Top 5 "Thank You" Gifts for Clients and Collaborators
By Karen Ng-Hem RGD, Creative Director, KAREN NG-HEM INC.
I’m passionate about designing cards. It was the only way I knew how to promote myself before social media. It provided a medium to connect with people.
Saying "thank you" has always been my favourite part of a project. It is a way to celebrate a job well done, acknowledge teamwork and express gratitude to both colleagues and clients. 
Here are 5 unique ways I have used design to say “Thank You”:
Moose Droppings 
Moose Jaw was a proposal that raised the bar and set a precedent. We spent time in workshops to develop a vision and inspired lifecycle concept for building a new hospital in Moose Jaw, SK. It took our whole team, including writers, architects, illustrators, creative services and print production team to help take it across the finish line. Continuing the creative direction of the proposal, I filled mason jars with chocolate covered “moose droppings”—dark chocolate raisins/cranberries and milk chocolate caramel/whoppers, as a thank you to everyone for their contributions. 
I was leaving an architectural firm to become the Creative Director at our print supplier, which meant my former employer would now become my ‘client’, and I would go from customer to coworker. To mark this shift, I made each person a card with their name spelled out in architectural photography and hand wrote a personal memory I had from working with them. Yadira, the receptionist was also moving on and later emailed me: “The last card you gave me, I have it on display on my new desk wall :) I am fascinated by those pics! I appreciate that you took the time to do something for me.” 
“IKEA” Renovation Postcards
Off the clock, I designed thank you cards for co-workers who helped assemble IKEA furniture for a renovation…(and the one who didn’t!) during a Labour Day weekend. Using diagrams from the furniture instructions, I enlarged and personalized their names to look like Ikea product names. The cards were paired with a chocolate bar wrapped in kraft paper, tied with yellow + blue raphia to emulate IKEA’s brand and packaging.
“Indexagram” Greeting Cards
Canadian architect Omar Gandhi and I worked together at our first architecture firm (Young + Wright Architects Inc.) in Toronto. He then went on to establish his OG brand in Halifax, NS. Early during his start-up, I selected 24 of my favourite photos from his Instagram feed, designed a ‘visual index’ cover, printed individually folded notecards on felt textured stock, echoing his minimal aesthetic. This was a personal collection of greeting cards intended for Omar to write a personal note to a friend, client or colleague when the occasion called for it. The recipient, not only received something personal; but one of his inspiring works of architecture. 
Team Building Keepsakes
Birds of a feather flock together! I was a consultant at an offsite team-building conference and was inspired when I heard the President introduce the concept of flying geese and how they exemplify teamwork. I purchased geese pins from The Drake General Store, repackaged with plantable paper, a folded tab in the client’s brand colours and stamped one of four motivations: HONK, SOAR, RISE, FLY!
Do you know why geese fly in a V-formation? When the one in front gets tired, the two behind can assume its place. If one bird goes down to rest, two go down with it so that it is not alone. When they are ready to fly again they can form their own V until they join another flock. And the ones in the back? They honk to encourage the ones in the front! 
Other "Thank You" Ideas:
Karen Ng-Hem RGD is a creative director and idea generator based in Toronto, ON, who designs a diverse range of print x digital publications with a focus on social good design. For 20 years she has developed a reputation in the AEC and non-profit sectors for creating compelling visual stories. Recognized for her sophisticated use of colour, spatial clarity and clean lines— her intuitive and multi-disciplinary approach to design consistently result in clear ideas that compel people to think, feel and act. Karen is an advocate of professional accreditation, has served as a Judge for the Entro Award for Placemaking Design Student Awards, is an ongoing portfolio reviewer and past Member of the RGD Membership Committee.