How to Surprise Your Employees This Labor Day

As its name suggests, Labor Day recognizes folks who work. It’s nice that there’s a holiday, but I’d feel better if we just called it Labor Year. 

That’s a fight for another day. 

For now, let’s focus on the most important people in your lives after family and friends: your employees. 

Labor Day is right around the corner, and you’ll look really good by showing your employees just how much you appreciate all their hard work. 

Gift Baskets

Did you really think we weren’t going to lead with this? Oh, you know us too well.

Gift baskets keep growing in popularity year over year, and one of the main reasons is that there’s truly something for everyone. The good companies, like ours, customize baskets based on hand-picked (and tasted) inventory researched at trade shows and other industry events. 

Any sort of recognition can work wonders for employee morale, but gift baskets possess that personalized characteristic that makes them so special. 

Company Picnic 

Given the latest on Covid, an indoor gathering isn’t the best idea at this time. Enter the great outdoors.

It’ll still be summer and a company-catered picnic at an attractive venue allows employees to bond in a non-workish environment. To sweeten the event, definitely hold it during the workday and discourage work-related cell phone use. 

Labor Bonus

I know, bonuses are typically reserved for the holiday season, but why not go the unorthodox route? There is a direct link between employee performance and bonuses, and surprising your staff with some extra cash is not only a generous thank you, but the gesture is likely to enhance motivation and employee engagement

Considering this is our second Covid Labor Day, you will no doubt create good will. 

Thank You Notes

Whether a bonus or a gift, be sure to include thank you notes. A small message expressing gratitude makes a big statement to your staff. Go the extra mile, and personalize them, addressing employees by name and identifying unique ways they’ve helped the company. 


We’ve written before about the importance of planning your gift-giving, and Labor Day is no exception. It may not be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, etc., but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a special occasion for the people who help keep the lights on.

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Get Organized: How to Plan, Budget, and Schedule Your Gifts

Winging it is appropriate in some instances like spontaneously deciding where to go for dinner, taking a scenic route rather than the normal path, or starting a new Netflix binge on a series you’ve heard nothing about. 

But, my friends, when it comes to gift-giving, you’ll always be better off by putting some thought into it. Whether the lucky recipients are friends, family, employees, or customers, you should know how to plan, budget, and schedule your gifts.  

You’re on your own with this one. Go figure it out. 

Oh, we kid, we kid. Of course we’re going to provide some guidance below!

Start With a List

It’s fun checking items off a list, and how you create that–note pad, spreadsheet–is up to you. Start by committing people’s names to paper or Excel. These are the must-gift folks, as in, if you forget them, you’ll look bad. 

For each one, decide the occasions during the year to gift them and how much you are willing to spend per gift. Oh, and ensure that it is within your means. Sounds elementary, but if you’re a business owner, and you improvise your spend, that can hurt your budget in other areas of the company. There’s a fine line between being too frugal and too extravagant. 

Set Your Annual Gift Budget

Speaking of budget, just how much should you spend annually? This certainly depends on your personal and/or company financial situation. To give you an idea, in 2020, the average American spent $998 on gifts during the holiday season. So, play with that spreadsheet to make the total work for you. 

Monthly Gift Spending

Stay with me here. Divide your gift budget by 12 to determine the average of your monthly gift spend. I know this is stating the obvious, but 1) it keeps you on track and 2) you’d be surprised how many people ignore this and go over budget. 

If you really want to be disciplined, each time you receive your paycheck, set the monthly sum aside for gifts, and don’t spend it on anything else. 

When it comes to your clients, the best practice is to allocate a gift fund for the year, and while you’re at it, budget for prospects, too, because sending them a gift is a gesture of goodwill and may lead to future business

Choice of Gifts

As we’ve previously written, giving gifts makes you happier, and there are many to choose from, including ( 🚨 SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT 🚨) gift baskets loaded with chocolates, candies, wine, nuts, coffee, tea, and other goodies. These gifts are perfect for a wide range of occasions since everyone loves indulging in these irresistible treats. But knowing your audience is key, and if it’s a gift card that makes them happy, then go for it. 

