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the giftware association


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.

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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.

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