Thursday, December 27, 2007

The LOUIE Awards

Do you know the LOUIEs? Each year, during the National Stationery Show, The Greeting Card Association (GCA) honors the creative members of the industry with its LOUIE Awards program. Last year, there were winners in 57 categories!

I get asked a lot about the program. The most important thing to know today is this:
If you want to enter, do it NOW! The deadline is upon us – this coming Thursday, January 3rd, to be exact! Of course, you must be a greeting card, invitation or imprintable publisher in order to enter the competition. However, you do not need to be a GCA member to enter. All entries must have been marketed and sold in the United States during the calendar year 2007 (between January 1 and December 31). Click here for more information on the entry eligibility and the competition entry form.

If you enter, your product will be judged by industry peers, and if you win, you will receive a crystal award, as well as the excitement of having your own design chosen as best in its class!

Behind the scenes of the LOUIES goes a lot of volunteer work! Each year, a LOUIE Award chairperson is named from within the membership of the GCA. That wonderful person is charged with giving a lot of his or her time to making the entire Awards program a great one, start to finish. This includes reviewing categories for submission – and sometimes creating new ones. Newer categories of note include “Rising Star” which was added last year (this is only for companies that have been in operation for 2 years or less) and “Superbly Stated” which is in recognition of editorial copy – greeting cards with original composition.

This year’s LOUIE chair is Fern Gimbelman, of Designer Greetings. Fern (a LOUIE winner herself) came up with a great theme for the 20th Annual LOUIE Awards – “Cirque du LOUIE XX.” Check out this really cool call for entries.

It came in a gold envelope, and the LOUIE Award logo’s star was die-cut so that the color of the insert shone through!

Here it is with the insert pulled out. I love how the tumbling man turns into a star. I can’t wait to see the invitation and the program book for the Awards. I also can’t wait for the event itself (on Monday, May 19). With this theme, it’s sure to be fun!

The Judging for the LOUIEs is to take place in Washington, DC on Thursday, January 24 and Friday, January 25. Judges are all volunteers from within the industry. Of course, the company names of the entrants are withheld at the time of judging, so that all judging is fair and unbiased. The judges always say that even though there’s a lot of work involved (so much to review!), they have a lot of fun.

You should know that the LOUIEs might not get off the ground each year without the really behind the scenes work of one Mila Albertson. Mila works at the Greeting Card Association, and is sometimes an unsung hero! Mila receives every submission to the awards and is charged with keeping everything straight and creating the presentation to the judges. It’s tons of categorizing with files and boxes – yes, work! But she does it with a smile and her characteristic laugh, and you know she enjoys the whole process. Mila does even more for the actual event, too, but I’ll save those details for sometime after the Awards night!

Finally, in case you didn’t know - the LOUIE is named in honor of the recognized father of the American greeting card, Louis Prang.

I was going to write about something else this week, but when I realized that you might like to know that you could still enter the LOUIEs, I simply had to blog about it!

Happy New Year!!! See you in 2008.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Cards We've Received

Now that you know which cards we sent, it’s time to tell you which cards we have received! We hope you have enjoyed our month of holiday blogs and are anxious to hear our stories and insights as we enter 2008 and get closer to Show time! We would also love to see YOUR favorite Holiday cards. Leave us a comment or 2!

**The NSS Girls wish you and your families a wonderful holiday**------------------------------------------

I have received many elegant, stirring, beautiful, complex-designed, funny, provocative, thoughtful, celebratory, kitsch, sarcastic and warm n' fuzzy holiday greetings over the years. My favorites tend to be those that are simple, reflective, and beautiful in the hand of the paper and in the design. The message in this Encore Studios card moved me greatly; the inside says "and shine it on the world." It touched a lot of the elements that speak to me, but also treated the message of Peace -- something that is always integral to my personal greetings -- in a remarkable juxtaposition. I don't mean to sound so lofty, because I am as humble as they come. But, it accomplished both the universal message of Peace while expressing the hope that in my soul, I find a peaceful place and share it with others.



