Gift giving – Why do we give gifts?

September 20, 2008
It seems like gift giving is an expected ritual, the act of going out and purchasing a gift has therefore become second nature to the majority of individuals. For example, you know it is so and so’s birthday on this date and therefore you need to ensure you have purchased (whether that be spending time browsing online stores or physically walking around shops) and wrapped a gift to give them. There are so many special occasions, the list is endless; birthdays, wedding anniversarys, anniversaries, valentine’s day, christmas, new year, weddings, christenings, graduations, passing a driving test, passing exams, having a baby, beginning university, house warmings and you probably realised that all these occasions usually require a gift to be given. My special occasions list, which is by no means exhaustive we can see that any event, big or small may require a gift to be purchase, wrapped and then given. 
 
Gifts are given as a way of showing the recipient that they deserve something in acknowledgement for the day or event that is causing some celebration. Gifts are given as a way of making the recipient feel special, loved, happy and in some ways also valued. Giving a gift symbolises that the gift giver knows and understands the recipient, as hopefully the gift will be relevent and of value to the person it is given to. Traditionally, flowers, chocolates, money and wines are given as gifts, but in today’s society where technnologies and ideas are constantly developing, it is possible to use your imagination and find gifts that are bound to make the recipient truly happy and grateful for the time and effort you have spent on finding the perfect gift for them.
 
Giving gifts should be a choice to see the happiness they bring to a loved one’s face in acknowledgement of a special occasion or event, gift giving should not be seen as an obligation, even though tradition and society may have made it so.
Advertisements

Birthdays, Birthdays and more Birthdays – When is one officially “over the hill”?

September 12, 2008
‘Over the hill’ is a colloquial phrase used for the very simple term, ‘old’. Where did this idiom come from though? It cannot be known for sure, but the phrase perhaps came from the fact that cemeteries in the past were often built on hills overlooking lower areas of towns and villages. Therefore, someone who had passed away would be buried somewhere over this hill. This idiom ‘over the hill’ has been adapted and now has common usage in the english language. Another possibility could be that the first part of one’s life is going uphill, because you’re young and have plenty of time to experience life, explore the world and everything in it, but once you’ve done all of this and you’re at the top, it’s all then downhill, suggesting you are ‘over the hill’.  
 
I think the age that one feels or becomes ‘over the hill’ differs for each individual. I’m 21 and upto my 18th birthday, I was sure that by my 30th birthday I would be  old;  over the hill, and my parents, who were 41 years and 44 years old at the time, were definately past it. Now that I’m slowly getting closer to thirty, the goalpost for me is changing with anything past 40 years of age now being classed as ‘over the hill’. You see 40th birthday, 50th birthday and 60th birthday cards in greeting card shops littered with jokes about being ‘over the hill’ and ‘past it’. Do these jovial remarks mean that after the age of thirty nine, you can no longer make the most out of life?
 

I asked friends and family what they thought:
 
“60th or 65th birthday – Just because it’s the normal age of retirement. Really though, I think being over the hill has more to do with a person’s mental abilities than their age. I know some 80 year olds who still have it together where it counts, and some 40 year olds who are pretty senile already!”  
 
A neighbour told me that ‘It took me [him] 50 years to look this good!’ – I guess he doesn’t believe that he’s over the hill yet.
 
I carried out a survey, part-takers had to decide whether in their opinion they counted the following birthdays as being over the hill.
 
Birthday – Over the hill?

 

 Research shows that in today’s society men are living upto the age of 76 and women to the age of 81, as opposed to 66 and 71 respectively during the 1950’s. This is a dramatic increase in the length of the average life, it’s a huge 10 years extra in just 60 years or so, thanks to the development of medicine and technology. So in theory, being 40 years old is only half-way through ones life today, instead of two thirds through one’s life 60 years ago.  To conclude: people used to have shorter lifespans 60 years or so ago, living on average to the age of 66 (males) and 71 (females). The age one would feel or be classed as old in that time would consequently be younger than in today’s society where people are living upto the ages of 76 (males) and 81 (females). When then, is one officially over the hill?  From asking people and taking into account my own opinion, I think that it’s all about perception, you are over the hill when you feel and think you’re too old to live life to the fullest.
 

