General gift market magazines use the term “message gifts” to describe product that features words as a principle component. Because gifting is personal, message gifts offer well-worded thoughts that are meaningful to the purchaser to be given as a message to the receiver. A design may attract a customer’s eye, but it is the message that brings in the sale.

Sherry Morris

Message gifts are the memes of the gift industry. They blend a visual story with typography to create a blink of inspiration, humor, or whimsy. In a world of negativity, message gifts accentuate the positive. In both familiar and new media, Spring 2017 promises an explosion of message gifts. As a result, retailers may want to consider the potential social media content these message gifts often convey.


Use Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to connect with people visually. Message gifts provide content for social media because they succinctly say something to catch the eye, offering a visual that people can connect with and remember.

From funny to insightful, message gifts make easy posts. Take a photo of them on a phone, copy them from the manufacturer’s website, or ask for images from the manufacturer. Share product images as positive words for each day. In the process, the store becomes known for both the message shared and product that carries the message.

At the top of the post, add an appropriate comment and/or hashtag that supports the message theme and a link to the store website, if applicable.


Create in-store settings to encourage rather than discourage viewing. Boutique specialty stores can do a better job of this than big-box establishments. A recent walk through a big chain store drove this point home. Island after island held multiple messaged gifts all competing for the eye. By avoiding the chaos factor, a Christian retail store can set itself apart through a more thoughtful approach to merchandising.

To effectively merchandise message gifts, avoid too many groups of wordy products together. If several items are in the same style but feature different messages, a best practice is to place them into groups of three, five, or seven so that the eye can process a few at a time. If there is more than one size of message gifts, choose one to act as a focal point in a display. Surround the focal point with other items similar in color and/or theme but not the same size or prominence. Or use the message gift in a display that doesn’t feature other worded gifts, such as jewelry. To display these gifts to their best advantage on slat wall, segment sections into visual units as described above and/or use shelves to break up vignettes.


Another fun idea might be to create a post inspired wall area as a way to let customers know about the store’s Facebook page. Create some simple signage to mimic the look of a post. Feature Facebook product posts in the post-inspired wall area. Offer customers a coupon on their next visit for “liking” the store’s Facebook page while they are in the store.

Sponsor a store social media day. Create a staging area for shooting and posting and giving coupons. Invite customers to post store products that are meaningful to them. Those who do can receive a store coupon for a discount off the product shared.

Message gifts can be functional, whimsical, spiritual, decorative, and/or just plain silly. They offer customers a way to say something special to family, friends, or just add a little sparkle to everyday living. Online or in-store, message gifts have the content needed to offer the power of positive words.