Gifts Galore!

By Hannah Wallace November 30, 2006

Your clients mean the world to you. So as the holidays approach, think outside-and inside-the box for great gifts to send holiday spirits soaring. You don't have to spend a bundle, but that's certainly your call. As mothers everywhere say, "It's the thought that counts.''

Gifts can run the gamut from a special brand of coffee to Bucs tickets (let's hope they win!) to a sunset sailboat cruise on Sarasota Bay.

Are you dreaming of a White Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah or a Convivial Kwanzaa? Epicurean Life's Jay Riley is dreaming of a big package that always arrives mid-December from a client. It contains boxes of retro candies (think Necco wafers, Mary Janes and Boston Baked Beans) from grocer Hometown Favorites that "really bring back the memories,'' says Riley, the public relations director for Morton's Gourmet Market, Annabelle's Home and Kitchen and Fred's Restaurant. Riley is a licorice pipe man himself, but definitely likes Moo Cows and Pop Rocks, as well as Bit O' Honey gems and a Bottlecap or two. And you don't have to spend a lot: For $29.95, pick your decade ('50s, '60s, '70s, etc.) and have a blast reliving your "sweet'' childhood memories. Hometown Favorites,

Holiday time means big business for Morton's and Annabelle's as they create hundreds of personalized gift baskets that businesspeople send their clients, Riley says. They range from a popular filet mignon basket for two-complete with fresh asparagus, the makings for a Caesar salad, a marvelous merlot, red bliss potatoes and Portobello mushrooms ($105)-to the "Perfect Host" basket for 10 people, which might feature 10 Reidel Montrachet glasses, two bottles of fabulous Cakebread chardonnay, a bevy of pates, crackers and snacks (try the Sahale brand sing buri mixture of peanuts, cashews, dried pineapple, lemongrass and Chinese chili) and Scharffen Berger dark chocolate (about $500 on up, depending on what you choose).

They might use woven baskets, or a stainless steel strainer for an Italian-themed gift, complete with wine, pasta and sauce, Romano cheese and a grater, or start with a teak cutting board for a wine and cheese duo. Tuck in monogrammed linen napkins, tickets to a touring Broadway show at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall or a day spa certificate to the Met on St. Armands Circle to unwind from all the holiday hoopla and it doesn't get much better. (Memo to the guys on this one: Don't scoff at the day spa scenario; you might just get hooked after a soothing, relaxing pedicure.) Morton's Gourmet Market has two local locations: Southside Village, (941) 955-9856, and Main Street at Lakewood Ranch, (941) 782-0916.

Drayton Saunders, vice president of Michael Saunders & Company, says classic blue boxes from Tiffany are always appreciated. Some realtors have given crystal ice buckets ($125), sterling silver picture frames ($200 to $400) and crystal vases ($90 to $525) to their clients, he says. Tiffany & Co., (813) 351-8800,

It's also fun to make the gift personal, Saunders says, so if a client loves to fish, then hire a fishing guide to take him or her out on the water. CB's Saltwater Outfitters offers several different packages, including a six-hour trip for two to three people on an 18- to 20-foot flats boat ($395, including all tackle and licenses). Or enjoy a sailboat cruise at sunset for only $45 per person on Sarasota Bay. Captain Kirk with, yes, Enterprise Charters docks his 42-foot Morgan sailboat at Marina Jack. CB's Saltwater Outfitters, (941) 349-4400,; Enterprise Charters, (941) 951-1883,

Real estate figures prominently in Saunders' life, obviously, so he also suggests commissioning a portrait of the client's home. Nationally recognized Sarasota artist Pamela Barron charges between $1,500 and $2,500 for a 32- by 40-inch oil painting that would be perfect over the mantle or in another prominent place in the house. Pamela Barron, (941) 966-5901.

Is the client an orchid lover? A membership to Selby Botanical Gardens would be perfect, Saunders says, and it's supporting a community institution. An annual individual membership is $55; a family membership is $75. Or order an orchid from a Hilo, Hawaii; plants start at only $39.95. That's what Keep Morse, who owns A-to-Z Rental in Bradenton, did for some of his customers. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, (941) 366-5731, Orchids of Hawaii, (800) 323-1449,

At the Wine Warehouse in Sarasota and Palmetto, you'll find an incredible selection and a helpful staff who can steer you toward the type and price range you're aiming for, says Drew Smith, the manager of the Sarasota shop. Whether it's $10 per bottle, something in the $20 to $50 range or a splurge on a wine a tad over $300 bottle (maybe a 2000 Gaja Sori San Lorenzo), you'll have plenty to choose from for customers and clients on your holiday list. Wine Warehouse of Sarasota, (941) 922-8216; Wine Warehouse of Palmetto, (941) 722-2255,

At The Monogram Market in Bradenton, owner Lindsey Leech has amassed a stunning array of linens, accessories and children's gifts that will fit everyone's budget. Try a set of glass paperweights ($15; slip a photo inside) or a monogrammed canvas bag that is perfect to tote to the beach or your boat ($50). Last year, Leech supplied ceramic birdhouses ($22) for Mike Carter Construction to give its employees. She has also done such gifts as monogrammed acrylic wine glasses (four glasses for $45) and bucket ($40), doormats ($45) and personalized stationery (about $25). Around the holidays, Leech spreads good cheer among her customers by adding a free monogram on whatever someone buys. The Monogram Market, (941) 761-8303, For five top-of-the-line gifts for those extra-special clients, see below.


