Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Making Personalization... Personal

Getting Personal doesn’t have to be all “serious.” All of us have a friend or loved one that fits in one of these categories, and giving them a personal gift that relates to one of their personality traits is a great way to show how well you really do know them.

Person who burns water: Your single best friend is still single because she can’t cook – at all. She burns pop tarts, coffee and anything else that comes into contact with heat, and she probably knows more about how her microwave works than the manufacturer. Since you know that the smell of burnt food will scare away any potential romance, get her some of our Cucina Fragrant Kitchen Spray. She may scoff a little at first that you are making fun of her, but she’ll get over it.

Person with “stale” smelling house: If you have a friend or family member that is on the road a lot, then more than likely their house will get that stale smell that houses get when closed up on a regular basis. To battle the smell and make the traveler feel back at home in seconds flat, give them one of our Lollia Candles.

The metro girl: The best way to describe her is that she knows all the designers latest lines (and owns most of them), is always put together (even at 7 a.m.), has fun little get togethers with her girlfriends and always knows the best restaurants around. A monogrammed martini set would be the perfect gift for her.

The “craftonista” : She can make a handmade bow like Martha Stewart, can bedazzle anything set before her and can make a cute little notes with two pieces of duct tape and a magic marker (we know, don’t ask) one of our customized embossers is the weapon she needs to make her craft arsenal complete.

The bookworm: She can repeat the titles of all the Janet Evanovich novels in her sleep, can quote Shakespeare on a whim and can tell you at any given moment who is on the National Best Seller list (both fiction and non-fiction). A personalized tote will help her keep up with all of her library books and latest “must reads” so they’ll be on hand when she’s on the go.

Mr. Money Bags: So, the man (or men…) in your life seem to have a hard time holding on to their money. Every time they dig into the pocket to pull some out, you would think they were 10 years old with the amount of trash that is mixed in with the money. If you want to help him achieve a little more mature “look” get him one of our monogrammed money clips. When the money is all in one place, it will be easier for you to find.

Coffee talk: You may or may not remember the Saturday Night Live skits with the “Coffee Talk” (pronounced Cawfee Tawk). If you and your closest girlfriend like to chit-chat over a “cuppa” a one of our personalized travel mugs (for both of you!) is a great way to celebrate all the “cawfee tawks” of the past, present and future.

Water makes me melt!: This prim Dona can not stand to get wet in the rain. It would ruin her salon fresh highlights, put spots on her designer handbag and let’s not even discuss the Manolo’s she was crazy enough to wear on a rainy day in the first place. And though her outstanding fashion sense can be noted from miles away, nothing says “Water makes me melt” like on of our Personalized umbrella.

The Chef: The antithesis of “The Person Who Burns Water,” The Chef is literally “God’s Gift to the domestic Kitchen.” They know all the ingredient substitutions to get them through in a pinch and can literally throw a pinch of this and a tad of that together into a gourmet meal for 10 without breaking a sweat. One of our personalized cutting boards is a great way to let your culinary companion know how much you appreciate their continental cuisine!
1. Pay Cash: If you think that is old-fashioned, then you are sadly mistaken. Once you have made a budget for your gift giving, go to your bank and withdraw that amount in cash, in larger bills. Breaking a $100 bill instead of a $20 will probably make you think twice about the gift you are giving, and once you are out of money, you are done. If you plan on doing a lot of shopping online, try one of the prepaid debit cards that most banks offer and do the same.

2. Know your Interest Rates: If you know that you are going to have put Christmas purchases on your credit card, make sure you use the ones with the best terms and rates. If you can swing it, try to pay your balance in full each month to avoid service charges and accrued interest.

3. Keep it in Check: Make sure you keep a list of what you are spending. It is also important to break it down to what credit and debit cards you are putting the purchases on. This way when you start paying it off, you will know which cards have the highest rates and which ones you should start paying off first.

