Planners Share Their Favorite Finds at the New York International Gift Fair

By Lisa Cericola & Mark Mavrigian February 8, 2008, 3:23 PM EST

Jonathan Adler's new ceramic faux-croc Saville valet tray ($110) and stash jar ($48) caught Rubel's eye.

Photo: Jessica Torossian for BizBash

Earlier this week, we took three planners to this season's New York International Gift Fair, which wrapped up at the Javits Center on Wednesday, to search for corporate gifts suitable for their very different needs. They each picked three finds and shared their take on how they would present them to recipients.

Jennifer Dunn is the director of corporate sponsorship and special events for VH1 Save the Music Foundation, where she oversees fund-raising initiatives and produces events like after-parties for the VH1 Rock Honors and VH1 Hip Hop benefit concerts. “I find the need to send a corporate gift in order to recognize the extraordinary efforts of a partner or donor, to promote the foundation’s current efforts, or to thank an employee for their outstanding effort,” Dunn says.

What She Found
Cargo brand classic organizers from Resource International ($8 for porfolios, $10 for magazine files). “These magazine organizers and portfolios are great for a corporate sponsor that supported a full year of our events. I'd build a collection of binders filled with pictures, press pieces, and event collateral that might include the invites, evites, advertisements, credentials, and event signage to create a huge wrap-up that a sponsor can refer to for years to come. And event people love a well-put-together binder!”

Desk sets and notes collection from Schleeh Design (Doodad design shown, $112). “I would select the desk set for a boss or board member and I’d write a personal note on the top sheet to convey our thanks. Because there are a couple of different sizes, styles, and price points, it’s also a nice gift to give to the boss’s assistant or support staff, something to liven up their desk and let them know that they worked hard on the project, too.” 

Scented products from Mor Cosmetics (candle, $29; body butter, $22; and soap, $9). “I do candles a lot—they are such a nice way to thank those who helped with an event. And they come in a variety of prices, too. These pieces smell amazing and look so lovely; it’s a nice way to pamper my event staff—maybe mix a candle with a body butter, along with a soap.”

Michelle Rubel is the special events manager for Domino's editorial events, and is also in charge of finding holiday and other occasional gifts for the shelter magazine’s style-savvy staffers. Rubel says she usually chooses office or travel products—items that are useful and practical that staffers wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves. “And there’s not much Domino editors haven’t seen,” she adds.

What She Found
Loungewear from Marimekko (robe, $149; slippers, $25). “Even if you have 10 robes at home, it’s fun to get a fresh one with matching slippers. It’s the perfect gift you might not get for yourself—at least not in these beachy, happy colors. Domino is all about enjoying being at home, and that’s what this gift says.”

Desk accessories from Jonathan Adler (valet tray, $110; stash jar, $48). “I love the look of these pieces. I would definitely give the set as a gift—possibly with some Domino-branded pencils in the canister.”

Tote and placemats from Transylvanian Images (available mid-spring, request retailers and pricing). “This would be a great beach bag or tote for around the city. It would be cute to roll up a set of the coordinating placemats with twine and put them in the bag—they are neutral enough to work in anyone’s home. I would love to get this as a gift. And it’s great that it’s made from sustainable materials.”

Patricia A.W. Daniels is the director of marketing and business development for law firm Bingham McCutchen LLP. She gives gifts at client events, seminars, and annual off-site conferences; the firm also gives gifts for staff appreciation day and other milestones. “I look for witty, amusing gifts that have some utility. And brandable items are always a plus,” she says.

What She Found
Organizer from GearGripper ($8.95). “This would be great for clients or staff. It’s useful and a lot of fun, and it can be branded. It’s actually great for an off-site at a hotel, too, because it helps you keep track of all of your things in one place.”

Calculator from Lexon ($9). “Anyone can use a pocket calculator, and this one passes the suitcase test—meaning, whether meeting attendees will take it home in their suitcases or put it in the trash—because it’s very lightweight.”

First aid/convenience kit from Urban Aid ($9.50). “This could be handy for one of the annual off-site industry meetings we sponsor, where there is usually some sort of outdoor activity like golf or horseback riding. And it’s an acceptable price point, as many of our clients have policies on gift limits.”

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