December 19, 2013 - No Comments!

A Vague Christmas Card

For those of you who don't know me personally, I love Christmas. So. Much. So this job was obviously a dream come true. But like all great dreams they are ruined when printers are involved. I shall now tell the tale of how this card came to be. During my last day at 160over90 my boss asked me to come into his office. He said he had a job for me, something that I might enjoy. I said, "PROCEED PLZ..." He said it's a family Christmas card for a friend of mine, but this is no "regular" Christmas card and then he showed me cards from Christmases past. They ranged from beautiful die-cut pop outs of the Philadelphia skyline to scenarios in which Mary & Joseph were on twitter/facebook saying things like "OMG I'm pregnant". So obviously this guy had a great sense of humor and class. So I took the job, And a few days later Chara and I met up with Mr. Vague (yes, that is his real name) to discuss concepts. We came up with about 15 different ideas. The best involved a "How to catch Santa Claus Kit" (Which included ex lax to put into his cookies.) Anyway, we landed on this advent calendar idea, it was something that could be really beautiful/classy but could still be fun for people of all ages. Who doesn't like opening small illustrated doors?




It works like a normal advent calendar but instead of it just opening and having nothing to do with anything, we made it a holiday quiz. Behind every door there is an illustration, phrase, or photograph that hints as to what movies/songs/holiday traditions we were trying to convey like in the photo above if you ever paid attention to the musical White Christmas The Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, VT is the Inn where most of the musical takes place. So each door has a little hint to it to help you try your best to guess what it is. We thought this would be a really great opportunity for families to sit together and try to guess these things and if they couldn't get it maybe they would spend some time together watching a christmas movie or listening to a song to try to figure it out. (All the answers are on a CD sleeve that came with the card, we'll get to that later.)

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At the same time this is a Christmas card that Mr. Vague and his family send out to all their friends and family, so we wanted to include photos of them in here as well. How did we do that you say? We dressed them up like Elvis and wise men, that's how. So for some of the doors we used photos of the kids in the past, directly below we have a photo of his daughter missing her tooth tying to the song "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth". But we wanted to get a little more creative with it for some of the other doors, so we set up a photo shoot. We brought wise men costumes (with gifts wrapped happy birthday wrapping paper ((For Baby Jesus Obviously))), an Elvis costume, a Tiny Tim costume, some Nightmare Before Christmas ghoul costumes, and some suits with tails for good measure. Chara shot all these hilarious photos and they came out amazingly, Mr. Vague's family was so into it and we couldn't have made such an awesome card without their willingness to throw all cares out the window and dress up as Elvis with the deepest V-Neck of all time.


For some of the doors I had to dust off some of the good ol' photoshopping skills to get the job done. Mr. Vague really likes LOVES the idea of photoshopping people on to things. So behind some of the doors you'll find his some family members crudely photoshopped where Bill Murray once was.

Another huge part of this project was that a holiday CD needed to be included, I know you're thinking...CD? What in the heck is a CD?! Yes, we sent a real life CD out that had a bunch of Christmas songs on it including a few sung by his daughter. This CD slip cover acted as a prime location to put the answers to the holiday quiz. On the back side of the CD you'd find the list of songs as well as the answer key so if a door really stumped you, you could just cheat and look at all the answers at once. Like I said earlier we really wanted this to be a reminder to sit and spend some time doing silly/fun/meaningful stuff with your family this holiday season.


The card ended up being 11 x 17 so we got the awesome opportunity to make custom envelopes. I feel like ever since I started designing I always wanted to make a custom envelope with the stripes on the side. I CAN NOW CHECK THAT OFF THE BUCKET LIST. Printing this was a nightmare and I don't even want to talk about it in the blog post because it would just put me in a really dark place and I'm too good for that. All I have to say is that Chara is an angel and I wouldn't have been able to do it without her patience.


Published by: Mike Smith in Design, Philadelphia

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