You don’t have to be a mathematician to set an annual gift-giving budget. Know what you can afford, who you want to surprise, and the rest is gravy.

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5 Health Benefits of Coffee

And we’re back with another edition of The Health Benefits Of [fill-in-the-blank]. 

So far, we’ve served up blog posts on the health benefits of red wine, dark chocolate, nuts, and now, perhaps the biggest showstopper of them all: 5 Health Benefits of Coffee.  

You’re either vibrating with excitement from this announcement, the caffeine, or both. 

The point is that coffee can be good for you, and you can lose any shame about having to rely on it to get through the day. 

Here’s what we’ve brewed for you. 

1. Coffee Can Give You Higher Energy & Intelligence

Who doesn’t want to feel smarter and more alert? 

Now, it’s common knowledge that caffeine is a stimulant, but understanding the science behind feeling more energized is pretty cool. As you sip coffee, your bloodstream snatches up the caffeine and funnels it to your brain, blocking adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that causes drowsiness. The door then opens for other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which give you that pep in your step. 

What happens when you experience increases in memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times, and general mental function? You become more intelligent. According to Healthline, multiple controlled studies bear this out. 

2. Coffee Is Nutrient-Rich

You can get your nutrient fix from a single cup of coffee. It’s like Vitamin Bingo: coffee beans contain vitamins B2, B3, B5, potassium, and manganese. No need to feel bashful about your fifth cup of coffee of the day when you’re packing these in. 

By the way, if your eyes saw “magnesium” while reading “manganese”, you’re not alone. The former supports muscle and nerve function and energy production, while the latter plays an important role in bone formation and reducing inflammation. 

Thanks for the confusion, Periodic Table. 

3. Coffee Lowers Risk Of Diseases

Something that smells and tastes good and protects you from disease is a win-win-win. This information comes from none other than John Hopkins Medicine

Heart Failure – For starters, consuming coffee can ward off heart failure in people with hearts that have trouble pumping enough blood to the body.

Parkinson’s Disease – Nutrient-rich caffeine can lower your chances of developing Parkinson’s and ease the symptoms of those suffering from the disease. 

Colorectal Cancer – According to a Johns Hopkins Medicine study, one in 23 women develop colon cancer, but drinkers of regular or decaf coffee were 26 percent less likely to get colorectal cancer.

Cirrhosis – People who drink four or more cups of coffee a day can lower their risk of developing cirrhosis by up to 80 percent. 

4. Coffee Can Increase Your Lifespan 

Lowered risk of disease typically means you live longer. Healthline cites two comprehensive studies finding that consuming coffee was associated with a 20 percent reduced risk of death in men and a 26 percent decreased risk of death in women over 18 – 24 years. 

5. Chock Full of Antioxidants

Lest you thought our friends, the Antioxidants wouldn’t make an appearance in this blog post, you were mistaken. You can impress folks at your next coffee meeting or cocktail party (hello, Irish coffee!) by informing them that the biggest source of antioxidants in the western diet is…coffee. In fact, many of us get more antioxidants from coffee than fruits and vegetables combined. 

Well, it turns out that you can have your coffee and drink it, too. If you weren’t sipping a cup while reading this, go ahead and fire up your Keurig, prepare your French press, or hit a Starbucks, Dunkin’, or wherever you enjoy your coffee. You’ve earned it. 

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The Positive Impact of Gifts on Employee Engagement

There’s a familiar saying that I just made up: Happy employees, happy business. 

It’s stating the obvious to declare that employees who are recognized for their hard work are more engaged and therefore more productive, which pays off for your company. Back in 2019 B.P. (Before the Pandemic), more than 50% of U.S. workers sought new jobs, leaving their current one in less than a year. Fast forward to today and employee burnout is on the rise at a time when they’re needed most. 

