, Kalkaire toothcare range – toothpastes and charcoal teeth whitening products, Seguro CBD Oil – organically grown Spanish oils and balms, Kickin’ Ketchup and Headleys Hot Sauce – Bajan inspired spicy condiments and cooking sauces, United Odd Socks sleeves – novelty odd socks boxes for a GA member based in Hitchin, and more recently some Pirate toy packs – for GA member Ravensden. We’ve also created bottle labels for a local gym, takeaway coffee cups for Holiday Inn and promotional hot flasks for a recruitment agency.



Why we’ve joined the GA?

Quite simply, we want to do more work in the packaging arena. And the GA has a roster of members with products to package! My goal for my business is to become an authority on making giftware packaging look great, engage with customers and drive sales. I plan to work closely with the team at the GA to help members to understand the impact of packaging on a product’s performance and how buying decisions are influenced by what a pack looks like – in-store or online.

Humans are inherently visual beings and we become fascinated with what we see, touch, hold. We buy with our eyes. And that starts with how a product looks on a shelf or on a screen. Designing packaging that is fit for the market it is selling to is an art form that should be considered carefully. We have the skill set to take a brief, talk it through, listen to what information we’re given and then interpret the knowledge we’ve gained into a design layout that not only looks great but can also be produced economically, environmentally friendly wherever possible and delivered to the right quantity, on time, on budget… everytime.

What next?

I hope to meet as many members as possible in the coming weeks and months and I’ll be attending some of the GA events locally in Birmingham and in the wider region to offer advice, support and guidance on packaging designs and associated services like branding, literature, social media content, packaging production and how we can provide a lot of these services from under one roof!

Gareth Robertson

Creative Director – Design Pit Ltd

01543 241 251

TW: @design_pit

IG: @designpituk

FB: /thedesignpit

LK: /in/garethrobertson-designpit/DP logo


With two events left to go, the Giftware Association’s ‘Meet the Buyer’ season has got off to a cracking start with over 60 companies passing through our doors and showcasing their products and  meeting buyers from BOOTS, THE NATIONAL GALLERY, MOONPIG, F.HINDS, THE SHAKESPEARE BIRTHPLACE TRUST and independent Scottish gift shop BONKERS.

Preparations are underway for the final two events of the year with JOHN LEWIS and OCADO and NOTCUTTS and an exciting schedule to be released soon for next years events.

There has been a huge selection of products on show from all across the industry such as  children’s gifts, gift food and contemporary gifts from companies such as Ross and Ross, Shifa Aromas and Shrieking Violet, as well as many new companies that are just emerging into the home and giftware world, which The GA has been very proud to facilitate their first meeting with buyers.

Simone Rose, business development manager for the GA said “There has been a huge amount of interest in our events as we attract buyers from all across the retail spectrum. Boots was a huge draw and we have seen returning buyers from The National Gallery to view our members’ products and ranges. Feedback from those in attendance has been really positive, encouraging us to do more in the future. We want to be more targeted, and present curated specific events with focuses such as jewellery, greetings, stationery and home fragrance. We also dream of taking it around the country on a roadshow.”

Previously all the events have been held in Birmingham at the GA’s head office or The Button Factory. For 2019 The GA is looking to take the Meet the Buyer events to various cities around the UK.

I had two great meetings and a fabulous first-time experience for the meet the buyer events. Can’t wait for the next one! And please do keep me posted on upcoming events. Many thanks again for all your support, it is very much appreciatedSugarshed

For more information on future events how the Meet the Buyer event work then get in touch with one of the team. Alternatively, if you are a buyer and would like to meet new amazing products then get in touch as well and we can set up an event.

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