4. Have a Plan: Many people go way over budget when taking care of their holiday shopping. What’s worse is coming up with a target amount to spend, then going way past that. If you have a tendency to overspend, make a conscious effort to cut your spending by 20% and to pay off the majority of the balance by Valentine’s Day. By accomplishing this goal, you will feel better about yourself and will have an easier time cutting your budget by even more next year.

5. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Set aside money throughout the year for tipping – everything from the paperboy to the trash collectors and random nieces and nephews. By setting the money aside earlier in the year, these gift expenses won’t cut into your December gift-giving budget.

6. Focus: Make a list of the stores you are going to go to and the gifts you are going to buy. Take a moment to look for the gifts online before you make an excursion to the mall. You may find you get a better deal shopping online than in the store. Also, specialty shops like ours offer more unique and personal gifts.

7. Something for Everyone: Giving gifts to every niece, nephew, in-law, etc., can get really expensive, and it’s hard to find the right gift for each individual. This year, why not try getting the families together to draw names out of a hat and get one nice present for the person you pick.

8. Get Creative: You could spend a million dollars on a gift that will mean nothing if not given from the heart. Some of the best gifts are actually free and if there are younger people reading this, offer babysitting services for a member of your family, or give them something that is more personal like a monogrammed piece of jewelry.

9. Keep Next Year in Mind: That’s right. You may not have gotten half or your shopping done yet, but you should keep in mind that you are going to be going through this all over again next year. So, be on the lookout and start saving for the next holiday season or start looking right after the holidays are over for the timeless gifts that will inevitably go on sale which will never go out of style

10. Hold on to Your Pennies: It may sound strange, but get a large jar and start putting all of your spare change in it – call it the Holiday Fund – and don’t cash it in until it is time to start your holiday shopping for next year. If you are diligent, you may be able to save almost $1000 for next season’s gift giving.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Hostess With The "Mostess"

When invited to a dinner party or get together at a friend’s house, you generally know what to expect – good food, good wine and spirits, stimulating conversation and getting up to speed on the latest gossip. Though you can be counted on to always provide your end of the deal (i.e. your charming self), should you also provide a little gift to the hostess to thank her for her hospitality?
In a nutshell, YES! Your hostess (and host) have gone out of their way to provide a great night of entertainment for their guests and though it is not “required” that you bring (or send) a hostess gift, good taste and good manners dictate that you should.
Here’s what we suggest to bring for your favorite hostess at their next get together:

Candles: One of our personalized monogram candles is an excellent choice, just make sure you order it a few weeks in advance to insure it is delivered in time for the party. One of our Lollia candles would also make a great gift.

Soaps: Since there will be many guests traveling in and out of the hostesses bathroom why not giver her something that is both practical and adorable with one of our sets of monogrammed soaps. From White Flowers, to Citrus, to English Garden, there is something for even the most discriminating hostess.

Home Accessory: If you are pretty close with the hostess and want to spring for a really nice gift, try giving her one of our monogrammed martini sets or a set of personalized wine glasses. These will surely come in handy at her next little get together and your name will be at the top of her list of invitees.

Stationery: This is a great “catchall” hostess gift. Take it a step further and get her one of our stamps or embossers with her monogram so she can put her own personalized touch to it.

Other: Gift certificates to her favorite boutique, restaurant, or bookstore, some gourmet baked goodies; and a nice bottle of wine are all good options. Flowers are a little bit tricky – they can be cumbersome to the hostess to try to arrange them and meet guests at the same time, or they may clash with the party’s d├ęcor. If you feel you must send flowers, try to do so a day ahead (or early the day of) or better yet, drop off a gift certificate to the local flower shop a few days before hand with a quick note letting her know you are looking forward to the get together.

If you didn’t get the chance to get out and purchase a hostess gift before the party, never fear, it is perfectly acceptable to send a gift after the party. Also, it’s always nice to send the hostess a short thank you note letting her know how much you enjoyed the get together and appreciated the effort she put forth.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Personalization Do's and Don'ts in The Corporate World

Personalized gifts are very meaningful for both the gift giver and the recipient. However, there are some guidelines we suggest you follow to make sure you don’t get “too” personal – especially in a corporate setting. Check out our list of do’s and don’ts below for stress free gift giving regardless of the season.

