Sniff it the Right Way on Fragrance Day

March 21 celebrates all the wonderful fragrances in the world. We often underestimate our olfactory nerves. Did you know that these nerves help us taste our food? Skeptical? Eat and drink while pinching your nose shut. The food will fail to stimulate your taste buds.

Smell plays a significant part in our memories as well. Certain smells will always remind you of certain incidents, and it is not as simple as the smell of bhajiyas frying making your mouth water. From musk to fruity to floral to woody and spicy – it is all about the play of the ‘upper notes’ with the ‘lower notes’… much like tasting wine. Here are some tips for office perfume etiquette that helps you make the right impression.

Choose Wisely : The only way to select a perfume that works well with you is to select it yourself. These days the fashion is to spray perfume onto strips of paper, wave them about and sniff delicately in between coffee bean shots. This does not help. Dab the perfume onto your wrists and wait for a few seconds. Just as wine takes time to come into its own and bloom into its true nature on your tongue, so does perfume take time to blossom on your skin. A perfume smells quite different a few minutes after it has been sprayed and its reaction with your skin also determines how long it will last. So ditch the paper strips and spray onto your skin directly; never mind the snooty sales assistant’s expression of distaste.
perfume
Perfume or Deo?
Fine you hate the thought of picking up those cheap deos that come in plastic bottles with spray buttons that need to be jabbed extra hard for them to work. Yet the expensive perfumes that you pick up fade away in four hours, max. That’s because they’re supposed to – they’re perfumes, not deodorants that are meant to last the whole day through. But look at the labels carefully – ‘eu de cologne’ is what you must avoid, ‘eu de deodorant’ is what you should go for, and there are plenty of brands offering your favorite smells in the deodorant format that will last you the whole day. Davidoff’s Cool Water is only one of the options.
Never, but Never Let Your Perfume Overpower You
Each perfume is different; some are mild and delicate, others like to dominate the air around them. It is never good to smell as if you have bathed in your perfume; Cleopatra had her reasons, but those are not for this day and age. You may smell pretty, but nobody wants to soak in floral or woody or musky fumes from your desk. Besides, studies have proven that your natural scent can work more wonders for you than anything from an assembly line. So always go for a subtle fragrance.
Wear it Right : Where you dab your perfume is as telling on you as the scent you choose. Never spray it on your clothing; besides leaving unsightly marks behind, it is just simply not done. Hold the bottle at a suitable distance and spray onto your wrists; contrary to popular perception perpetuated by the movies, you do not rub your wrists together – that destroys the top notes. Rub your finger on the bottle nozzle and apply the perfume behind your earlobes. Spray some on to your neck and cleavage and you’re all set. For added drama, you could spray the air and walk through it to ‘absorb’ the perfume – it ensures that you are almost literally enveloped in your perfume!
So go ahead and floor everybody with your perfumed aura that is certain to make your presence felt the right way.

Going Beyond the Rose for V-Day Bouquets

Roses are romantic, but a terrible cliché! There are many other flowers that spell love

BluebellBluebell
constancy and everlasting love

Ironically enough, it is thought to be unlucky to walk through or bring home. The Latin name for this flower is Endymion who was the lover of the moon Goddess, Selene. The goddess put Endymion into an eternal sleep, so she alone could enjoy his beauty.

CarnationCarnation
betrothal, love and fertility

This flower was believed to be an aphrodisiac, hence its popular use at weddings. Due to its association with love it was widely used in wreaths. Gentlemen began to wear carnations as a button hole, Oscar Wilde developed the fashion with a dyed green carnation.

The various carnation colours can mean different things: white – love; yellow – rejection; pink – I’ll never forget you; red – aching heart.

Forget-me-notsForget me not
true love and remembrance

Mythology describes this as the flower chosen by a brave knight for his sweetheart before going to battle, as he knelt to gather the tiny blue flowers he fell into a river and was swept away, calling to his love, ‘forget me not’.

honeysuckleHoneysuckle
devoted love

It is said to protect your garden from evil. It is known as the ‘love bind’ – symbolizing a lover’s embrace in its clinging growing habits. The heady fragrance of the flowers was believed to induce dreams of love and passion. If the bloom is brought into the house a wedding is said to follow within the year. But – the honeysuckle’s berries are poisonous!

HyacinthHyacinth
constancy

Mythology tells how a handsome youth, Hyacinthus, was loved by the god of the sun, Apollo, but Zephyrus, god of the west wind became jealous and blew the discus that Hyacinthus was playing with and killed him. Flowers sprang from drops of his blood and so became known as hyacinths.

PansyPansy
loving thoughts and attraction

Also known as ‘heart’s ease’, this pretty flower was believed to heal love problems. Anyone wanting to ensure they were loved by their sweethearts would carry a pansy.

