Sutton, MA. Designers at Vaillancourt Folk Art in Sutton are helping area corporations create unique and exciting holiday gifts that are coveted by their recipients and that leave smiles on the faces of those who give them away as well.

Finding the perfect gift to convey “Happy Holidays” to a company’s important customers and friends can be an arduous process. Hours spent searching catalogs for just the right gift that also fits the budget and getting approvals moved through the corporate hierarchy often leaves staff with headaches. At the end of the day, the gift still looks and feels less than special.

Several area companies have found a way to change that experience and they find that the process can be an enjoyable one, too.

Executives at IBA Inc. in Millbury, MA were among the first to see the potential of replacing a typical catalog generated corporate gift with one that would send a unique message to their distributors across the country. The dairy farm supply company partnered with Vaillancourt nearly a dozen years ago and started out with the signature Santa figures. Later they chose a snowman and now they are open to more creative options. “This year we decided on a tree with a calf underneath it,” Judi Taft, administrative assistant to IBA’s president said. “But every year we have a star on the figure and nothing with our name on it. For us it is a gift to our distributors and they tell us how much they look forward to what they are going to receive each year. Today we have collectors in 48 states.

The Legacy Publishing Group of Clinton, MA takes a slightly different approach. The gift company with over 100 designs and 25 products works with over two dozen artists from around the country to create their licensed products. To acknowledge those talents at the holidays, Legacy works with Vaillancourt to choose a figure that is then hand painted and finished especially for them. This year the Legacy santa has the company’s logo on the back of his coat. “We wanted to give something special to the artists we work with,” Mary Pat Heelan, the company’s marketing director explained. “It has grown into a really big deal with our artists who look forward to receiving their ‘Legacy Santa’ – handmade and numbered — each year.”

Both Taft and Heelan agreed that Vaillancourt’s make choosing and delivering their corporate gifts an enjoyable process. Collaboration with designer Judi Vaillancourt starts early but both say they are always thrilled with the outcome. “I look forward to this every year,” Heelan said. “It’s easy and joyful from start to finish. All we have to do is address the card because all the pieces are hand finished and packaged for us.”

“I like the personalization of the process and the collaboration we work through,” Taft added. “We have built a wonderful relationship over the years, but it’s also become important to us to support another local business and that’s what also makes working with the Vaillancourts special to us.”

The potential of this product line has prompted designers Judi and Luke Vaillancourt to create the “Vaillancourt Design Group” within the family owned company. They also work with banks and credit unions, asset management companies and colleges to create one-of-a-kind gifts for the holidays or for special events. “We are happy to work with companies to design a special creation that reflects their corporate values and working with us also lets them proudly say that their gift is made in America, too,” Gary Vaillancourt, the company’s president added.