So what is worth the effort for both the sender and receiver? Emotion. Whether this comes in comedic or heartstring form, the holiday greeting is an open opportunity to express yourself and the culture of your studio without being judged in a business sense. It should be noted that this advice comes with the caveat of caution: too corny and the effort is prime for ridicule, while too serious or religious and you may offend those who think differently. The key to walking this line is to create something that meaningfully replicates the group dynamic of your studio. If you are a solo studio, be true to your personality. At Grip, we default to comedy as our emotion of choice. There is enough inherent stress to the holidays already and if we can provide even a minute of laughter then our job is done. We do, however, always receive a few cards that move us to consider this time of year and how we would like to assess both past and future. Those cards, while not funny, are always meaningful and appreciated.
On the execution side of things, put your holiday card brainstorm sessions on the calendar in August (if only we could follow our own advice). When it does get down to the wire, and it always seems to, be open to all ideas. I would be lying if it wasn't noted that most of our card concepts come from interns and new(ish) designers. It appears that in our case, having a fresh perspective on the culture of a place apparently allows you to make fun of it easier and self-deprication is the name of the game in these parts.
And one final note—printers, please stop with the calendars. Seriously, we throw the vast majority of them away and the guilt associated with that is totally avoidable. If half of you live up to your recent "sustainability pledges" and green-certified-whatever, you will realize the environmental impact of creating something that immediately gets disposed of—it is the antithesis of the holiday spirit. And just in case you are the one percent that creates a calendar that people love and use, I would consider it a personal gift for you to verify your recipient lists and produce accordingly. Aside from being the right thing to do, I suspect a little money can be saved. Try spending it on sponsoring a local event for designers.
So with all of this noted, what did we do? See for yourself.