PrimrosePrimrose
first love

Its name is derived from the Latin ‘primus’ meaning first, due to their early spring flowering. The primrose is the sacred flower of Freya, the Norse goddess of love and was used in rituals giving honor to her.

VioletViolet
faithfulness and modesty

During mediaeval times violets were believed to provide protection from evil spirits, and the leaves were used on wounds as healing plasters. Napolean Bonaparte sent Josephine a bouquet of it every anniversary and apparently wore a locket containing violets he had gathered from her grave. In medieval times the violet was strewn on the floor as an air freshener due to its sweet perfume.

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Corporate Gifting for the Secret Office Romance

So you have an office sweetheart. You know your job would be on the line if your boss got to know and you have to spend Valentine evening with your spouse, but you’re too much of a romantic to wait for work hours to get over before you give your flame a gift.

Romance in Office

Well, there are ways to get around your exuberance, and here they are –

  • Give everyone a small potted desk plant; hide your sweetheart’s real gift inside. Keep it sweet and small, or tiny and expensive.
  • Post the gift with a Secret Admirer card. If this is for your girlfriend, make it obvious, she’ll love the attention! If it’s for your boyfriend, no matter if he insists otherwise, he’ll love the attention too!
  • A photo frame may not be considered a highly interesting gift, but it is reasonably inexpensive to buy one for each colleague … and the one you give your sweetheart could be a special one. Any raised eyebrows? It is just a photo frame, after all! Slip a romantic card inside, meant for his or her eyes only.
  • Buy a gift and keep it ready for your sweetheart at the store. Email the link to the store website to him or her and give a glimpse of what’s waiting after office hours – he/she will leave with a bounce in his/her step.
  • Get to work early and leave a bouquet or a gift on your girlfriend’s desk – no note, no explanation for the office, but she will know it’s from you
  • Similarly, leave your gift at your boyfriend’s desk and hike the curiosity quotient of the office.

Valentine’s Day in the office when your relationship is supposed to be under wraps is quite a task, but with a few cautionary tactics you can stop it from becoming Land Mine Day. It’s all about presenting something special to your flame while in the public eye without arousing suspicions. Though it is very tough to hide – the world loves a lover and a lover can be spotted a mile away!

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Building the V-Day Mood in office

Valentines day moodSensitivity is the new buzzword in corporate circles these days, much like Friday Dressing and Power Lunching. Today, building solidarity with your employers and colleagues go way beyond mere efficiency on a project – showing team spirit is as much about caring through thoughtfully-chosen gifts as it is about doing overtime with everybody else. Building quasi-friendly relationships in the workplace goes a long way towards making the atmosphere light, stress-free and easygoing, which studies have proved lead to better output. While office decorum insists that V-Day celebrations be kept discreet, there’s no rule that says the celebrations must pass you by!

GENERAL POINTERS:

  • Pick soft shades of warm colours like a delicate pink, muted orange, a discreet red, a pale yellow etc, and deep (not bright) shades of cool colours like a sea green, teal blue and mature purple. Warm colours tend to be too eye-catching and distracting when selected in their vibrant shades, and cool colours tend to be cold and hard when chosen in their bright shades.
  • Keep the roses on the backburner – they’re too mushy and traditionally smack of love, but you can always stick other flowers in vibrant shades in your modern equivalent of an ink-hole and gain an aura of old-world charm.
  • Pick shapes that are slim and curved like a tall, willowy floor vase or an extra-slim watch

GETTING DOWN TO SPECIFICS:

  • Calendars: The only real option you have here is picking one with themes. Calendars come in a variety of love themes from raunchy K-S positions (strictly not recommended for the office!) to historical facts and figures about Saint Valentine would reduce any romantic feeling to dust. Select one that is easy on the eye, un-embarrassing to the recipient and gets the romantic feel across without giving rise to office gossip.
  • Watches: Keep the straps slim, the dial delicate with diamantes embedded in it, and pale colours for women. For men – go the traditional way with bulky black straps; after all, men have to be men!
  • Clocks: They come in various colours other than the usual black and brown ones, and in interesting shapes and sizes. Stay away from the ones whose faces are painted with hearts and teddy bears though as well as musical clocks – they are too distracting in a workplace.
  • Chocolates are the least fussy gift one can give to a person at the workplace – and the most innocent of all Valentine presents!

Celebrations are about marking the passage of time, but each need not be a raucous, loud expression of excitement. It is easy to set the right Valentine mood at the workplace without becoming unprofessional. However, it is always wise to find out from old-timers what the office protocol is, and then take it from there.

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Secrets of successful gifting strategies to build bonds with customers and consumers

In the following paragraphs, let’s try to understand finer aspects of gifting depending on to whom they are presented. Here we shall unravel secrets of successful gifting strategies to build bonds with customers and consumers.

