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Members' Articles

Who'd have thought there was a Hamper Box shortage in Europe?

by Noel Greenwood from GWD

02nd October 2014

Post Type: Education Item

If I were to ask you for some of the most well known products that Britain exports to other countries, you’d probably be able to give me a few of the most famous.

Cadbury Chocolate, Marmite and Walker’s Crisps are three of the most famous foods that we ship out by the boatload every year, and Bentley and Aston Martin are massively popular all over the world too.

It’s fairly easy to understand the rationale behind these exports; after all, it’s hard to recreate the secret recipe behind Cadburys (if you meet an Australian/Australian/Kiwi they’ll almost certainly disagree), and it’s nigh on impossible to emulate the craftsmanship and sheer skill involved in building a Bentley or an Aston Martin from scratch.

Slightly more under the radar though, are presentation boxes (bet you didn’t know where I was going with this one!).

When most people think of presentation boxes, they think of the Far East exporting to the UK.  Affordable production, bulk material, big factories, the whole shebang. And lots of the time that is the easiest option. But for European retailers working with smaller orders on a tight schedule, GWD seems to be a popular option.

Hamper Boxes for an Architecture company in St Tropez
Hamper Boxes for an Architecture company in St Tropez

GWD can look after the smaller orders quickly and customers don’t have to worry about huge shipping costs because we can export to Europe on the road. In fact only the other day we made a batch of bespoke large handmade hamper and dress boxes for a high end German retailer called The Store.

They were beautiful boxes, with 3mm thick walls, and the client had pretty specific needs. The boxes had to have deep and close fitting lids, and they had to conceal the contents perfectly.

Store Boxes

We actually did the work through a UK promotions company, but it just struck me as odd that a German company was delving into the UK market to buy a box that they were just going to ship straight back to Germany.  But the reality is that Europe simply doesn’t have the ability and expertise to make products like this; certainly not for the dimensions that were required in this particular job.

So next time you’re thinking of what goodies the UK exports, don’t forget that GWD will export presentation boxes wherever there’s a demand, this latest one to Germany being a case in point.  Europe might have a hamper and dress box shortage, but the UK certainly doesn’t; thanks to us!


Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website:

Make it a Merry Christmas and Get Planning for your Festive Event NOW

by Shelley from Sourcerer Events

18th September 2014

Post Type: New Member Article

So the summer holidays are over. That familiar chill has returned to the mornings and darkness is starting to consume the evenings all too quickly. It can only mean one thing … Christmas is on its way!

Firstly we apologise to anyone who’s just had that ‘oh no’ feeling! However, if you are charged with organising something as big as a Christmas staff party, then this post should serve as a helpful nudge to get moving with your plans sooner rather than later, because there is heaps to do!

The good news is, the outstandingly organised people at Sourcerer are here to help. So if you are currently holding your head in your hands, recalling last year’s Christmas event and how it consumed all your time, we have some useful advice for you to make it much less of a chore this time around. And of course, as professional event planners, we can always help you in a practical sense, in whatever capacity suits you. Have a think about it – there’s still time – well, a little!

Christmas Party Planning Checklist

1. Set the Date

You may think dealing with this step further down the line is more logical, once you have decided on the theme and venue. But if you go making bookings before you are aware of what date suits the majority, then you could find yourself facing a dilemma. The festive season is a busy time when it comes to social calendars, so don’t delay and get those potential dates out there to gauge majority preference. Once decided, send a save the date email and note any ‘cannot attends’. Now you have your numbers, even a rough idea, it makes everything so much easier!

2. Set the Budget

Before you start any sort of planning you need to be clear on the budget. This will have a major impact on the party style and venue so you need to be certain from the start. Don’t forget to include a contingency to deal with unexpected expenses – they always tend to arise – so don’t spend it all at once!

3. Decide the Party Style

So now you know the budget it makes it easier to work out what type of party you can afford to hold. There are ways to rein in costs, so if you have your heart set on a fancy do, but are trying to stick to a limited budget, think about things like holding the party earlier in the year – November dates will often be less costly than December slots – and consider the day of the week. Parties are more often than not held towards the end of the week or at the weekend. Go for a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and it’s likely you’ll enjoy cheaper rates. You could even consider a January party instead, a welcome to the New Year – that way you’ve got a little more time – and you will be able to negotiate favourable prices.

There are three main types of party to choose from. Bespoke events take a lot of organising with venue hire, theming, catering and entertainment all to deal with individually, but they can be very memorable and have a lovely tailored feel about them. Pre-packaged Christmas parties supplied by venues – where you get a meal, crackers and drinks followed by entertainment – are often good value for money, but a little less personalised. And then you have your lunch or dinner in a local bar or restaurant with those who wish to going on for drinks or dancing afterwards. It really depends on the personalities involved, and of course the budget. Don’t forget to factor in things such as whether partners are invited as well as transport and accommodation if necessary.

4. Book the Venue

The venue will suit the party style and budget, will need to have capacity to accommodate your numbers, and of course have your preferred date available. Precisely why all the other steps need to come first! Think about location and accessibility too, and if necessary, whether there is overnight accommodation nearby. If you can’t decide at this stage, try making a few provisional bookings to keep your options open. During your research, have your preferred choice, then a plan B and plan C too, so that if you cannot get what you want, you are ready with a back-up and don’t have to return to the drawing board.

