Tis' the season to be jolly, especially for suppliers of corporate gifts, who are having one of their best festive seasons in years.

The improving economy seems to be opening wallets across the business sphere with firms eager to reward clients with gifts that stand out, although calendars and diaries are still popular.

Suppliers The Straits Times spoke to say they are picking up new customers and hiring more staff to handle the demand.

Home and beauty firm Crabtree & Evelyn expects corporate gift sales to be 25 per cent higher than last year's.

The firm's corporate sales executive, Ms Krystie Mon, said: "Our customers are seeing more clients on their end, so they're increasing the number of gifts they're ordering from us."

Regular clients like Hong Leong, Maybank and Golden Village have increased their orders, helping to drive growth this year.

Ms Mon said Crabtree & Evelyn has also drawn new customers as more companies choose premium products for corporate gifts.

Another major company, Noel Gifts, hopes revenue will increase by 3 per cent during this festive season.

Advertising and promotions manager Jess Chan said: "The good economy has created a good impact on gift giving. We see some encouraging signs and hope it will continue on to Chinese New Year."

It is not just the big players who are seeing better sales. Smaller firms are moving more of their products off the shelves as well.

The Gift & Paper Company's senior sales executive, Ms Terry Val, said orders have grown by between 40 per cent and 50 per cent this year compared with last year.

Ms Val added that the average price range for a corporate gift is $5 to $20 this year, roughly in line with the budget set aside last year.

Scube Gift co-founder Kenneth Li estimates that sales will be 20 per cent better this year over last year, and has hired more people to meet the higher demand.

"I'm optimistic that next year will see growth too because the overall economy is recovering. When that happens, companies and people will spend more so I expect the promotional budget to increase by at least 5 per cent," he added.

But JMD Pacific has seen a 15 per cent fall in sales compared with last year. Up to 55 per cent of its corporate clients are small- and medium-sized enterprises such as event companies, which have turned more cautious with their promotional budgets due to increased labour and rental costs.

"These companies are not spending as much compared with last year, when there was still some budget for corporate gifts, so it's not very encouraging this year," said JMD assistant sales manager Nico Arm.

However, its clients in the public sector have not cut their budgets for corporate gifts, which has helped to offset the decline.

One challenge for suppliers is the relatively short gap between Christmas and Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan 31 and Feb 1.

Customers may combine their purchases, noted Noel Gifts' Ms Chan. "For instance, instead of purchasing twice for Christmas and Chinese New Year separately, customers may choose to either send their recipients Christmas gifts or Chinese New Year gifts only," she said.

Apart from festive goodies like food hampers, digital gadgets are becoming increasingly popular as gifts.

Scube Gift's Mr Li noted that companies "want something more unique".

The latest craze in town is for the power bank, which can recharge gadgets like smartphones.

Mr Arm said: "This is the No. 1 corporate gift this year because a smartphone's battery life is not that long and people need to be on the go all the time, so companies are ordering this as a gift."

That means the thumb drive, which has been a popular corporate gift in recent times, has not been as hot a present this year.

Despite the march towards digital gadgets, the perennial staples in the corporate gifting world - diaries, planners and calendars - have not fallen out of favour.

Suppliers said that the more traditional companies still believe in such products, which can easily carry their promotional images and messages, helping to reinforce their brand with their customers.