This is what we received this year:
Beautifully wrapped tin of "homemade" cookies - a big hit
2 lb bar on milk chocolate with giver's logo stamped in the chocolate-still sitting there
Handmade Scandinavian chocolates from Minnesota-these go first every year
Comice Pears from Harry & David-gone the first day
Enstrom Almond Toffee-good but unopened as yet.
Live wreath for the front door-Ho Hum
Huge box of cheeses, mustards, salami, crackers, peanut brittle and chocolates in a beautiful country French box - we divided this up to take home. I took the box for a planter in the spring.
Favorites are the pears and the cookies.
Since I only send gifts to out-of-state customers I try to send something distinctly "North Carolina" to make sure they remember who the gift came from. A local business called Southern Season which does a big gift basket business has a subsection of baskets made up solely of locally produced specialties. I always chose one of those. I avoid the Breakfast in Carolina-type baskets since that doesn't seem to suit an office too well. I also try to avoid meat and cheese components because of the refrigeration issue.
One customer told me that a local brand of BBQ sauce that had been included in one basket became so popular (in their Chicago office) that employees had taken to ordering it off the net for their homes. That summer I sent a case of the sauce to their office.
From experience in the past 1.5 wks:
- Fruit bouquet: sad fruits (mostly melons) that sat around all day
- Hope's Cookies or whatever they're called: went within an hour
- Harry & David variety box: the few (apples, looked like red delicious) fruits are gone, and the candies/sweets are still around
- Ghirardelli basket: 1/3 of it is still sitting around and it was the first to come in last week
- Assorted chocolates/cookies/etc basket (Ghirardelli, Godiva, etc): mostly still here
- Enormous tub of popcorn: mostly still here
There are more things around the office, but the one thing that people sought out was the box of cookies. In other words, I'd send cookies or fruit.
One of the most appreciated gifts we used to get at the nursery where I worked (we got LOTS of candy from sales reps) was a big basket of kiwis, citrus and nuts with a few peppermint choc candies thrown in. That way we had handy and healthy snacks during the coldest and often wettest time of the year. One year a rep made little individual bags of bean soup mix--all dried ingredients--to counteract all the candy we were inhaling. It was still fun to fight over our favorites from the See's box, though.
Funny thing...I was just trying to decide if a post on food gifts -and what is appropriate and what isn't - should be on this board or "Not About Food" when I saw your post...and decided to chide in on what NOT to give.
I work in an office where food gifts are commonly recieved this time of year. A few thoughts:
1. See's chocolate is nice but the store is practically next door to us so we get a lot of it. Plus some of us are trying to hold down the sweets intake. If you do insist on giving it, give Nuts and Chews :-)
2. A single bottle of champagne labeled "to the staff" doesn't cut it. Some of our staff doesn't drink, some are too young to drink legally, and all of us shouldn't indulge before driving home. So one person (usually the boss, surprise, surprise...) will take home the bottle.
3. The gift of assorted (excellent) steaks and roasts from our best local butcher was certainly nice, and certainly expensive. But not very well thought out: mine arrived at 9:30 am with no warning, and frozen, and I have no way of keeping it cold until I go home at 5 or 6 (No, there's no room in our tiny office fridge...). It was cold enough that it could stay outside the back door...but I was worried the bums that hang around there would discover a new treat. OTOH, it might not have mattered so much: DH has recently renewed his anti-beef vows and wouldn't eat it anyway. My kids eat beef, and will love the steaks...but I certainly won't get much pleasure out of it.
4. The favorite gifts we got this year: a big batch of delicious home-made cookies. And today someone brought a gift basket full of things we could easily (and relatively healthfully) eat at the office and share with all the staff: fruit, cashews, almonds, individual packets of hot chocolate and tea, granola bars, etc. She had put it together herself and put some thought to it and it was much appreciated by all the staff.
So I would go with something like #4.
At my old office we got alot of food during the holidays as gifts. My all time favorite food gifts were boxes of oranges and other citrus fruit that our Floridian clients sent. The boxes of chocolate, tins of popcorn, and tins of cookies would sit around forever and would barely get nibbled. But people would fight over and stockpile the fruit. Another favorite was those huge chocolate/nut/ caramel covered apples. The most useful was a big bin of mints.