A custom gift is a gift that you have either assembled yourself or ordered especially from a manufacturer so that the recipient will feel highly valued because you took the time and effort to customize the gift. A custom made gift is different from an off-the-shelf type of gift in that the latter is often mass-produced from the public. To illustrate, my custom made gift could be a bath towel monogrammed with your own nickname in your favorite colors while an off-the-shelf type of gift is simply a white bath towel I picked up at the nearby department store. A custom made gift has more value than an off-the-shelf gift because a custom made gift is one that was assembled or picked out due to its special value to the sender and recipient. We might say you communicate your caring thoughts about the recipient when you send a custom gift to him or her that you know he or she will appreciate.
Examples of custom gifts could be gift baskets that you yourself assembled, filled with goodies like chocolates, fine wine, and gourmet canned food; pretty plants or fresh flower arrangements that you have ordered from a florist; or corporate giveaways like clocks, watches, writing pen sets, or leather schedule planners embossed with your corporation’s logo. Since custom gifts are basically items that were picked out for a particular occasion (such as because of an illness in the family of the recipient; important family events like the wedding anniversary of the recipient; or corporate anniversaries like the founding day of your company or organization), you should choose custom gifts that seem appropriate for the event.
Take, for instance, leather schedule planners – it is not generally common policy for an organization to send these when a business associate falls sick and is in hospital. Rather, the more common type of custom gifts for convalescence would be a gift basket with flowers, special food that is not offered in hospitals, and maybe balloons (though that would depend on the age of the recipient and his personality.) Some people like to infuse a bit of humor into their custom gifts, like when a marketing tactics speaker used giveaways of mock straightjackets to show his point that marketing can sometimes drive you crazy – and the audience found it funny to have mock straightjackets handed out to them. How many of them still have such wacky custom gifts remains to be seen though.
Practicality comes into play when selecting good custom gifts as well. Corporations do this all the time because they want to be known as organizations you would trust your business to. It is part of the overall corporate image – meaning, a corporation that gives out practical gifts is a responsible organization. You may have received nice watches with the corporation’s logo in the past, or maybe leather-covered data organizers (which are hot stuff with young corporate types on the way up the corporate ladder actually) which all aim to show that the corporation sending these is thinking of the recipient (you) in practical terms.
So what do you do when you receive custom gifts like these? Well, in business it is usually a good idea to send a courteous note thanking the sender. If, however, you feel the custom gifts put you in an unfavorable position, you may always send back the gifts with a polite note saying why you cannot receive the gift. This helps bridge the etiquette gap that may come with the flow of custom gifts between individuals and organizations.