Customers
Gift StrategiesWith today’s added and pronounced emphasis on corporate ethics, it is imperative that you not only scrutinize the gift and its recipient but also the mode of the presentation. Carefully consider the points below before you make your choice:

  • The first key thing is to finalize a list of those who you believe won’t mind accepting gifts
  • Once you have done so, carefully make the gift choice.
  • It is also crucial as how you are going to package and present them. For example, if you choose to ship gifts, you do away with a great opportunity of reinforcing the bonding between your customers and your sales force.
  • The point to be underlined here is that gifts have the maximum impact when they are presented in persona with a customized touch to make the receiver feel privileged.
  • The gift in itself and its worth may not matter so much if it’s dispatched and given in an impersonal manner. What enhances its worth it the way you opt to present it.

Consumers
Creative gift strategiesAt the outset, let’s be clear about that fact noncash awards or merchandise offered to consumers generally fall under this particular category of awards or premiums that come with games and sweepstakes. Now, let’s understand a bit more about the concept.

  • The motive is to add an element of surprise for the customer
  • Another purpose of giving noncash awards or merchandise is building long-term loyalty.
  • The key factor in successful employment of using consumer gifts as a relationship building strategy is to have a specific goal and focus in mind. This, in other words, means, targeting customers whose volume you are in a position to track over time.
  • Let’s take a practical case. A supermarket chain wants is looking to boost usage of its preferred-customer card scheme so it will be able to track their purchase patterns more accurately. It has given incentives to get consumers to sign up and make use of the card. However, its usage has begun to trail off. As part of its effort to keep alive interest in the preferred-customer card, the supermarket dispatches a surprise gift with a nice thank-you note from the president to all those who have actually used the card to purchase goods of say 1000 rupees in a month. This will result in mouth publicity and popularity of the scheme, thus fulfilling its end goal.

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Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Looking a Gift Horse in the MouthIn ‘America’s Sweetheart’, Billy Crystal’s character, super-publicist Lee dishes out pearls of wisdom on promotional strategies to his underling. One of them is this:

“Survival Rule no. 3, kid, you’re not here to love anybody, you’re here to promote a movie, that’s it – period. Say you’re here and you got word that your mother died, got hit by a bus or something. You go downstairs, shed a tear and say…It’s a shame, she would’ve loved this movie.”

And that’s how the cookie crumbles. Everything is about promotion and everybody wins in the game. The magazine editor wins with baskets of freebies, the movie producer wins with free merchandise that makes his characters look hip and the company wins with rising sales figures. It all began rather innocuously some time ago but burst in everybody’s face with Dil Chahta Hai where an MRF tyre was shot at close range from a stylish angle. Quite an ad.

Today it is all about selling the product, and boy does bollywood sell! Think ‘Bunty aur Babli’ when Rani Mukherjee’s patiala salwaars made sales shoot up. So clothing brands immediately latched on to what they rightly saw as a great promotional strategy. If Farah Khan wanted to sell Om Shanti Om, Shopper’s Stop wanted to sell its clothes; the two teamed up and the clothing brand stocked the movie’s clothing line, which ignited the 70s craze in Indian fashion. Kareena has donned a new look altogether for Globus and is all set to launch her own line of clothing through the company.

Today brands are in on the PR formula. Widespread advertisement through films (for a price of course) and goodwill promotion through corporate events is the best deal a brand can strike up, and the best way a corporation can reach out for mass appeal. It’s not for nothing that ABN Amro teamed up with fashion’s enfant terrible to design credit cards! Notepads do the best business for one is always needed at PR events to give to journalists. On a more strategic note, companies would do well to tie up with brands for their promotional schemes. Say, the editor of a new fashion magazine can easily rope in any company she wants for her launch party where several celebrities and socialites will be given gift baskets. Once the celebrity falls in love with the product she will definitely visit the store for more.

This is any company’s best bargaining tool. Whether it is a watch or a tyre or a shoe or a dupatta, the gifting strategy has more lanes and bylanes than the New York gridline and at the end of it all, everyone’s a winner.

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The correct wrappings for corporate gifts

corporate gift wrappingWhile it may not be the most important factor for men, everyone likes a well-wrapped gift. Women like it for the art of proper presentation and men look upon it as a sign of respect and recognition of their status. No matter what you buy, add a personal touch to it, make the packaging attractive, without going overboard. After all, this is your boss and colleagues we are talking about.

There are a variety of papers to choose in the market today, but don’t even look at the ones that have dancing teddy bears and floating hearts and candy sticks on them and avoid the bright ones that need you to wear sunglasses before you can glance at them. Go for sedate patterns like stripes and the checkerboard effect and muted colours like a deep, matte red, rust orange and pale yellow.