Do thoroughly think through gifts for people of the opposite sex to make sure they are not misinterpreted as being in any way intimate.

Do make sure you check for mistakes (i.e. spelling of names) both when placing the order and when they arrive. Nothing says “I appreciate you” like a misspelled name, so make sure you get it right the first time.

Don’t feel obligated to reciprocate a gift. Make sure you acknowledge the gift and thank the giver for being so thoughtful.

Do make sure to pay attention to International etiquette. If your gift is being sent overseas, make sure you familiarize yourself with the recipient’s customs. You would be surprised at how easy it is to give a gift with the best of intentions that accidentally offends the recipient or gives the wrong message. Also, consider ordering their gift locally so the recipient won’t have to pay a tax or duty on the item sent.

Don’t send the same personalized gift. If you have a list of regular clients, try to send something different each year to keep it interesting. Also, don’t forget your client’s assistants!

Don’t forget dietary restrictions! If your gift is intended for a specific person, make sure to be aware of their religious, ethical and medical restrictions in their diets.

Do give equally. If you are giving to all of your employees, the value of their customized gifts should be within a few dollars of each other.

Don’t forget anyone. Make a list to be sure you’ve remembered everyone from the cleaning staff, regular contractors and part-timers.

Do be consistent. If you personalize a gift for one employee, you should do it for all of them.

Do use discretion, especially if you are not giving to everyone. To avoid awkward feelings by other employees, you may want to send the gift directly to the employees home.

Don’t be afraid to try something different for the holidays! If you are at a loss as to what to give your employees, and are tired of throwing the same boring party year after year, why not use the funds allocated to the party to give your employees some extra hours off? Or, you can give your employees the option of donating an afternoon to a good cause in place of a party. It’s a “pay it forward” approach that shows your employees your softer side and helps others in the process. Chance are, your employees would love having a little extra time to spend with their family or the ability to get a few last minute errands done.

The "Just Because" Gift

If you have a friend that is feeling down, or one of your family members didn’t get the big promotion they were hoping for, it’s always nice to try to help pick them up in whatever way you can. Some will go out for drinks, others a good gab on the phone. We suggest giving them a small “Just Because” gift.

Now “Just Because” doesn’t mean that the person in question has to be down, or sad, etc., it can encompass every aspect of a person. Listed below are some gift ideas we think would be great – why, you ask? The answer is simple, “just because” we said so!

Just Because You Make Me Laugh: Everyone has a friend that makes you laugh hysterically, even when the subject matter may be less than pleasant. If you are looking for a little something to let her know how much it means to have a little laughter in your life, get her some of the Lollia Inspire Bubble Bath and let her know that she inspires you to find the funny in life.

Just Because You Are a Great Friend: This great friend is always there to take a last minute phone call to let you complain about your husband, easily forgives you when you forget a play date, and lends you her favorite serving dish even though she knows you dropped yours on the floor. A set of our Personalized Glory Tulip Glasses are the perfect way to let her know that you value her friendship and trust in you to not drop her favorite serving dish as well.

Just Because You Were There In a Pinch: We all have those moments when the car breaks down, or you get stuck at the mechanic when you start to panic about getting to pick up the kids on time. The friend or neighbor that scoots on a moment’s notice to help you out in this bind deserves a little recognition from time to time. One of our Personalized Umbrellas lets them know you appreciate them helping out and would like to help them out in return by keeping them dry during rainy days.

Just Because You Could Use a Pick Me Up: We all get the blues from time to time, and it’s hard to see one of your good friends or family members feeling down. A great way to cheer them up – just because they look better with a smile on their face – is to give them a little pick me up. If the person in need of a little cheer likes to be in the kitchen, try getting them one of our Personalized Cutting Boards so they can chop away their blues on a head of lettuce – just forgo the onions cause we don’t want any tears!