Christmas presents and gifts; gift ideas, how to avoid the mad rush with a few online gift stores

August 17, 2008

Christmas is still a few months away, but it’s almost September and as soon as the sales end the shops are going to be kitted out with their christmas ranges. Chocolates, cards and plenty of treats will be available for the festive celebrations, which consequently means time to start thinking about what christmas gifts to get for Auntie Sally, the next door neighbour and your third cousin’s children!

Are you fed-up of wasting time buying the same old things; socks, smellies, ties and chocolates? If you feel like having a change for Christmas 2008 and wish to avoid spending hours and hours in queues, pushing past people trying their best to find unique and original gifts, but at the same time trying to get it all over with as soon as possible , why not try buying Christmas presents online?

Purchasing christmas gifts for friends and family needn’t wait until Christmas Eve! You can bypass the queues, put your feet up and even drink cup of tea whilst browsing leisurely the array of online stores offering special, original and personalised christmas gifts from today.

To lead you upto Christmas, you might need some chocolate advent calendars, I’d recommend Sweet Temptations (www.chocolateadventcalendars.co.uk) who have a wide range of fairtrade chocolate advent calendars. Or, for something a little more upmarket, try (www.storkgifts.co.uk/ginatadventcalendar.htm) for a giant felt advent calendar with Christmas decorations and pockets, guaranteed to make any house look festive over the Christmas period.  

A surprise gift often loses all meaning, especially if the recipient has to trek to an out-of-town post office to collect it. Geneiva Chocolates (www.geneivachocolates.co.uk) and its sister company Hotel Chocolat specialise in chocolates by post. Not only do the firms offer an impressive range of boxed chocolates, the special chocolate postal packs have been designed to fit through a standard letterbox.

You can give chocolates for every occasion under the sun, and perhaps you have?! It’s now time to try something different, if this will be you’re first time ordering online, you might as well continue with the theme! Why not try looking at personalised gifts, as really special gift ideas? Find a unique christmas gift for each member of the family and all your friends, at affordable prices, which won’t break the bank!

Flowers: Obviously, you’ve got Interflora, who you know are probably going to do a great job at getting your flower gifts delivered, but other online florists who also deserve a mention include (www.flowersdelivereduk.com), they do some amazing personalised roses! You can choose silk roses or fresh roses to add your personalised message onto and (www.serenataflowers.com), they have a fab range of flowers, often with some good deals.

Will you be, or have you been invited to someone’s house over the festive season or a you looking for a wonderful looking group gift? Hampers are a wonderful gift idea, they can contain an assortment of food, condiments and treats, and the container itself is often highly desirable. Good quality hampers needn’t cost the earth, either. Harrods (www.harrods.co.uk), for example, have hampers from as little as £30. Thorntons www.thorntons.co.uk, also offer a Corporate Christmas Party Box which is filled with party poppers, indoor sparklers, balloons and wine as well as delicious snacks, such as chocolate, turkish delight, toffee, fudge, truffles and even a model chocolate santa and Rudolph. It’s a beautifully-designed gift idea!

Alcoholic gifts are well received at any time, especially Christmas and most suppliers have a price range which is flexible enough to suit any budget. Specialist firms despatch everything from a single bottle of wine to cases of top Champagne costing many thousands of pounds. (www.sparklingdirect.co.uk) have a brilliant range of champagne, cristal champagne and champagne gift packs.

(www.WineGifts4U.co.uk/christmasgifts.php?catid=97) also do a great range of personalised gifts including personalised wine gifts, personalised champagne, engraved gift ideas, personalised ale, teddy bears, design your own mugs and design your own t shirts for him, her and all members of the family. Perhaps this could be a one-stop shop to get everyone’s Christmas presents from this year?