You’d be surprised how a small gesture like a gift can make a big difference. In our last blog post, we discussed why client gifts are good for business, and today, we’re going to examine the impact they have on your employees. 

It Boosts Productivity

Perhaps “Show me the money” needs to be modified to “Show me the gift basket.”

Gifts are preferable over bonuses. What now? Isn’t the adage “Money talks and that other stuff walks”? 

Not so. Companies spend upwards of $77 billion annually on employee incentives, but a study by American Economic Review determined that giving a gift to employees increased productivity more than a cash reward. In fact, a gift of equal value boosted their performance by an average of 25%.

As one of the study’s authors said:

“Surprising employees from time to time with tokens of appreciation can enhance morale.”

It Shows Employees That They Are Valued

Speaking of stating the obvious, high employee morale works wonders for businesses. Happy employees are invaluable to the working environment, productivity, and future success of your business. A gift of appreciation shows your employees how much they’re valued.  

Even if employee morale is high, don’t rest on your laurels. Engaged and productive employees deserve ongoing recognition, and what business owner doesn’t want their company to operate even more efficiently? 

Meaningful Gifts Make a Difference

As we’ve previously written, figuring out the right gift can be a stressful pursuit. It won’t be if you lean into meaningful gifts. What does that mean? It’s going beyond the holiday season and considering other occasions and circumstances like:

Milestones – Gifts for achievements, such as fulfilling a performance goal like meeting or exceeding a sales quota.

Family Events – Why limit gifts to clients whose family member has a birthday, wedding, or anniversary? Show your employees’ families some love, too. 

Team Achievements – There’s no “I” in team but there is in “gift.” Since the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, celebrating team accomplishments puts an emphasis on team culture and camaraderie. Highly functioning teams move your business forward. 

Running a business requires a lot of intestinal fortitude and can be very overwhelming, which is why investing in your employees’ satisfaction is key. With a little planning around gift-giving, you can see a big bump in engagement and positive outcomes for your company. 


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3 Reasons Why Client Gifts Are Good For Business

Signing a new client is a great feeling. You and the client have conducted your due diligence to feel comfortable about the business fit, and then you’re off and running with the engagement. You’re so focused on delivering the best service possible–as you should be–that you forget to go the extra mile to send a gift (shameless plug alert: like an inimitable BasketWorks gift basket) when the occasion calls for it. Now, you’re not likely going to get fired for that “sin” of omission, but it certainly doesn’t hurt and in fact can help to send a holiday, thank you or happy fill-in-the-blank gift. 

Every chance you get to show that you care gives your client another reason to keep working with you. Here are three reasons why client gifts are good for business. 

1. Strengthens Relationships

Why not make a good relationship better?

Surprising your customers with gifts reflects a level of generosity and implies that you care about individual relationships. It keeps you top-of-mind and shows your customers that you are committed to long-standing relationships. Gift-giving is a small gesture with significant implications on your brand perception, the likelihood of repeat business, and more referrals. 

2. Gives You A Reason To Reach Out

As a vendor you don’t want to be out of sight out of mind for your clients. Having a standing check-in meeting is always a best practice, but sending a gift gives you an excuse to reach out without necessarily talking business. Think of it as a way to reconnect with customers with whom you haven’t had frequent contact in a low-pressure, non-sales-y way. 

3. Builds More Trust

Care and trust are the kissing cousins of business in that the more that you show your customers that you care, the more trust they invest in you. Customers feel special when they receive TLC, and the combination of outstanding services and gift-giving provides that. 

Giving your client a gift sends two very important messages: 1) it demonstrates how much you appreciate their business, and 2) it’s a reflection of who you are as a company.

Pro Tips

People love personalized gifts. I’m not saying they have to be super customized, but including a personal note wishing them a happy holiday or recognizing another occasion can go a long way. 