Etiquette expert Peter Post provides the bottom line.

Peter Post knows a thing or two about gift-giving etiquette: His great-grandmother was Emily Post; his mother Elizabeth (who lives in Naples) wrote an etiquette column for Good Housekeeping magazine for 30 years; and his sister-in-law Peggy (who lives in Bonita Springs) co-wrote the 1999 book The Etiquette Advantage in Business. Peter writes a business etiquette column that appears in the Boston Globe, the Sunday Boston Globe and is carried by The New York Times syndicate.

Post offers this advice on gift-giving by businesses during the holidays.

"Look at the bottom line budget that you can spend,'' he says. "You shouldn't have to take out a loan to buy gifts for your clients.''

Review the size of your client list. "Some companies may have 100 clients, some just three,'' Post says. If you have 100 clients, "you might take the top five clients and send them something.'' Send holiday cards to the others.

If you have just a few, say three or so, you might want to send them each something. "Use your smarts,'' he says. If you can afford a $150 gift basket, go for it; if not, scale back to something within your budget.

What if you have a business with a lot of clients who all generate about the same level of business for your company? You might have an insurance agency with 4,000 or so clients. What should you do? "Instead of giving a gift to each one, then you might want to make a donation to a charity such as United Way and send a card to each client saying that a donation has been made in your name,'' Post suggests. The Emily Post Institute did just that one year; another year they gave mugs that were imprinted with the words "consideration," "respect," "honesty" and "kindness"-sentiments that are right in step with the holiday season.

1 It's a clear, starry night and you're strolling the deck of a gorgeous 57-foot Honduran teak Trumpy yacht that is seeped in history. Trumpy yachts were the Bugatti of boats, custom-built to each owner's exact standards and the boat of choice for the Rockefellers, Dodges, DuPonts and even presidents (the U.S.S. Sequoia is a Trumpy). Southwest Florida's own Trumpy, the Emma, is docked at Riviera Dunes in Palmetto. She accommodates six guests and charters for $1,200 for a half-day ($2,400 for a full day). Sunset cruises and other custom packages are available. Call owner Bill Jenkins Jr. for information at (863) 838-4213.

2 I'm dreaming of a .blue box from Tiffany's at Tampa's International Plaza ( The sterling silver perpetual calendar ($200) is a fabulous gift, as are the other sterling silver gems such as the letter opener ($135), the pen and pencil set ($150), the key chain ($80 to $200 depending on the design) and the picture frames (ranging from $200 to $400). Have them engraved: The first three machine-engraved letters are $8 each; the first three hand-engraved letters are $25 each. Tiffany & Co., (813) 351-8800,

3 Golfers on your list? The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota offers a "guilt-free'' golf holiday for discerning couples who can choose between putting or pampering-with or without their companion-to create their most enjoyable vacation experience. The package includes two rounds of golf, two 50-minute Swedish massages, two nights in a deluxe or water-view room, two full American breakfasts, two signature cocktails at the Gulf-front Members Beach Club on Lido Key and 10 percent discount on all spa services. Package rates start at $579 per night through Dec. 21. The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, (941) 309-2000,

4 Photographer Gary Sweetman's expert eye captures just the right moment, so how about a 20-inch by 24-inch color or black-and-white photograph of your client and their family on their yacht or next to their plane? Budget about $800. (941) 748-4004,

5 How about a vertical wine tasting for your nearest and dearest, sampling wines from, let's say, a 1996 vintage to a 2001 at your home? Ark Boutique Catering in Bradenton offers just that. Chef Christian Hershman will whip up a feast to accompany each course while the sommelier explains the wine to the guests. A recent wine tasting for six lucky people featured the Ric Forman cabernet sauvignon, a boutique wine from St. Helena in Napa Valley, and such delights as a roasted lamb chop with coconut-tomato masala and braised leek and slow poached Applewood smoked bacon with potato puree, white asparagus and meat jus. The tab? This particular dinner was $130 per person, with Riedel glassware, china and silverware provided. The wine is extra. Ark Boutique Catering, (941) 527-1271,

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