As we return to the workplace and face-to-face business events, our experts have plenty of ideas to get team members feeling more connected and appreciated.

Everyone needs to feel valued, especially these days. We’ve all experienced how the pandemic has disrupted workplace relationships as well as our ability to make in-person business connections. Under the radar creative strategies such as group activities, team building and gifting have taken on renewed importance to ensure everyone feels valued and motivated to do their best work.

Enhance Experiences With a Tailored Takeaway

One of the most effective ways to help people feel more connected is to create something fun together.

MakeLab, a creative technology studio, recently guided 50 Autodesk clients through a workshop to design their own personalized gingerbread houses. It was an opportunity to experience Autodesk’s professional Construction Cloud software firsthand, and to have a little fun. Following the event, each guest received a personalized gingerbread construction kit complete with 3D-printed cookie cutters, blueprints to build their houses, cookie mix and decorations.

Jonathan Moneta, MakeLab founder and creative director, says collaborations are more meaningful when participants take home a physical reminder or “artifact.”

“C-level executives don't get to do any of the cool design stuff. We’re often showing them some of the challenges that their own staff goes through,” Moneta explains. “And we always ensure they take home a physical artifact that they themselves designed as a reminder of the experience and the messaging the brand is trying to convey. It has to be new, interesting and relevant.”

Gingerbread construction kit with cookie cutters, candy cane and gingerbread
Workshop participants used Autodesk Construction Cloud software to design their own gingerbread houses

Intentional Gifting That Tells a Story

Toronto is a collision of cultures, languages, tastes, ideas, and creative collaborations. Erin Maynes, founder of foodiepages, works with small businesses to create intentionally curated gift boxes that weave together local storylines. 

Maynes and her team seek out smaller Canadian brands that offer specialized items, such as eco-friendly products, and she works with minority, women, and BIPOC-owned businesses. Their products often show up in the company’s Toronto-themed gift boxes, and Maynes can also create customized packages that showcase specific neighbourhoods, such as Little Italy, Liberty Village, and Yorkville. Recently, she partnered with the One of a Kind Show to create limited edition collections that profile some of the show’s vendors.

Food Gift Box
Foodiepages works with event planners to weave Toronto storylines into gifting programs

Focus on Stability and Connection

Because we’ve been through so much over the past two years, people are really focused on stability, says Joanna Wiseberg, president, Red Scarf Gift Company. “Clients and employees want to know that their business relationships are on solid footing and that the C-suite is going in the right direction. People are receptive to messages of joy, happiness, appreciation, and reassurances that the organization is invested in their well-being.” 

When designing a gift package, it should be very obvious to the recipient how much thought was put into it, Wiseberg advises: “I can't emphasize enough that you have to really think about how the recipient will view your brand when the gift is delivered and unwrapped. Creativity and personalization are key. It has to have a deeper meaning and make the receiver feel special.”

“You’re On Mute” mug with "Wake up & Be Awesome" coaster
“You’re On Mute” mug and “Wake Up And Be Awesome” coaster help lighten the mood during virtual meetings

Appreciation Strategies

Incentives and Rewards: Create an exclusive experience by hiring a Toronto chef to cook a meal for a top performer and their family. Leave behind a gift basket brimming with gourmet goodies and artisanal items, such as a handcrafted charcuterie board or ceramic serving bowl.

Enhance Family Time: Working from home has meant longer hours. Reward both the recipients and their families by giving gifts that everyone can enjoy, such as puzzles, gourmet popcorn, cozy blankets, and games.

Home Tech: Make working from home easier with tech items such as wireless mobile device chargers or special lighting for video calls.

Virtual Snacking: Upgrade weekly Zoom calls with fresh, healthy snacks made by local entrepreneurs. It’s an opportunity to support regional suppliers and small businesses.

Personal Wellness: Show you care about well-being by designing a gift box that includes a yoga mat or meditation cushion, aromatherapy diffuser, and essential oils.

Seasonal Kits: Theme gift boxes according to the season, such as a spring gardening, summer barbecue, fall harvest, or winter hot cocoa.

Attention to Detail: “I recently created a kit that included handmade cookies and chocolate bombs with mini marshmallows made by two local women. I printed a postcard explaining the all-natural ingredients. All the little details are important,” says Red Scarf’s Joanna Wiseberg.


For more unique Toronto gifting ideas check out: Shop Local: Where to Buy Uniquely Toronto Gifts & Souvenirs