Use the bows, but keep them to a discreet size.

When going for more easy-going patterns, stick to polka dots, geometric designs and you can even create your own paper with the company logo for your boss.

Wrapping up gifts in boxes is infinitely better as a hard casing sub-consciously portrays a more professional approach than a soft one.

However, don’t let your creative mind despair – there are certain occasions that you can safely go jazzy for:

Colleague gets promoted: Now’s the time to go for the super-shiny stars that proclaim him to be one!

Colleague gets married: Bridal red, jhatak gold, shiny silver are the wedding colours you can unabashedly use for this occasion; go creative with your selection of wrapping patterns as well. Oh, and bring on the floating hearts as well!

Colleague is set to become a parent: Now you can go for the dancing teddy bears.

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Getting past office politics with the right gifts

Office PoliticsBosses can be tough sometimes, but those whom you directly deal with on a daily basis can be tougher. Often, impressing your boss is not as crucial as it is to stay in the good books of his right-hand man. And contrary to a popular saying, flattery will get you everywhere.

Be alert and pick up on clues to what your colleague or immediate superior(s) want. Does your colleague like to read? Buy a small, portable magazine or book rack to keep beside his chair. They’re reasonably priced, easy to deliver, and for presentation purposes tie a satin bow around the handle. Casually mention that when you saw the rack you immediately thought of his love for reading and bought it on an impulse.

Has his clock stopped working? Browse through your online options and select the most appropriate one. Always be quick to offer to exchange it for him if he mentions it’s not the right size or the right colour.

Always keep hierarchy in mind – your colleague’s gift should be smaller than that of your immediate boss, but equally special. When it comes to gifting the head honcho, discreetly find out what your superior is giving him and select something that is not ostentatiously better. At no point should your colleagues feel that you are trying to upstage them.

The rule of thumb in any organisation is being non-threatening to those who are close to your superior(s) without appearing eager-to-please; you’ll just be named an ass-licker if you do.

Gifts, when chosen thoughtfully and presented intelligently, can go a long way in securing your position in the company. Teaming a great performance with an image of being thoughtful and caring – that’s mastering office politics!

Books as gifts to build bonds of friendship

Books are best giftsMumbai’s leading publication DNA carried a special article on the art and trends of gifting. It narrates how shoppers are turning to books to fill the stockings of their near and dear ones.

The report is as follows: “Mumbai city’s venerable Strand Book Stall says Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret continues to be a bestseller. “I’ve bought The Secret for my husband this Christmas,” says newly married 29-year-old Sunita Banerjee. “We are looking at buying an apartment in the city, and I want to leave no stone unturned. If The Secret can help us, then my husband needs to read it.” It’s also a time when NRIs visit town and purchase books.

The report mentions that bestsellers and the occasional classic seem to be the choice for last-minute buyers. “Books are a personal choice. Unless you know the person well, chances are you’ll land up giving them something they already have or read,” says 39-year-old Binal Shah. “New authors are a safe bet.” One Pratik Doshi is ‘hunting’ for Nick Bantock’s The Griffin & Sabine Trilogy — a series of graphically illustrated books that tell the story of two lovers through letters and postcards.

The DNA report details about Granth’s and Crossword’s special Christmas section, with activity books and compilations like Famous Stories From The Bible. The store’s bestselling fiction list is an eclectic collection of the old and the new. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance Of Loss and The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho, all make an appearance. The non-fiction section includes Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat, Dev Anand’s Romancing With Life and Larry Bossidy’s Execution.

Those looking for something different, check out The Case For India, written in 1930 by historian Will Durant. It was banned by the British Raj and, according to Strand’s store manager, who has been quoted so in the DNA report.

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How To Personalize Your Gift!

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Gifts with something inscribed, something engraved or a scrapbook can add a personal touch.

Gifts with something inscribed

Books can indeed be a thoughtful and very special gift, but inscriptions carry them to a whole new level of intimacy. Buy your buddy a new book of fiction (need not be romantic) that she or he has been always talking about and is craving to read. It can also be his or her favorite classic, a journal, or a coffee-table book, the subject matter does matter, but your inscription does make it special.

Something engraved

An obvious gift may not be on its own such an innovative idea, but there’s an easy method to take it even the simplest and commonest of gifts into an entirely ultimate romantic orbit by engraving! By branding a cell phone, bracelet or even a simple key chain with your feelings and emotions or simply with your initials, or a memorable day, you can send the message in a subtle way.

A personal scrapbook

Don’t think that we are suggesting you simply cut & paste some pictures into a scrapbook but this is definitely the wonderful way of preserving and rekindling romantic memories. It’s rather about as near to any home-made gift and isn’t it nice narrating the story of your romance or friendship with a personal scrapbook as gift.

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