Looking for something slightly more adventurous? Try (www.intotheblue.co.uk) who offer a superb range of exhilaration day gifts, day’s out and experience days. 

Christmas gifts are an annual “problem”, it can get tiring and expensive, gifts of specialist foods and wines are a great idea, particularly at a time of year when people celebrate with family and friends. The websites and gift ideas offered here, will hopefully make it easier for you to find something extra special for your loved ones this year, taking away unnecessary hassle and tension during a time that’s supposed to be full of happiness and good will.  

 

Personalised Mugs and Design Your Own Mugs – How To Get The Most From Your Designing Your Own Mugs

August 7, 2008
Obviously, we want you to be happy with your final personalised mug designs, you create on the website, www.WineGifts4U.co.uk, so we have put together a few tips and ideas to help you along the way…(hopefully!)
We believe the three key areas you need to look at before submitting your personalised mugs are photo quality, image size and positioning of personalised message.
 
Photo Quality:
 
Uploading a photo or an image onto your personalised mugs is a fairly simple task, using our interactive ‘design your own’ mug tool, which will take you through all the steps of designing your own mug. The main thing to consider though, in order to get the best out of your personalised mug (and be totally impressed) with the final product is to upload the best quality and sized photo or image.
 
To get the best image on your personalised mugs, may we suggest that you upload a digital photograph or an image from a modern digital camera, which was set on the high quality or fine setting?
 
You can upload a scanned image or photo onto your personalised mugs. The quality of this may be slightly reduced, but we are able to do some minor magic, to help you get the best from your image. If you would prefer us NOT to retouch your image or photo at all, please let us know. We won’t mind!
 
Using a photo uploaded from a camera phone may also not bring you the best quality, but if this is the only image you’ve got, give it a try and we’ll see what we can do.
If we think the image or photo you have provided for your personalised mugs just won’t work, we’ll let you know!
 
Image Size
 
You can upload images and personalised messages onto one, the other or both sides of the mugs. Portrait and landscape images are both great, but how great they look on the mug are dependent on whether you would like the same image on both sides or a different image on each side. Portrait and portrait images work really well, but portrait and landscape images don’t look so great (but are still possible to do).
 
We use the whole image on the personalised mugs, so please ensure you want all of the image on the mugs before uploading it. If you need to edit the image before placing it on your personalised mugs, we suggest using Picasa, a free image editing software from google, http://picasa.google.com .
 
Personalised Message
 
The message often looks best just above, or just below an image ( this is if you wish to have both an image and text on one or both sides of the personalised mug). If you place the text over the image, it usually doen’t work, as it is very hard to read the text. If you are just using text, centering the text on each mug side looks brilliant as does using the largest font size you can to fit the space. Please make sure you can see all of your personalised message before submitting your final personalised mug, because if you can’t see the text on the mug on your design, you might not be able to see it on the final product (although again, here we can use a bit of imagination and minor magic!)
 
We have put together these few tips to help you get the best out of your design your own mug experience. If you have any further questions or queries, please do get in touch, we would be more than happy to help!

Do you know what you’re drinking? – Alcohol and Units

August 7, 2008

I think many of us have no idea what we are drinking, because the system the UK uses for measuring alcohol in beverages is slightly complicated, so I’ve put together a helpful and easy to use guide so you can drink safely & responsibly!

The alcohol content of drinks is measured in units, with one UK unit containing eight grams of pure alcohol. Now, you can’t just count each drink as one unit of alcohol unfortunately, as the number of units depends on the different strength and size of each drink, so it can vary a lot.

Know Your Units – How do I calculate what I’m drinking?

