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.