IMG_4013.JPGThe finalists have finally been announced. The Gift of the Year live judging day took place at The Button Factory in Birmingham on Thursday 11th January, in the home city of The Giftware Association.

With industry judges ranging from retailers like Mark Jones and Lindsey Adams to group buyer Mike Cook from Choice Marketing.  The judges arrived early to judge the 15 categories and chose their favorites of the day and choose the ultimate judges choice winner too, The products were put through their paces and some tough decisions were made.

With a hard to choose from selection of gifts ranging from Stormtrooper speakers, make your own beer kits and teddy bears. The judges whittled down the entries and selected the finalists for the awards night in February.

Sarah Ward CEO Of The Giftware Association, said of the day ” Today was a great success and we got some great feedback from the judges with the general consensus being that the companies are upping their creativeness year on year which is making the judging day harder and harder, also to see all the products in one room is great to recognise all the hard work that has gone into this year competition”

All the finalists can be viewed here



Are you one of the entrants to make it past the first hurdle for Gift of the Year 2018? It’s been a tough contest, with a high standard of entries, but it’s time to find out which brands and buyers have made it through to the 2018 shortlist?

The winners will be announced in front of 400 of the industry’s best and brightest at The Vox on Sunday 4 February 2018. Have you got your seat at the table?

Join us for an evening of excitement, glamour and laughs, hosted by celebrity impressionist Rory Bremner and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the awards and the winners of 2018 in style.



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Our ‘Gift of The Year’ competition closes this Friday so this is your last call for entries!

We have over 50 judges in this year’s competition, almost twice as many as ever before. That means your products will be going up in front of our largest ever panel of retail buyers, trade press and industry experts, giving them the recognition they deserve

All entrants will receive branding they can use online or in print, with even more exclusive marketing goodies if your products are shortlisted, become finalists or even win. The winners will be announced at a special ceremony hosted by Spring Fair, and led by our celebrity compere Rory Bremner, on Sunday February 4th.*

The timetable for the competition is now as follows:

  • The closing date is this Friday, the 1st December 2017;
  • Shortlisted companies will be notified w/c 11th December 2017;
  • Shortlisted samples will be required by 8th January 2018.

To enter, visit the Enter Now section on the Gift of the Year website.

The Gift of the Year team is here to help, so if you need guidance please contact us on 0121 237 1142 or email




Our two winning members of The Stationery  Shows Launchpad Competition showed off their winning products and designs at The inaugural Manchester Stationery Show. The show, playing host to 40 exhibitors representing some 70 leading stationery brands was set in the Old Trafford area of Manchester, was the first of its kind to focus on just stationery outside of London attracting buyers from Paperchase, Moonpig and WH Smith.

The new show attracted buyers from as far afield as Penny Black Glasgow, Klondyke Garden Centre, Falkirk, Pencil Me In from Elgin and Scottish Trade Stationers from Alloa, to local leading craft retailer Fred Aldous and The Co-operative Group.

Other regionally based visitors included Marple Stationery Supplies, Utility Retail, Austin & Co, Ryman, OPen Office Solutions, Castlegate Stationery, Art & Toys, B&M Retail, Celebrations of Stourbridge, Budget Greeting Cards, Hunkydory Crafts, Poundland, The Crow Emporium, The Little Stationery Shop and Write Here. Which was a great opportunity for our Launchpad winners  Paper Mirchi and Emma Lawrence.

Paper Mirchi

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“And this is only the beginning…” said Rani from Paper Mirchi, looking forward to more opportunities in the future. To find out more about Rani’s beautiful unique handmade designs, visit her website –

Emma Lawrence

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Emma said of the show “Being a Launchpad winner was a fantastic introduction to participating in my first trade show and was great experience.  I met lots of potential buyers, made some positive contacts which could lead to something exciting and received wonderful feedback.  You can’t underestimate the benefits of speaking to other traders and companies who provide amazing insight and a wealth of advice.  I am now looking forward to Spring Fair 2018.”

To find out more about Emma and her fun educational designs, visit her website –

The Manchester Stationery Show will return next with Vanessa Fortnum, the shows Marketing Director stating

“The stationery industry is a creative and fashion-led sector.  We want to tap into this creativity and stage events that inspire and inform, we are already planning how to encourage more suppliers to take advantage of this new industry event to network with customers and new contacts in 2018.

“We will also address the issue of visitor parking for next year. Many visitors were frustrated and delayed on the first day of the show as the show clashed with a Manchester Utd Championship League home game.  We hope our decision to pull the show forward to the beginning of October next year will help with this.”