There’s a whole load of alcoholic beverages on offer; wine, fortified liquers, beer, lager, spirits, ready to drink bottles, stout etc and each drink has a different alcohol content, you can see from the examples below just how the unit content of alcholic drinks actually differ…


Small Glass of Wine – 175ml – 12% abv = 2.1 Units

Spirits – 35ml – 40% = 1.4 units

Pint of Standard Beer or Cider – 568ml – 4.1%abv = 2.3 Units

Bottle of Beer or RTD – 275ml – 5% abv = 1.4 Units


To figure out how many units your alcoholic beverage is worth, there’s a simple formula:

Unit = [Volume (ml) x abv]/1000

Small Glass of Wine – 175ml – 12% abv = 2.1 Units

175ml x 12/1000 = 2.1 Units

Can you guess how many units each of the drinks below contains?  Scroll down for the answers.

What do you think the units for each glass are?

What do you think the units for each glass are?

 

They all contain one unit of alcohol. It's surprising, don't you think?

 

 

So, what’s healthy?

The UK Government advises that men should not regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units per day and women should not take in more than 2 to 3 units each day. Continuously drinking four or more units for men, and three or more for women can lead to progressive health issues, so it is best to stick to the recommended levels!

Drinking and Driving…

The legal drink-drive limit is 80mg per 100 millilitres of blood, but this cannot easily be translated into alcohol units as this measurement can be affected by age, weight, sex and whether food has been eaten, plus a host of other factors. It is therefore (to be safe) best not to drink and drive!

A little interesting fact: Your body breaks down alcohol at a rate of about one unit per hour – and nope, there’s no way you can speed this up!

Recessionary pressures in the UK and how small-medium sized businesses can succeed

August 5, 2008
I rarely listen to the radio (unless I am forced to listen to Radio 2 at work), I never read the papers, and watching the news on television bores me. However, given my lack of interest in current affairs, with no mortgage to pay and limited responsibilities, up until now I wasn’t bothered about world news or national issues. Lately though, I can’t help but notice the recent dramatic changes in the UK’s economic climate.
 
I work for a company, Vin De Terre Ltd, which established itself eleven years ago as a wholesaler in beers, wines and spirits, supplying shops within a fifty-mile radius of Spalding. This strategy worked fine until 1999, when supermarkets began selling alcohol at cut prices making it very difficult to compete in the market place. Vin De Terre Ltd, therefore diversified into a slightly different market segment, providing a similar service to pubs, clubs and restaurants, which had a very positive influence on profit margins. Since 2005, even this sector has also shown an enormous decline and with the smoking ban in public places taking effect from July 2007, as well as the widespread reduction in disposible incomes the whole pub sector has taken a very big hit.
 

Being an innovative company, the wholesale business in 2006 decided to find another opportunity of selling goods available from exisiting suppliers, and has since developed and established an online e-commerce website, www.WineGifts4U.co.uk selling personalised wine gifts, wine gifts, which were originally sold in bulk to exisiting restaurant customers within a 50-mile radius of Spalding, Lincolnshire but are now available to individual customers thoughout the UK.
 
The idea to sell personalised wine online came from a conference, which was attended in 2005 by our Managing Director, Asgar Dungarwalla. A presentation was given by Viking Direct, the stationary supplier, who make a point of personalising all of their customer mailshots in order to create a rapport with their customers by offering a unique selling point, making stationary seem a little more interesting.  So, it seems the key to stay in business through these tough time is to be innovative, continuously looking for new ideas to excel within the market place.

 
Even without taking notice of the media and the situation at work, it is obvious to me that the country’s economic situation is fairly delicate at the moment, with recessionary pressures hitting small, medium and large companies as well as the general public; the ever increasing fuel prices are a primary factor. Petrol is now at £1.15 per litre at my local supermarket, and I remember it costing 70 pence per litre not so long ago. Also, over a similar time frame, the cost of a weekly shop has gone from £100 to £150, meaning living costs have been rising sensationally, but my salary hasn’t gone up as spectacularly (or at all infact!), leading to a fairly low disposible income left over at the end of the month. Some food producers have seen the cost of key ingredients rise by as much as 300% over the past year, and earnings for major food companies like Kellogg (K) and Kraft (KFT) have taken a hit. Ernest and Young describe the current economic climate as a “horror movie” at risk of turning into a “disaster movie” and Simon Rubinsohn, the RICS’s chief economist suggested, “There are no positives out there right now”. This is all rather worrying and with the credit cruch too…
 

What is a “credit crunch” ?