Timing is everything. Err on the side of ordering early to ensure that your customer receives the gift before the birthday, anniversary or Christmas. A late gift is never a good look! 

Now it’s time to create a plan to wow your customers with the perfect gift.

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5 Health Benefits of Nuts

Previously, we’ve written about the health benefits of red wine and dark chocolate. Continuing with this theme, we’re going to talk about nuts. I know, this food isn’t as stirring as wine and chocolate, but were you really expecting that our next blog post would reveal that cotton candy treats gout? 

Nuts are pretty exciting because they come in different varieties, and they happen to taste good, too. Let’s get nuts already and take a look at what makes them healthy. 

Good for Your Heart

Not to get dark, but heart disease is a leading cause of death in America, which is why we must take care of our tickers. 

Enter nuts. 

The Mayo Clinic has examined all the ways that nuts increase heart health. For starters , they contain unsaturated fatty acids, protein, and other nutrients, which hearts like. They also reduce the risk of heart attacks by:

  • Lowering your bad cholesterol
  • Fortifying the lining of your arteries
  • Reducing levels of inflammation
  • Lessing the risk of developing blood clots

Packed with Antioxidants

Forgive us for sounding like a broken record, but we jump at the opportunity to write the word “antioxidants” because it sounds cool, and antioxidants are really really good for you. They’re important because they fight off oxidation (ergo, ANTIoxidants), a bad chemical reaction that creates free radicals that assault your cells. If this sounds like a body chemistry uprising, it sort of is. 

Studies show that walnuts, almonds, pecans, and cashews contain the polyphenol antioxidant, which reduces oxidative damage and bad cholesterol. 

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

First, let’s say something nice about inflammation: it’s the body’s natural defense against injuries, bacteria, and pathogens. But, when it wears out its welcome, it has the potential to harm your organs and make you vulnerable to life-threatening conditions like diabetes and kidney disease. Our friends at Healthline did some research and found that pistachios, Brazil nuts, walnuts, and almonds reduce inflammation in people with these and other serious health conditions. 

Lots of Fiber

Addressing your colon and gut bacteria may not be appropriate table-talk, but ingesting fiber during meals is very important. 

You’ve heard of probiotics. There are also prebiotics, compounds that encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut and gastrointestinal tract. Fiber functions as a prebiotic. Nuts that are high in fiber–almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, macadamias, and Brazil nuts–may improve gut health, decrease calorie absorption (because fiber makes you feel full), and reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity. 

It’s important to note that while indulgent ingredients like salt and sugary coatings might make nuts taste even more fantastic, they may also cancel out the health benefits Nuts are also high in calories, so you need to be mindful of the optimal serving size of a handful or quarter cup, and The American Heart Association recommends eating about four servings of unsalted nuts per week. 

Now go forth, and go nuts, but do so in moderation.

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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

There are two things I’m quite familiar with: gift baskets and the mental health rollercoaster. In fact, these worlds intersect because many of our baskets have items aimed to pamper and reduce stress. 

I’m an open book when it comes to my experience with clinical depression, so mental health awareness and advocacy is near and dear to my heart. Since I like to indulge my readers with statistics, it’s important to note that millions of people are affected by mental illness each year: one in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness, and 17 percent of youth ages 6 – 17 experience a mental health disorder. 

This is serious stuff, and given the last excruciating 14 months, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month, may be the most significant one yet. 

Oh, What a Year

Not that I want to give 2020 any more attention, since I was happy to let the door hit it on the way out, but bear with me. 

According to the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans experienced symptoms of depression from April through June of 2020 at a rate four times that of the same time period in 2019. Symptoms of anxiety saw a threefold increase. The American Psychological Association (APA) surveyed providers and found 74% reported that more patients are presenting with anxiety disorders than before COVID.

It sounds dire, I know, but there’s a silver lining here: people are proactively seeking help. That same APA survey revealed that psychologists are receiving more referrals, treating more patients, and experiencing fewer cancellations. Yes, people are hurting, but they’re also taking action to address their struggles like never before.

