The perfect holiday gifts for the new world of work

Recognizing and expressing appreciation for others is fun and makes us all feel good. As the end of the year approaches, you are probably thinking about gifts for your coworkers, your customers, your boss and your favorite supplier. But in the new, mostly virtual world of work, it can be difficult to get freebies for your looks. And supply chain bottlenecks have created uncertainty over more traditional gifts. With the craziness of the past 20 months, some extra thought needs to be given to giveaways this year. Here are some unusual, interesting and differentiated gifts that are suitable for the time.

The most interesting idea I found in my search for smart gifts is great for the person who has everything – you can give them their own song. It’s creative and totally personalized. Think of it as a more hip, improved, and more durable version of the Singing Telegram. Douglas Widick, the guy behind this innovation, says his goal is to “make the recipient of the gift laugh, smile from ear to ear, or be really touched.” Here’s how it works: You answer fun questions and provide as much information as possible about your recipient to give songwriters material to work with. Then you choose the genre (you can select anything from rock or hip-hop to oldies or pop). And in about five days, your recipient will receive their own song. You can even enhance your giveaway and send them a music video.

Other digital gift options abound. Amazon announced a new feature in October that allows Amazon Prime subscribers to send gifts to others using just an email address or phone number. But Amazon isn’t the only game in town. Other companies have taken up the challenge of sending gifts to recipients:

GiftOGram is an app that allows you to send gift cards redeemable for items chosen by your recipients, from hundreds of retail brands. You create a personalized gift card or you can send a digital gift card directly to their email address. Simple.

If you’re looking for a more personal approach but want your side of the transaction to stay digital, Fountain Gifts has gift sets for a variety of tastes. You choose your box (from food to alcohol to care products) and add a handwritten card. All you have to do is choose a card, type in your messages and hit ‘send’. They wrap your gift, write your message by hand and send it to your recipient.

Masterclass. One of the best gifts you can give is learning. If you haven’t seen their ubiquitous ads, MasterClass is an online education subscription platform where learners can access expertly pre-recorded tutorials and lectures. Their differentiation lies in the fame of their experts, from hot-tempered chef Gordon Ramsay to tennis superstar Serena Williams and Misty Copeland of the American Ballet Theater. When you buy a subscription, you let your freebies choose what they want to learn for themselves.

If you can’t find anything you like about these vendors, Gibtr is a new giveaway platform where you can gift products online via text, email, or messaging. Recipients can decline or accept gifts and provide delivery information to Gibtr. Gibtr only uses these mailing addresses for the purpose of delivering the gift to your recipient, and they never reveal delivery addresses to senders.

What inspires me these days is giving to nonprofits that have a positive impact on people and society. Giving gifts on behalf of people you want to recognize can be an effective way to show them some appreciation while you support an organization you both care about. Here are a few bands doing the right thing for our time:

K9s for Warriors doubles the quality they deliver. They provide trained service dogs to military veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Most dogs come from high mortality rescue shelters. Thus, their services support both veterans and animals.

Free2Luv is an organization that I already support; I give them all my copyright of my latest book. They say, “Now more than ever, in schools, in our communities and online, children are struggling with bullying, intolerance, emotional distress, identity issues, self-loathing and lust. ‘self-harm.’ Through music, art, film, theater, dance, storytelling and social media, Free2Luv raises awareness, starts conversations and heals minds and hearts.

The Environmental Defense Fund supports many causes that fall under the purview of an environmental charity, including everything from climate change, oceans and wildlife to habitat and health. EDF also helps companies to become better stewards of the environment. They partner with organizations, businesses, government agencies and local communities to create incentives for positive environmental activities.

Lula’s Garden is another special way to celebrate the natural world, which offers long-lived plants that bring your shelf to life (perfect for Zoom meeting backgrounds). Plus, every garden you donate comes with a six-month donation of clean water to someone in the developing world. Lula’s sends mini gardens (succulents to be precise) to the people on your list. Each garden arrives in an ecological box. You can personalize the packaging by adding your logo, message or custom design.

This year, giving can take on a whole new meaning, with a corresponding new positive feeling.

William Arruda is a keynote speaker, author, co-founder of CareerBlast.TV and creator of the LinkedIn Profile Type Indicator (LPTI) which measures the liking and credibility of your LinkedIn profile.


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