Just Because You are My Husband/Wife: It is a given that you should do nice things for your spouse for no reason at all. Just because your husband leaves his socks on the floor, or can’t seem to find anything to eat in the well-stocked fridge, you’d miss those traits if they were not there anymore. Same goes for the wife that tells her husband she’s only going to spend $100 but ends up spending $200 because everything was on sale. A great little do-dad for your husband is our Personalized Pocket knife (just keep him away from your credit cards if you’re the big spender). For your wife, why not get her our Avacado Shell Necklace with a Monogrammed Pendant. These never go out of style and look great for both casual and dressy affairs.

Just Because I Wanted To: Whether you want to brighten their day, or say "I'm thinking of you," a "Just Because" gift is mainly given because you wanted to so something nice for someone that you care about. If you aren't sure what the person would like, one of our gift certificates will surely brighten their day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Swagger Gifts to Donate 10% of Internet Sales to Toys for Tots

Cary, NC December 1, 2007 – Swagger Gifts will donate 10% of their Internet sales during the month of December to the Toys for Tots Foundation. As a way to help others in need this holiday season, Mandy Kratus Becker, owner, made the decision to donate 10% of their Internet Sales to the Raleigh area Toys for Tots. “I feel so blessed that Swagger just celebrated its Fifth Anniversary. With the launch of our new website I really wanted to find a way to continue to give back to the community. What better group to sponsor during the Holidays than Toys for Tots – especially from the local gift shop?!” says Mandy.
Toys for Tots began in Los Angeles in 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR, and a group of Marine Reservists collected and handed out over 5,000 toys to needy children in the area. The plan was so successful, that the following year, the Marine Corps adopted the cause, turning it into a nationwide campaign. From that point forward, every community in which a Marine Reserve Center was located, a Toys for Tots campaign was started. Since its inception, The US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program has distributed more than 332 million toys to more than 150 million children who are in need.
Does holiday shopping send your stress level through the roof? If spending too much hard earned money, wandering aimlessly through crowded malls, not checking loved ones off of your list fast enough, and worrying that you’re not picking up the perfect gift are part of your annual ritual of holiday shopping then visiting http://www.swaggergifts.com/ will end your holiday shopping woes. With “Cyber Monday” consumers are moving more and more to online shopping. At Swagger Gifts, Mandy and her staff are experts in selecting the perfect gift – every time, for every occasion. Swagger’s online store offers gift giving guides and product availability to ease the purchasing experience. Instead of buying the same old ho-hum gift, try personalizing. By selecting a personalized gift you show the recipient that extra time and attention was taken to select the perfect gift for him/her.
“Swagger Gifts, an upscale boutique with an eclectic flair, specializes in personalized gifts for everyone on your list – including yourself – has been in business for five years and has been voted the “Best Gift Shop” by Cary Magazine readers. Having recently re-launched their web site, everything offered in their store, as well as great gift giving advice can be found online at http://www.swaggergifts.com/ and 10% of their online sales will be donated to the Raleigh Toys for Tots.
For questions, please contact Mandy Kratus Becker at Swagger Gifts, 919-858-5884 or toll free at 877-792-4437.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Personalization ... What to get for the friend that has it all!

We all have “that friend” … You know, the one that has everything, is always stepping out in the latest style and always manages to look great even though she has three kids under five at home. Oh, and did we mention that her house is always clean, dinner is on the table at 6 sharp (gourmet no less), and is paired against domestic guru Martha Stewart in a showdown, Martha would want to return to jail.
What on earth do you get that person for Christmas or other special occasions? How can you let her know how much you value your carefully crafted friendship and are forever grateful for the around the house tips that have gotten you out of many binds?
Here are some nifty little gift ideas to get “that friend” who is always there and ready to lend a helping hand, and the most “together” person you know.
1. Try one of our personalized cutting boards – especially if they are constantly in the kitchen whipping up one amazing concoction after another. Having taken the time to remember how much they enjoy being in the kitchen, this practical gift will ensure many more fantastic meals, desserts and “I just threw this together” dishes, she has become so famous for.
2. Another great gift for the friend that has everything (and then some) is our personalized umbrella. This cute little umbrella will ensure everyone knows she’s coming and will add a little sunshine to her day in the process.
3. We all know that staying in shape isn’t the easiest thing to do – even for “that friend” so why not get her a personalized bath wrap for her to use at the gym, or for use at the beach/pool during the warm summer months. This ever-useful wrap will come in handy for years to come.
4. Some of our personalized glass sets will be a great hit for the girlfriend that is the “best hostess you know.” She is always prepared with great dishes, wonderful cocktails, and stimulating conversation. These glasses can be used for everything from casual get-togethers to more formal dinner parties.
5. Of course, one of our personalized travel coffee mugs is a given when it comes to finding something for the friend that has everything. Ours has a choice of bright colored backgrounds with their monogram to boot. They are very eye-catching and forever useful.