Helpful Resources

There are so many resources available to educate you on mental illness and point you in the right direction for treatment. Let’s start here:

If you want to read about my experience with clinical depression (and if you like ape metaphors), check out my blog article that was picked up by HuffPost called Gorilla on Your Back. I also gave a TED Talk-like presentation on the subject at my synagogue that you can view here

Mental illness is a pandemic that predates COVID-19, and the more we normalize the conversation, the better off we’ll all be. If you ever feel like talking about it, give me a call. I’m not a doctor, but I’m a good listener, and sometimes being heard can get you through the day.

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How to Make Mother’s Day Truly Your Day

Gee willikers! Mother’s Day is right around the corner. We have an important message for moms everywhere: you work hard, you sacrifice, so don’t be bashful about making this day all about you. It occurs once a year, and we’ll go out on a limb and say it’s been quite the doozy of a 13-month stretch. 

The point is that you come first on Mother’s Day, and you can hand-craft how you’d like even if (gasp!) you’d prefer some solitude. Don’t worry, your kids, husband, parents, inlaws, and whoever else in your sphere won’t fire you over it. 

Here’s how to make Mother’s Day truly your day. 

Design Your Day

Do you ever fantasize about what the perfect day would look like? Of course you do, but it always seems like an impossibility because of your daily duty and drudgery. Well, Mother’s Day is your opportunity to start with a blank canvass and design the morning, afternoon, and evening as you want. Pro tip: write it all down and go forth. 

Give Yourself Permission to Just Say No

It goes against the grain to not want to be with family on Mother’s Day, but if that’s what you desire then go for it. If getting together with family within pandemic parameters fulfills you, great, but don’t feel guilty saying no to your relatives, rejecting their invitations to brunch, lunch, or dinner. Tradition shmradition. When 32% of mothers say their mental health has gotten worse as a result of COVID, you are entitled to some me time on your day. 

Be the Queen of Your Castle 

“I love you, you’re perfect, now leave,” isn’t exactly how I’d articulate it to your spouse/partner and kids, but you can kindly request that you’d like the house to yourself for a portion of the day. Imagine having a few hours alone to just chill. Make sure, though, that you give your crew some advanced notice that they need to vacate the premises. 

Get a Room

When is the last time you had your own hotel room unrelated to a work trip? Even if it was yesterday, that doesn’t preclude you from booking a Mother’s Day reservation and spending the night. The possibilities are endless, including binge watching Netflix shows, getting lost in a book, or doing both while lounging in a cozy robe and feasting on room service. Staying at a hotel is low risk if you’re vaccinated, and you could always rent an Airbnb or Vrbo property if that makes you more comfortable.

We should note that we’re not trying to sway you one way or the other. Your perfect Mother’s Day may be one spent with family all day, but the main idea is that you have the freedom to experience Mother’s Day on your own terms because you deserve to.

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How to Choose the Right Gift Basket

Recently we’ve written about how people decide what gifts to give. A prevailing theme is anxiety over selecting the perfect kind. First of all, there’s no such thing as the perfect gift, because “perfect” is an unrealistic standard. Take that pressure of yourself and reframe it as picking a gift you believe the recipient will enjoy. 

We’re going to focus on gift baskets, something that we know a thing or two about. While they fall under a specific category, there’s a wide range of gift basket types and recipients, and below we discuss how to choose the right one for your clients  

Set a Budget

Showing your clients some love is important, but before going on a shopping spree, set a budget. It’s a good idea to plan for the year and the client type, since one kind of gift basket does not fit all. A good move is to also budget for prospects because sending them a gift is a gesture of goodwill and may lead to future business.  

