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Smart gifts for the festive season

Abhilasha Ojha in New Delhi | October 16, 2004

Neeta Raheja has her hands full. Her 10-year-old company Baskets & More is catering to what she calls, "the ever-changing demands of the corporate world in the festive season."

Walk into her studio in New Delhi's Defence Colony area and you'll find baskets and hampers in different colours, shapes and sizes strewn all over the place.

Her employees are deftly making flowers from fabrics and pasting them neatly yet swiftly on cane baskets woven in jute that are in demand from corporate clients.

"A very eco-friendly range is what's in fashion this season," says Raheja. As far as the colours are concerned her corporate clients are picking up, "happy colours like lilacs, pinks, yellows and bright greens."

What exactly are corporates packing into these baskets? "We create hampers according to different price segments. We pack canned food hampers, candles, ayurvedic and herbal beauty products and even expensive wines and exotic cheese."

"There's immense variety and all we do is to present it in a stunning and gorgeous way. Which is why feng shui products are also gaining prominence as corporate gifts."

"The price factor needs to be understood since corporate gifting essentially means gifting products in bulk," says Sharad Goyal, feng shui consultant at Kriti Creations, the most popular shop for feng shui items in Delhi.

"We have budget-friendly items for this season and looking at the increasing demand for corporate gifting we have a special team that is looking after corporate gifts alone," he adds.

This team essentially creates an ensemble of gifts to fit different price segments. "Good luck bamboo plants are still very much in fashion for this season but what's really in vogue are special feng shui kits," he says.

A 'career kit' for instance will contain wealth coins, a laughing Buddha idol, a crystal globe, phoenix, and even a power bracelet. The full kit is priced at Rs 1,500, but the price can be brought down to Rs 750 if you leave out the crystal globe and laughing Buddha.

Even gift wrapping can make a major difference to the price. Expensive fabric like tissue and organza will obviously add to the cost. It's cheaper to go in for simpler yet elegant looking hand-made paper with block printing.

"We try and wrap corporate gifts in red as it denotes the colour of wealth," says Goyal. Even Frazer & Haws has, for festive season 2004, designed special feng shui flower vases in colours that ooze 'positive' energy.

While feng shui gifts are tremendously popular as corporate gifts, Shivani P Powell of Selectives India, a company that specialises in corporate gifting, reiterates, "The gifts should have utility value."

She suggests "servingware in which we pack cakes and cookies and bar-ware which is a never-gone-wrong option." She also adds, "Silver is considered auspicious and hence can never be out of fashion. The trick is to bring out something that's contemporary, chic and that's useful for an individual."

That's why stores like Episode, Frazer & Haws, Ravissant, d'Mart Exclusif and House of Ishatvam are working overtime to ensure excellent, contemporary and functional products in silver.

d'Mart Exclusif has a corporate gift catalogue and prospective customers can fix appointments to view the pieces at a convenient time and place.

The range begins from Rs 325 for a set of six porcelain cups and saucers to more exclusive pieces from Italy and Germany in 92.5 per cent sterling silver and pewter embedded with crystals priced from Rs 11,750 to Rs 13,500.

At d'Mart Exclusif one can find a wide range of gifting options from pens, calculators and watches to impeccably finished leather bags.

There are also porcelain and bone china dinner sets from Japan and Thailand, glassware from Italy, meticulously carved boxes, bowls and plates in pewter from Germany and hand-crafted masks in silver from Italy.

Similarly, at Episode, there are fruit bowls in silver (Rs 2,125), book marks in silver (Rs 345), photoframes (Rs 985), cigar cases (Rs 2,200 and Rs 6,750) and even paper weights (Rs 565 onwards).

At lifestyle store, House of Ishatvam, it's Diwali with a touch of the classic. For senior executives, stone candle stands with gold motifs priced at Rs 1,050 and Rs 1,150 are a possible option.

Ceramic planters also make a good gifting option. Ceramic planters with gold paisley motif (Rs 1,750) or even the more affordable ones like a set of three matching rectangular metal planters in silvery grey (Rs 750) are available at House of Ishatvam.

Companies like Mont Blanc and Art d'inox have also turned their attention to the corporate gift market. Mont Blanc recently organised a special event where it showcased its gift range for festive season 2004.

It's offering everything from leather bags to wallets, belts, watches and pens. Mont Blanc is, of course, fairly pricey and start from around Rs 3,000. At Art d'nox, manufacturers of premium lifestyle products in stainless steel, special corporate gift packages have been introduced for this year.

Stainless steel has been innovatively combined with wood, glass and ceramic and there are candle-stands, bottle openers, bathroom sets complete with soap dishes and serving ware such as dessert bowls, fruit bowls and platters. So what's your pick this festive year?

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