Disclaimer: We are excited to share this guest article written by Brittany Hodak. Brittany Hodak is an international keynote speaker and award-winning business leader. Entrepreneur calls her an “expert at creating loyal fans for your brand,” and she is widely regarded as the “go-to source” on creating and retaining superfans. Dayspring Pens is not a paid affiliate.
What’s the most memorable gift you’ve ever received?
Think about it. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. 😉
Here’s two examples from my own experience:
When I was seven years old, my grandma gave me a giant box filled with every art supply imaginable: paint, markers, crayons, construction paper, glitter, glue – you name it, it was in the box.
I'll never forget the happiness I felt digging through that seemingly bottomless box of goodies.
A decade later, for Valentine's Day my senior year, my then-boyfriend bought me a giant teddy bear and decked it out with a dozen or more gifts and trinkets for me to discover one by one: The teddy was wearing a cute green jacket from American Eagle, a trendy necklace, bracelets, and one of those 90s-style backpack purses filled with more fun surprises, like nail polish and candy and concert tees.
It was one of the most fun gifts ever — especially as I discovered that all of the items were my size.
What do both gifts have in common? They were creative, thoughtful, and centered around me.
That's why, decades later, I still remember every detail, long after the markers dried up and the backpack purse went out of style (although, to be honest, we should really think about bringing those back!).
They were more than gifts — they were the centerpieces of unforgettable experiences. I’m willing to bet the best gifts you've ever received share those same traits.
The Importance of Personalized Gifting
We all purchase gifts several times a year — whether it’s your partner’s birthday, a colleague’s retirement, or your cousin’s baby shower. And yet, even with so much practice, gift-giving stumps many of us.
Gifting is an artform that, when leveraged correctly, can elevate your relationships, referrals, and revenue. It’s a relationship-building skill that every executive should master.
No matter what type of present I’m buying – personal or professional, I always follow one rule: personalization.
When you give a personalized gift, you’re showing that you understand the person’s interests and you appreciate and care about them as an individual.
Gift giving is inherently personal. We are choosing an item or experience with someone very specific in mind.
When I learn new details about my clients, I capture these notes in my CRM so that when it’s time to send a gift, I’ll have plenty of ideas ready to go. I can’t tell you how many clients have said to me, “I can’t believe you remembered that!” when I surprise them with a gift that connects back to a conversation we had months prior. This technique will undoubtedly help you stand out to your customers. Plus, they’ll think of you every time they use the gift you got them, keeping you top of mind when a friend asks for a referral in your category.
You might be thinking, well, that’s great advice, but I haven’t written anything down in a CRM or anywhere else and I need a gift idea stat!
Try a Personalized Guestbook!
My favorite go-to gift to get for a housewarming present, wedding, client appreciation, or just about any occasion is a customized guestbook and pen, like this engraved journal and ballpoint pen set from Dayspring Pens.
Why does a personalized guestbook make such a great gift?
1. It’s universal
There’s a reason this is my go-to gift. It works for almost anyone in my life! I’ve gifted these as housewarming gifts for couples, a ‘thank you gift’ for a generous host, a personalized piece of home décor for clients, and even as an engagement present for couples to display at their wedding.
The journal is leather-bound, so it will last. Both the pen and the journal can be personalized with text, elevating it into that space of personalization.
And to be completely candid, I’m always losing pens. The fact that this journal has a built-in pen pocket makes it that much easier to keep the set together.
Finally, this is one of those gifts that I don’t have to worry about someone having already.
2. You can get creative with it
Anyone can order a run-of-the-mill pen or notebook but when you take the time to send a personalized set, it shows the recipient that you went the extra mile (and with free engraving, why wouldn’t you?).
Just as their name or custom detail will be permanently etched onto the journal and pen forever, you will be top of mind whenever it’s used (which will be often, by the way!).
Aside from engraving a friend’s name or address, you can get really fun and clever with it, too. I’ve used inside jokes, nicknames, and even fantasy sports team names as inspiration for inscriptions.
If you’re buying a pen as a gift for a client, you could really wow them by engraving their business name on the front of the book (Pro tip: Never send a gift with YOUR logo on it. That’s not a gift, it’s an ad! Swag is not a gift)
I have a lot of friends who are published authors, and when I know they’re starting to write another book, I always send them a new personalized pen with a motivational quote or the new title engraved.
I make sure they know they’re ONLY to use that pen when they’re working on the book — it’s a special pen to get them into the right (and write) mindset!
In fact, I just finished the first draft of a book called Creating Superfans, and every time I was writing instead of typing (which was often!), I used a gorgeous pen from my sister-in-law, Dawn, and a notebook from my Aunt Vicki that I reserved for only that purpose.
When I busted out that notebook and pen, it was a cue to my brain that it was time to get in writing mode!
I’ve even gifted custom pens with friends’ favorite song lyrics or personal mantras, which is another way to show that I care about their interests. Have fun with it! The sky’s the limit when you’re making an effort to let people know you care.
3. It’s timeless and memorable
The best part about gifting someone a personalized guestbook and pen is that you’re helping them capture memories.
My husband and I have had a journal in our guest room since we moved from New York City to Franklin, TN five years ago. When we have our out-of-town friends and family stay over, I always have them sign our guestbook. Guests often write about the time we spent together, including all of the activities we did and the stories we laughed about.
In today’s digital world, how often do we get handwritten memories from our loved ones?
It’s amazing to go back and read some of the entries from when I first moved to Tennessee, or when one of my closest friends came to visit and met my son for the first time. In fact, whenever someone stays at my house, they’ll often tell me they stayed up late just reading through all of the pages in the guestbook! My journal has truly become a time capsule for my family.
The best part? Everyone else wrote it for me! How’s that for crowd-sourcing something that I probably never would have taken the time to do myself?
Last summer, when a business associate generously invited me to stay at his home, I noticed he didn't have a guestbook in his spare bedroom. Since he often invites guests to stay in his home, I knew a personalized guestbook and pen would make the perfect thank you gift. And, instead of simply engraving it with his name, I called back to a funny term he kept using to refer to his guest suite.
I authored the first entry to set the tone for the book (and included a card talking about how much I love my own guestbook!) and sent it off. He loved it!
A few months later, I got a message from another friend: a picture of my page in the guest book!
Turns out, he was staying with my friend — whom I didn’t even know he knew. This has happened several times with multiple friends. It’s always fun to be reminded that the world is even smaller than we think!
The next time you’re looking for a gift that’s the perfect blend of personal, practical, and memorable, give this set a try. I’m willing to bet that it will soon become a favorite go-to gift for just about everyone on your list!
Gift-giving is all about making someone feel appreciated at a moment that matters. Never be afraid to use personalization and creativity to transform a seemingly-standard gift into a one-of-a-kind keepsake.
Be sure to check out other gifting options in the Dayspring Pens collection!
To read more from Brittany, check out her blog.
Daniel is the President and CEO of Dayspring Pens. He lives in Virginia with his wife and their four children. Learn more about Daniel's bio.