This fun card is from Design Design. There’s lots of reasons I show it here. I love the glitter, and the green circle behind the Christmas tree, along with the red & white peppermint candies. The card flips up, and the message inside says “Wishing you sweet greetings this holiday season.” The message, of course, is related to the candy design on the front. And, the sender, who happens to work at Design Design (Tom Vituj, he’s a creative director there) probably thinks I’m sweet, too. The best part about receiving this card is, in fact, that it is from Tom, and that I think he’s sweet too! Aren’t I a sap? Seriously, though, I can hear Tom when I read this card, and I can picture him, too. I love that a greeting card can conjure up a nice memory of a friend. I hope you send and receive lots of holiday cards this season to stay connected to friends. I also wish you a very happy, healthy holiday season! Don’t eat too much candy!
- Kelly

I receive many cards during the holiday season but my favorites to receive are photo cards of friends with their children or family. I've received two so far this year- one from the Robinson Family (Lori Robinson) and the other from my good friends for more than 20 years, Norma & Mike Vazquez. But since I couldn’t pick between those two and I misplaced another of my favorite cards - a die cut snowflake from my realtor Aggie - I chose to show you a card I received from Jessica Lane (a former GLMer- mnemonic for a GLM employee). I love how the glitter on this American Greetings card adds that Christmas feeling to the ornaments on the tree. Nothing says Christmas like the colors silver, red and green!

Wishing you a happy holiday – see you in 2008!

When I think of what Christmas means to me, the first thing that comes to mind is my family. Spending the holidays with them is the most special gift of all. We all lead very hectic lives and sometimes we do not take a moment out of our busy day to call a family member just to say "I Love You" and thanks for being such a big part of my life. Unlike friends who come in and out of our lives, family is such a constant and you can always count on them to love and support you no matter what. When I look at this special Christmas card, by Paper Magic Group, it reminds me of a family of trees. They were made to look exactly the same, yet each one is so different and unique like my brother, my sister and me. I wish for many things at Christmas, but the one thing that I am so very thankful for is my family.
- Rosanne

One thing I’m learning this season is that Christmas card receiving has a lot to do with age. A lot of people in my age group are too old to be filling out Christmas cards and handing them out, but too young to have a mailing list & special stamps. So, I have received a few photo cards (as Arque mentioned as well) and a few cards from my older relatives. The card I chose to show you I received from my parents. Paper Magic Group created this simple but warm Christmas card. To me, it represents all of the joys of the holiday season – bright colors, decorating the tree, innocence, love, friendship and of course, presents! So as I scramble to finish my shopping and the mall parking lot continues to drive me insane, it’s nice to look at this card and think about all the reasons I love Christmas.

Merry Christmas & have a great New Year's!


Friday, December 14, 2007

Nature’s Inspiration

Every year, thousands of people sing the song “White Christmas” and unfortunately (in my opinion), many never experience a true white Christmas. This year however, the NSS girls will NOT be in that group of unfortunate people! I predict a very white December in the New York area. The icy, snowy weather that clobbered the Midwest early this week picked up steam and hit us hard. Yesterday’s storm was a doozy. In anticipation, town and city services were on alert, schools were delayed or closed. Yet we had 100% attendance at the office – and many of us packed our shovels and boots just in case our front doors were snowed shut!

I don’t know about you, but extreme winter weather sparks my creativity. There is nothing like the true beauty of freshly fallen snow on the trees or the way the moon hits the snow at night. Or, how about the clear icicles hanging from the roof of a house?

So many holiday card images stem from things we see in nature every day. And, whether your winter image is a sandy beach, terracotta mountains, green pastures, flowers bursting alive across a valley or chimneys exhaling smoke from the fireplace below, I hope when you look out the window, you are equally inspired by nature’s beauty.

Leaving soon for GLM’s annual holiday celebration, so once again, enjoy the season!


Thursday, December 6, 2007

‘Tis the Season to Send Greeting Cards

As Kelly pointed out last week, greeting cards often reflect the personality of the person sending them. To demonstrate this point, the NSS Girls present to you a showcase of our personalities, through cards. We would love to hear what you’ve discovered about yourself when shopping this holiday season. Enjoy!

Our Show Manager will lead us off…

The holidays began early for me this year – tonight is the 3rd night of Chanukah and my family is in the throws of candle lighting, dreidel playing, latke making and, of course, gift giving. We love the tradition of this holiday, but what’s even more fun is sharing our traditions outside our own throughout the season – craft making, decorating Christmas trees, cooking for the less fortunate and so forth.