The issues with setting up an online business

May 22, 2008

This is not a sales pitch as such, but it is an account of my tumultuous experience in setting up an online business, www.WineGifts4U.co.uk, selling original personalised gift ideas for all occasions. In reality, setting up a full e-commerce website is a very complex topic, which might take me a while to explain, so I’m going to condense it down into manageable chunks over a few weeks:

 

1)    The motive behind setting up an online business.

2)    How did we go about setting up an e-commerce website?

3)    Problems we faced after putting the website “live”.

4)    Website development.

5)    Top Tips that we think will help new e-business starters to avoid the mistakes we made.

 

Let’s start from the beginning…

 

During 2006 and 2007, with a little (ok, a lot of) help from our in-house graphic designer, Lea, my sister, Hanifa, my dad, Asgar and an ingenious web coder named Charlie, a website www.WineGifts4U.co.uk was created.

 

The motive behind setting up an online business

 

Vin De Terre Ltd was established in 1997 by Asgar Dungarwalla, as a wholesaler in beers, wines and spirits supplying pubs, nightclubs, restaurants and sports clubs within a fifty-mile radius of the warehouse. The company began with just three employees eleven years ago, and over time has grown to employing nine members of staff today. Over the last two years, Vin De Terre Ltd has diversified its product range to include personalised gifts, including personalised wine, personalised champagne, vodka, whisky, mugs, engraved items and a ‘design your own’ t shirt section. These gift ideas are incorporated onto and sold through the website, www.WineGifts4U.co.uk, which a subsidiary company of Vin De Terre Ltd

 

Over the last few years, due to raw material and fuel price increases, inflation and the smoking ban in July 2007, sales in beers and spirits have steadily declined, so the company has focused its efforts on wine, where there is growth and where margins are better.

 

The personalised gift business, WineGifts4U was developed following a conference six years ago, where the focus was on the ‘personalisation’ of marketing products and services, which captures the consumers’ attention. The brief for this website was a location where customers (the general public as well as corporate clients) could personalise the wines we sold on the wholesale side of the business, online and in real time with their own images and messages to create unique gifts (which would be appreciated by the recipient) for all major special occasions throughout the year.

T shirts – how are the “fashionable” ish ones made?

May 12, 2008

T-shirts are not a topic of conversation that one might normally spend time discussing, especially since there are much more pressing issues in the world, which certainly warrant more attention, such as cyclone’s in Burma, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7389541.stm and news of Royal Mail’s £200m losses http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/support_services/article3892886.ece .

However, I recently attended a meeting with one of our suppliers in order to understand how t-shirts often found in high street shops bearing witicisms, insults and funky art designs are made.

The t shirt making process (before heat transfer or screen printing) is a relatively simple automated process.

 

  1. The basic t shirt is designed and the dimensions are transferred to patterns

  2. The t shirt material is then cut to the dimensions of the pattern, these pieces can include seperate front and back sections or atubed body, sleeves, perhaps pockets and trim.

  3. The pieces are then sewn together. The hems of sleeves are generally finished before they are fitted into the garment, since it is easier to hem the fabric while it is flat. An automated system moves the sleeves to the sewing head by conveyor. The edge may be finished by folding it over, forming the hem and stitching, or by applying a band. The band may be attached as a superimposed seam or folded over the edge as binding.

  4. One or more labels are usually attached at the back of the neckline. Labels provide information about the manufacturer, size, fabric content, and washing instructions.

