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Gift of the Year Judging

Who, where, when and how… Gift of the Year judging

If you’ve entered Gift of the Year 2019 or are thinking of entering, then you may well wonder about the judging process. The competition is administered by the Giftware Association, so is it the GA that makes the final decision about who wins? Does that mean that only GA members have a chance to win?

The answer to both of those questions is a resounding no! We pick an independent panel of retailer and trade press judges. Some of them happen to be members of the GA; most are not. Between them this panel (around 50 for the online stage of judging, around 20 for the final live stage) has absolute discretion about which products win in each category.

First, in the online stage, judges view a broad slice of categories based on their areas of expertise. They each choose their favourite few entries, and when the judging is complete we take the top ten (really between six and fifteen depending on the size of the category) from the total of judges’ votes, and form the shortlist. Shortlisted products are then sent in throughout the end of December, for judging in mid-January.

For the second and final round of judging, a smaller panel of judges – selected to be the most broad and representative of the industry – is invited to come to Birmingham where the GA is based. The shortlisted products that were sent in throughout the latter half of December are laid out by category, and each judge scores their top three products, ranking them their first, second and third choice.

As the judges go about viewing the categories, the dedicated Gift of the Year team inputs the results into our state-of-the-art vote counting software (an Excel spreadsheet). This automatically calculates the top three products by aggregating the points assigned by the judges (some categories are quite large, so the top four products are calculated instead). The judges then break any (very rare) ties, and the top product becomes the winner of the category, with the other two (or three) being highly commended.

The winning products from every category are then revealed to the judges, who between them vote on which is named the Gift of the Year Judges’ Choice. The winner of this accolade is given a free stand at Autumn Fair.

For more information about the judging panel, you can see them as they are recruited at More judges are added throughout the competition, and if you are a retailer, a buying expert or a member of the trade press, you are more than welcome to get in touch about adding your name to the list – the more the merrier! You can enquire at

If you are a retailer and would like a copy of the 2018 Winners Brochure, featuring product information, pricing and contact details for the suppliers, get in touch at

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