It really is a challenge to find gifts for a friend that pretty much has it all. If you are really at a loss and none of these gifts really fit that friend, or family member, one of our gift certificates will insure that they will find something on their own that they didn’t have already.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Personalization... Who needs it?

1. People with bad memories. This works in two different ways. For instance, our personalized umbrella will help the person with a bad memory find their umbrella (and remember their name in the process). Also, if you have a bad memory, going to a get together where items are personalized with the host or hostesses monogram, you will never forget their name.
2. People who entertain. If you or people you know like to entertain, you know that dishes somehow manage to “go missing” or, if you are one that takes dishes to friends in need, it is easy to forget who has what. If you take the time to personalize these things with a special label, monogram, or stamp, the dish in question will always make it’s way home – even if you’ve forgotten that your dish ran away with the spoon
3. New couples – The novelty of starting life together, new apartment/home, wedding, honeymoon, and everything that goes with it. A personalized gift for the happy couple helps reinforce the bond that has been forged and since it has the permanence of personalization attached to it, they may be less likely to get a divorce or separate when the going gets a little tough.
4. Bosses/coworkers – Tired of items walking away from your desk, or your boss constantly asking you for a pen because theirs happened to walk off somewhere (who knew that pens had legs?) Getting personalized items for the office is a sure-fire way to make sure you and your co-workers are always prepared.
5. College Students – I’m sure you remember the days of living in the dorms, lending out items and not knowing what happened to them. Or, coming home from school, half the items you brought home didn’t belong to you. Personalizing clothes and other items is a great form of insurance that the college student you know will always get their stuff back – possibly even before they graduate!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holiday Open House



Both of our Holiday Open Houses were so much fun! Thank you for everyone who came out to both!
We had a PREVIEW NIGHT on Thursday November 1st that benefitted the Horse and Buddy Foundation where we raised several hundred dollars for the local charity! This was our first year doing a PREVIEW NIGHT, but it won't be the last!
Sunday, November 4th 2007, was our 5th Annual Holiday Open House! It was our best and most exciting one to date! We gave away over $2000 in door prizes and gifts bags for the first 50 customers. We truly appreciate all of our loyal customers who came by and did their Christmas Shopping! This is my favorite event all year - I love the excitement of the season and this party always kicks it off for Swagger!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Webkinz Party - A Huge Success!

I wanted to thank everyone who came out for our Webkinz Party on October 6th! Gloria was so excited to see everyone on her 1st birthday - it was crazy how many people were there! ! Someone even made her a card - thank you to that little girl - Gloria felt so special!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Webkinz Trading Cards are in!

Today I am posting my very first blog entry! How exciting!
And even more exciting is that we finally have our WEBKINZ Trading Cards in! As any of you with kids know, Webkinz are HUGE with the 6 - 12 year old boys and girls and could quite possibly be bigger than Beanie Babies (or Cabbage Patch Dolls for anyone who is in my age group:)). The trading cards are especially cool, because the kids can play with them online or as a game with their friends - AND 1 out of every 36 packs wins a free online Webkinz Animal - that was enough for a couple of our customers to buy a whole box to ensure that they would get the virtual animal! Call or come back to get your Webkinz Trading Cards before they are all gone - we only received a very limited quantity! See you soon! ~ Mandy