5. Choose a Theme

You don’t have to theme your Christmas party, but it does help make it memorable and is a great ice breaker too. Setting a theme and styling the venue is fun, but if you are lost for inspiration, speak to a professional party planner, as they’ll have lots of ideas. You can tie the theme in with your business somehow, perhaps a 1970s or 1980s theme for example if that’s when it was established. Film inspired themes are often popular, or you could go for a popular TV show, a location-based theme such as Spanish or Hawaiian, or something music-orientated. Whatever you choose you’ll need to incorporate it into every aspect of your party, so perhaps think about how you’ll do that before you disclose anything!

Don’t forget that an experienced events planner will be experienced in event theming and venue styling, so if you really want to go to town, get professional help! Last year, Sourcerer Events organised a large scale bespoke Christmas party for AVL Powertrain Ltd. The theme was Hollywood, and we really went to town on making every aspect of the event fit, with 7-foot Oscar statues, filmstrip props and a giant Hollywood sign. We even arranged usherettes to dispense popcorn in AVL’s corporate colour blue. Needless to say, it was a most memorable evening for all, including Sourcerer!

6. Organise Transport

Make getting to the venue hassle-free for everyone, and don’t forget arrangements for getting guests home safely too. Book taxis or mini-buses well in advance as these services are well in demand during the festive season. If you are holding a bespoke event, you may want to tie in the transport with your theme, such as hiring a bus decked out in 1970s garb, or Hollywood style limos.

7. Finishing Touches

The finishing touches will depend on your party style. A bespoke event will call for far more finishing touches such as cloakrooms and security for example, as well as corporate coloured popcorn and logo-decorated cakes of course!

If you are holding a packaged event or meal in a restaurant, then think about goody bags or personalised crackers. You may also want to hire a professional photographer to capture the event. Lots of businesses use such mementoes in their marketing and social media to show their customers what a nice company they are and how they take care of their staff. If you are watching the budget but fancy this idea, look for a student photographer who will do a good job for a fraction of the price.

Help is at Hand if you Need it!

We sincerely hope you have found some inspiration and useful advice in this post! If you would like a splash more, or have decided to make this year the year you call in professional event planning assistance, please get in touch! We look forward to helping you make your Christmas party a real cracker!

Shelley Morris of Sourcerer Wedding Planning & Event Management

07816 759607

This entry was posted in Corporate events and tagged Christmas do, Christmas party, Christmas party planning, Christmas staff party, Corporate Christmas party, event planner, Events planning, party planner, party planning. Bookmark the permalink.

The Best Choice A Client Ever Made

by Tina Dulieu from Coaching Dynamics: Tina Dulieu, B.Ed., Dip CEC

01st September 2014

Post Type: Other

We all have choices in our lives.  Some turn out to be the best decision we've ever made and others... well, I guess we all have hindsight wisdom!

This story, though, is one of great wisdom even though at the time my client, Danny Taylor of Novo Construction Ltd, was unaware of the enormous impact a choice he was to make would have on his life and the huge success of his business.  That choice helped take the business from a £300k turnover to a £3m turnover in 18 months - that's a phenomenal increase of 1000%!!

Danny's testimonial to Tina Dulieu of Coaching Dynamics is a heart-warming read and shows that with determination and the right advice and direction, the world is your oyster!

Tina Dulieu, B.Ed.,DipCEC
Business & Executive Coaching and Management Training
Coaching Dynamics

HNE Media - Video Production

by James Garrett from HNE Media

21st August 2014

Post Type: New Member Article

HNE Media are your friendly local Video Production company. Based in Allen House Business Centre in Sawbridgeworth we work with a wide range of clients in the local area and throughout the UK.

We film corporate and domestic video, everything from weddings, events, stage shows, live music, talent competitions and corporate promotional material.

To discuss your project please contact James Garrett, Partner.

01279 883 270

Shake those sequins...

by Vicky Wright from Shake & Shuffle

14th August 2014

Post Type: New Member Article
Shake those sequins...

You may have seen the hype over Facebook and Twitter already but if you didn’t know….Strictly is nearly here!

At Shake & Shuffle we get super excited this time of year as the sequins, the beautiful ball gowns and the bickering between judges are just a Quickstep away!

Monday this week saw the first day of rehearsals for the Strictly Come Dancing Professionals, including our very own FitStepper Natalie Lowe. We can’t wait to find out all the pro-celeb pairings!

Come Autumn, we always have enquiries for our classes because people love the idea of dance… the romance, the fun, the frivolity! FitSteps has quickly become one of our most popular classes, with no requirement for a partner (or co-ordination!) you can learn those beautiful dances seen on Strictly each week – and you’ll be getting a great workout, too! Take a look below to see just how much our participants love FitSteps:

“FitSteps is a great cardio exercise class that will have you smiling from beginning to end... and shedding the pounds while you do!”

“Hot, sweaty fun. Love every minute of the class. I use to do dance classes as a child and this is a great reminder of why I did it for so long.”

“Brilliant workout, great fun and very sweaty! From beginner to expert dancer there is something for everyone.”

“Fantastic..... very fun and even people with 2 left feet, like me, can do it. Great workout for your whole body, literally.”

So, if you have always wanted to float like Fred & Ginger or shake those hips to a cheeky Cha Cha then get yourself along to a FitSteps class here with us at Shake & Shuffle (you can find our class schedule from the links below).

If you haven’t already, make sure you like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! We might also throw some ‘Strictly’ related competitions in too – keep your eyes peeled!

Vicky x