Know Your Client 

You can’t go wrong with gourmet gift baskets featuring wine, chocolate truffles, spreads, nuts (maple smoked cashews anyone?) Italian sausages, and more sweets and savories–kind of like our (⚠️SHAMELESS PROMOTION ALERT⚠️) best-in-class, often imitated but never duplicated gift baskets that you can order here. The point is that you want to wow your clients, and a gourmet gift basket achieves that while being an extension of your outstanding customer service. 

However, to make the most impact is to know your client. Let’s say you work with a business in the wellness industry, a health-conscious basket with items like fruit and tea, might be the way to go. 

Think Beyond Food

Variety is the spice of gift basket life. Treats and vittles are great, but so are accoutrements that fit the theme and tie everything together. For example, if your client is a baseball fan (happy belated opening day), specifically a Cubs or White Sox fan, you can surprise them with a basket that has games, koozies and mugs, like these. This way, the basket combines food and drink with gifts that will last much longer after the former are digested, making them even more memorable. 

Can They Even Accept Gifts?

Not to be a party pooper, but some businesses have policies that prohibit receiving corporate gifts. The last thing you need is to invest the time and money into a large order only to learn that it’s been roundly rejected due to company fine print. Come to think of it, we probably should have led with this paragraph. 

There’s enough stress associated with running a business and keeping your customers happy, but with a little planning, you can easily shop for a gift basket that will make them feel even more valued. 

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Health Benefits of Red Wine

Recently, we wrote about the health benefits of dark chocolate, which sent positive shockwaves to our readership and blew your minds. We shined a light on the superfood qualities of the tasty treat, and people shouted from the rooftops, “I can eat chocolate and not feel guilty!” 

Well, we’ve got more good news, so hold onto your hats: red wine can be healthy, too!

Go ahead, grab a bottle of pinot, merlot, malbec, or whatever varietal you prefer, kick back, and read about how it can improve your health.

Caveat

Before diving in, we need to begin with the caveat that drinking too much wine is not healthy.  Wine intake should be governed by many factors, including health history, age, height, and weight. When in doubt, ask your doctor. 

Now let’s get to the good stuff. 

Red Wine is Packed with Antioxidants

Wine derives from grapes, and grapes contain many antioxidants. Free radicals, which are bad because they attack your cells, are warded off by antioxidants (who knew that a scientific process could sound like a political revolution?). The antioxidant cast features resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin and proanthocyanidins. It doesn’t matter that you’ve never heard of these and can’t pronounce them. What’s important is that respectively, they can help prevent heart disease, cancer, and dementia, and enhance the body’s response to injury, and combat inflammation and blood clots. 

Let’s now break down how the crimson drink lowers these risks. 

Heart Disease

Apparently, drinking one to two glasses of red wine per day may lower the risk of heart disease. All credit goes to those awesome antioxidants that do the heart good in the following ways:

  • Protect the lining of blood vessels in your ticker
  • Reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels
  • Raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels


According to Healthline, “People who drink approximately 150 ml (5 oz) of red wine a day seem to be at about a 32% lower risk than non-drinkers.” 

But they are also careful to point out that higher rates of consumption dramatically increase the risk. 

Cancer

The jury is still out on the role resveratrol in red wine plays in mitigating the risk of cancers. More evidence in lab versus human studies bears this out. However, there are studies, including this one by New York’s Stony Brook University that found that imbibers showed lower risks of colon and prostate cancer.

Dementia

More good news: other studies reported that drinking red wine could prevent dementia. What makes this more interesting is the link to heart disease, as the findings note:

“Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Because vascular disease is associated with cognitive impairment and dementia, we hypothesised that alcohol consumption might also affect the risk of dementia.”

Skin in the Game

What about white wine? Red wine is healthier because of its grape skins. During the fermentation process, white grape skins separate, while red grape skills remain intact with all their antioxidants.

At the end of the day, moderation is the name of the game, and if you don’t drink alcohol, health experts recommend not starting at all. The bottom line is that if you play your cards right, you can enjoy your favorite glass of red while reaping the health benefits.

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