So, when it comes to selecting my holiday card, I focus on the message first. The message of peace is one we have embraced every year for as long as I can remember. And, this Caspari “Peace on Earth” card also depicts the world surrounded by animals -- my kids’ passion beautifully conveyed surrounding the planet earth. The message framed by the magnificent art speaks to who we are as a family and what we want to express in our holiday sentiment.

Then there is the Happy New Year greeting in silk-screened, glorious colors produced by Great Arrow Graphics. These cards have the most magnificent hand and are wildly happy! Everyone knows that I am guilty of perpetually smiling, “the happy girl,” as I’m called, so these boxes of New Year greetings fit my bill perfectly. Why a New Year’s Card? Well, I often have a list as long as an aisle of the National Stationery Show, and it is a rarity that I would complete the task of card inscribing, addressing and stamping by Christmas. Forget rarity. It won’t happen. I am a believer that sending the greeting over the span of the holidays is perfectly fine, and New Year’s greetings are universally “safe” because everyone celebrates the turn of the calendar. These classic Great Arrow square cards won’t cost additional postage, either. Why? Because Alan Friedman and the team at Great Arrow found a work-around by providing a standard envelope to house the card within. (I am confident that the postal service will catch up with the technology to automate the handling of square cards sooner rather than later).

In the next week, I am going to sit down with my girls and husband and get crackin’ on the preparation of the cards. I know we’ll have to negotiate between soccer, homework and time hanging out with friends to get the job done, but we have more than a month to do it! Cheers, best and Peace this season.

- Patti

This year, I am not sending the same card to every person on my list. I’m trying to match the card to the recipient. That means lots of shopping fun! I picked up this hilarious Anne Taintor card last weekend at a new store called Sundrees (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) on Main Street in Trumansburg, NY. Normally, I would have chosen this card for my friend Susan, but it was she who was accompanying me on this little trip. (She lives in T’burg, about 4 hours from here). She and her husband would have gotten the humor of this one. But since she’s seen it now, I will send this to Stacey, my friend since high school, and her husband Scott. I am thinking that the photo is somehow from the movie Miracle on 34th Street. At least it looks that way. It just cracks me up, because who doesn’t know the old song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?” The words here have turned Santa into a pretty scary guy to this little boy. A little “Sopranos-ish,” don’t you think? Inside the card is funnier still – it says “Peace Love Understanding.” This is funny twice over for me, once for the obvious play on the cover with Santa saying “understand?” and second, because it is also a musical reference (Anne Taintor, did you mean to do this? Very clever!) I’m thinking of Elvis Costello and that song “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding” – it works! Stacey’s husband is a music industry guy, so he’ll get this part, and Stacey herself has a great sense of humor. She will love this card for the front all on its own. That’s the great thing about Anne’s cards, the front totally sells it, and the inside is like a one-two punch. Not all my cards will be humorous ones this year; in fact most of them are not. For this blog, though, I thought I’d share this one with you. However you celebrate the holiday season, I wish you peace, love and understanding!!!

- Kelly

My 2008 holiday cards are from Carole Joy Creations. When choosing holiday cards, I like cards that reflect my ethnicity and the words have to reflect what I would say if I wrote the cards myself. I chose two cards this year- one for my family and one for my friends that express these sentiments perfectly. Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

- Arque

Hallmark created this peaceful and tranquil Christmas card which to me clearly expresses the song “There's No Place like Home for the Holidays". The scene, which reflects a winter wonderland, reminds me of the many holidays that my family and I celebrated in our beautifully decorated home, sitting by the fire, drinking eggnog, and my favorite part, opening presents. I am not particularly fond of snow, but I always dream of a "White Christmas."

May your holidays be filled with warmth, affection, laughter, and wonderful memories that help make your home such a wonderful one.

- Rosanne

When picking out Christmas cards this year I was torn between 2 styles. The one you see here from Sunrise Greetings and a cute box of Curious George cards. In the end, my love for monkeys and cartoons took a backseat to my love for a warm message. Love is such a simple but important message that many people forget about in the busyness of the season. No matter your race, religion, gender or class, this holiday season, we can all give the gift of love to strangers, family and friends alike. This month my goal is to hold a few more doors open for those carrying bags, thank a few more people for the services they provide and give a few more hugs & kisses to the ones that I love. So I bought this card for my husband Chris. For all of the love he shows me every day.

Happy Holidays everyone ~ I hope your month is filled with laughter, love & blessings

- Jess

Don't forget to tell us YOUR holiday card stories! We love to hear from you.