With Gift of the Year still open, there is plenty of time for you to put your best products in front of our panel of judges. With still six weeks to go until the competition closes, we wanted to talk about the perks of entering, and what you get just for ‘showing up’.

Why enter?

One of the most common questions we hear is, “What do I get for entering, if there are hundreds of products entered alongside mine?” and we thought we would answer that question here.

Aside from the overall winner of the Judges’ Choice, who receives a free stand at Autumn Fair as well as a Gift of the Year trophy, there are the category winners. This year there are 18 categories, including the three new retailer categories. Winning in one of these can be hugely beneficial, as we found when we asked some of last year’s winners. Rod from Transomnia said, “While our winning entry… was already a top seller for us, the award has undoubtedly helped to push sales even higher. It’s… running at almost twice the sales value of the next-best-seller.”

For the products which are highly commended by the judges, there is the prestige of appearing in the Winners Brochure that we produce. This is a high quality publication distributed to thousands of retailers throughout the year, including at major trade shows. As well as that, highly commended products are displayed alongside the winners at Spring Fair and Autumn Fair in a dedicated Gift of the Year space.

If your products are shortlisted, then they will be viewed in person by our entire panel of judges, who make enquiries every year to shortlisted companies who catch their eye. Many of our judges are prominent in the trade press, so the exposure is excellent for the cost of an entry fee. Shortlisted companies are also highlighted in the Winners Brochure.

As well as all of the above, every single product that enters receives our exclusive ‘Nominated’ branding so that you can show off the fact that you’re on the road to being a Gift of the Year winner. Some entrants even print Nominated tent cards to send out to their retailer customers. On top of that, every entry is guaranteed to be seen by our judges during the first stage of judging, which happens online. Last year more than one of the judges asked for a list of every single entrant in a category so that they could make enquiries, so even if your product goes no further in the competition, you can know that it will be seen by the right people.


Who are the judges?

As we have proudly stated previously, we are looking for a panel of around 50 judges from across our industry. So far we have confirmed almost 40, so it looks as though we will be smashing all records this year.

The best thing for the competition, and the entries, and the companies who submit them, is that the judging panel reflects the diversity of our industry. On that basis we have reached out to a broad variety of judges from larger national chains to independent high street retailers; those on the high street and those who only operate online. We have also invited all major publications in the trade press, to make sure that the products entered have as much of a chance of exposure as possible.

“The competition is meant to show the current trends in the gift industry,” says Luke Palmer, the competition’s project manager. “The resulting brochure is a directory that tells retailers what should be flying off their shelves, so it’s important to find judges who are aware of what’s fashionable – who better than the retailers whose businesses depend on them knowing?”

This year we are welcome judges from, among others: the National Trust, Not on the High Street, Fortnum and Masons, and Choice Marketing. More are being added each week, and if you are interested in joining our judging panel, please contact and tell us about yourself. “For the judges, it’s a fantastic chance to see some cutting edge products, sometimes before they’ve come onto the market,” adds Luke.




Bakedin StoryIt has just been announced that Joseph Munns of South East based business Bakedin has been shortlisted for the 2017 NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards in the Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Joseph beat off some tough competition to make the regional shortlist, with over 1000 entrepreneurs entering the awards nationally across a wide range of categories.

Now in its fifth year, the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards has celebrated some amazing entrepreneurs, many of whom are now household names. Past winners include David Buttress of Just Eat, Julie Deane of The Cambridge Satchel Company, James Watt of BrewDog and Alexander Solomou of TheLADBible Group.

Joe Munns said, “After gaining 15 years’ experience in software engineering and managerial positions at IBM, I spotted a gap in the market and created Bakedin. We manufacture and sell a range of baking products through well-known high street retailers and online.  We also invent a new recipe approved by top pastry chef Michel Roux OBE each month for our subscription service.  It was named in the Independent’s top 15 food subscriptions alongside brands such as Graze, HelloFresh and Abel and Cole.

Creator of the Awards, Francesca James, said: “We have been inundated with some incredible entries this year, and all shortlisted applicants should be extremely proud of themselves! This year has seen a record number of entrants and we’ve been absolutely blown away by the strength and diversity of applications.”

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“We cannot wait to celebrate entrepreneurship across Great Britain with them, and put a spotlight on the incredible talent within the British entrepreneur ecosystem.”

Gordon Merrylees, Head of Entrepreneurship at NatWest said: “I want to thank all of the entrepreneurs who entered this year and congratulate those who have been shortlisted, I look forward to seeing them at the regional finals.”

“It is clear that entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and NatWest is thrilled to be able to support these awards to celebrate success with the businesses that are the lifeblood of the UK Economy as they start, scale and succeed.”

The NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards will celebrate entrepreneurship across a number of categories at 5 gala finals within the UK, including; Cardiff, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester & London. You can find more information about the awards and the ceremonies here:


Bakedin are an energetic team of 20 that develop and manufacture baking kits and mixes in their SALSA approved factory in Basingstoke. The baking kits contain all the ingredients in the right quantities so you still have the baking from scratch experience but with a little less fuss and no food waste.  All our recipes are approved exclusively by Michel Roux OBE, one of the world’s finest pastry chefs.  We use only the best ingredients in our kits, including award winning local flour, Belgian chocolate and ground Madagascan vanilla.  We have a diverse product range including premium baking kits, convenient mug baking mixes, a subscription baking club and even a newly launched “boozy baking” range.
Press Contacts: For Bakedin, contact Marketing Manager, Jana Saunders – 07763743783 or

The NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards:

The NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards acknowledges the hard work and inspiring

stories of British entrepreneurs and businesses in Great Britain.

Press Contacts: For GBEA, contact Front Door Communications on 029 20 020 360 or 07740 459171, or by emailing or




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We are proud to announce not one, but two Giftware Association members,  ‘Dr Emma Lawrence‘ and ‘Paper Mirchi’ who have both found success with the Stationery Show’s new ‘ Launchpad’ competition. Taking two of the six winning positions in the competition celebrating suppliers looking to break into the booming design-led stationery market with new and innovative designs.

Shropshire based illustrator and designer, Emma Lawrence has developed, the competition winning ‘The Little Nature Explorers’ range, which features designs from the series of books which educate children about our fascinating and beautiful natural world.

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Emma said “I am thrilled to have won a stand at the Manchester Stationery Show 2017. The whole concept of the Little Nature Explorers books, which the range is based on, is to encourage children to get outside, explore and develop an early interest in nature. So I am so happy that it has been recognised by the judges.  Being a new company, it is a fantastic opportunity to showcase my new children’s stationery range and to receive support and advice to progress further”.

The competition has been judged by leading names from the stationery sector: judges Paul Walker and Fred Aldous, joint MDs and stationery buyers for Fred Aldous; Marple Stationery Supplies owner Sarah Laker; Silk Hat Greetings owner Nigel Anderson, and Helen Riley-Ditchfield, designer for Widdop And Co had the difficult task of finalising six entries who will receive a  free stand space at the Stationery Show’s inaugural Manchester show and also benefit from extensive marketing and PR support to help out the new businesses. As well as getting their products in front of a team of influential judges, there will be a special display area which will showcase the winner’s products and designs which will be seen by leading retailers and independent suppliers.

The other winner is Paper Mirchi, for her range of beautifully handcrafted giftwrap which is a new product in the UK market.  A qualified textile designer, company owner Rani has developed this stunning giftwrap using traditional techniques like hand marbling and age tested textile processes like tie and dye, batik and block printing, that caught the judge’s eye.

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Rani said of her win, “Our range of giftwrap is extremely unique as each sheet has been individually handcrafted by a skilled artisan using these complex techniques on our recycled handmade cotton paper. Their superior quality, handmade nature, and recycled character make them a stationery lover’s dream. I am very excited to have won this competition and for the recognition of my hard work.  A simple quote that inspires me is ‘Dream big, work hard, and make it happen’…and it has in the instance of this competition.”

Ocean media owners of the Stationery show said “This is such an exciting and dynamic time for the stationery sector and I am pleased that we are able to support up and coming designers and companies in this way,” says Tim Willoughby exhibition director, and COO of Ocean Media Group.

The winners of the competition will receive a free stand at the Manchester stationery show on the 31st October to the 1st November, where they will showcase their competition winning entries at this new trade show.

About Emma Lawrence

Emma Lawrence is new to the giftware and stationery world having recently left a successful career in the NHS where she was a Clinical Neuropsychologist for over 20 years.  She has always been creative and is now able to pursue her dream of drawing and illustrating her range of greeting cards, giftware and stationery.  Inspired by the natural world her drawings have a fresh and appealing style which is instantly recognisable.

About Rani Moochhala / Paper Mirchi

Rani Moochhala is a qualified textile designer who has always been intrigued by ancient textile processes like block printing and tie and dye where design and colours come together to create stunning patterns. She grew up in Mumbai and worked in the textile industry in the early part of her career. Since moving to the UK nearly 10 years ago, she’s diversified into garments, costume jewellery and being a stay at home mum; but her love for designing never ceased. Her passion for wrapping and background in textiles gave birth to Paper Mirchi. Her aim is to produce high quality giftwrap that is unusual and beautiful, yet affordable.