The t shirt is now ready to be designed upon!

There are two main processes which can be used to transfer ink or designs from a computer onto the plain t shirt or garment.

Sublimation

 

Sublimation itself is a process used to imprint a design or image onto products with a polymer-based surface. First the artwork is designed or scanned into your computer. The design is then printed using sublimation ink onto sublimation transfer paper, and heat applied to the receptive product such as a polyester coated outer tshirt using a heat press. The result is stretchable, extremely durable and can be washed without fading

Screen Printing

The increasing demand for low volume runs of personalised clothing combined with the ease and speed required when producing transfers, make the screen printing an excellent system for the personalisation of clothing.

Used in conjunction with a computer and a heat press, the screen printing can produce single or multiple colour transfers in a wide variety of high performance materials, including floc and flex materials.

The screen printing system allows businesses to produce transfers that can be industrially washed, dry cleaned, tumble dried and ironed, making them ideal for sports, promotional and work wear.

Company’s, individuals and groups of people use personalisation of garments. You only need to go to your local Wetherspoons to see those on a hen party or stag do, or check out your favourite football team playing at the weekend to see how popular and useful personalised garments can be.

So, many of the “fashionable” t shirts found in high street shops bearing funky designs are made using one of the technological processes above. Lucky for us, right? Else we’d all be walking around looking pretty plain and similar 😉

Who else wants to be puzzled?!

April 22, 2008
Puzzles – New Gift Ideas

We recently got some samples of puzzles sent to us, as part of our on-going attempt to find new and innovative gift ideas for you to be able to get unique gifts for your friends and family in one place (http://www.winegifts4u.co.uk) … Anyway…

There were plenty of useless puzzles (useless, not because they were rubbish or anything, just because I couldn’t figure them out!!), but there were some really interesting ones as well. We spent hours playing with them in the office. The fun part of the job 🙂

Wine thirsty puzzle – Try and untangle the wine bottles in this exciting puzzle, which will keep dad and the family occupied for hours! A wonderful gift idea this Father’s Day. What could be more frustrating than a bottle of wine trapped out of reach? See if you can release the bottle from the puzzle and open the cork to celebrate!

This wine thirsty one is awesome, I figured it out, but I must have spent at least 3 hours trying to.

Can you just imagine the frustration of being in reach of something worth having, yet not being able to get to it?

Put money, theatre tickets, a winning lottery ticket or something similar inside the box and close it up. Then give it to someone who really wants what’s inside and watch them struggle to get what’s in the box out!

Please Note: £20 note not included

Another good one is ‘Boxed Frustration’. It’s a good way of presenting gift vouchers, money or theatre tickets to someone…

A £20 note was put in this ‘Boxed Frustration’ by a member of staff, we were told if we could get the cash out, we could keep it. Unfortunately, this one is tough… We tried and tried, but the £20 note is still in there. It comes with the solution to the puzzle. Definately a good one to keep people occupied though!

We’ve put these ones plus a couple of others on the website with free postage and packaging. Take a look, I recommend them 🙂

How are the bubbles created in champagne?

April 15, 2008

How is champagne made?

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going to explain how champagne is made, but more specifically how the bubbles in champagne are formed. This I have now done via some experience, knowledge and a little research.

Put very simply, wine is a drink made from the fermented juice of freshly picked grapes. Fermentation is a natural process casued by yeast. Yeast are microscopic organisms that live naturally alongside grapes in the vineyards and winery. To live, yeast feed on sugar, as found in grape juice, converting it into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. At this point, for non-sparkling wines, the carbon dioxide gas is allowed to escape. Champagne is therefore created by instigating a second controlled fermentation after the wine is put in the bottle. The carbon dioxide creates the bubbles, which is now trapped in the wine!

Champagne can only be called so if the grapes used in the product are grown in the Champagne area of France.

I think it’s quite interesting. If anyone has any comments to make regarding Champagne, or good varieties that I should try please let me know!