Thursday, January 31, 2008

Romance is in the cards for Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day framed keepsake

This Valentine keepsake collage was inspired by the Herman Hesse quotation: "If I know what love is, it is because of you."

We’re a country that loves to send greeting cards. At Christmas, it is estimated that Americans send out 2.6 billion cards. What’s the second largest card-sending holiday? That would be Valentine’s Day, February 14th. I’ve always wondered who St. Valentine was and why we focus on romance in the middle of February. Turns out that February has a long tradition of being associated with romance (it’s the shortest month - go figure). So it isn’t your imagination - the pressure to find not only the perfect Valentine's Day gift but also the perfect card to go with it has been going on for centuries.

Expect some crowds when you’re shopping. To avoid the rush in the greeting card aisle of your local drugstore, you might want to check out smaller shops with more exotic offerings. Cards can be found in some unexpected places. For example, the frame shop where I work on many of my collages (Frameworks in Burlington, MA) has a wonderful selection of unusual gifts and funky but elegant Valentine's Day cards.

Now consider the following scenario: You seek out the perfect card to express how you feel about your significant other (or someone you hope will become more significant). You find the card. It says exactly what you want to say. It’s perfect. You give it to your loved one, who also thinks its perfect.

Come February 15th, what happens to the card? No one wants to throw it away, but what should you do with it? Putting it into a drawer or a shoebox (with all those photos you have hanging around – but that’s another story) doesn’t feel quite right. If the sentiment is truly heartfelt and inspiring, why not showcase it in a framed keepsake collage where it can be seen and enjoyed every day? Card and gift all in one. The perfect Valentine’s Day gift. That’s a grand slam in anyone’s book.

So if you’re the card giver,consider making a big splash by presenting the card already framed and ready to hang. And if you’re the card receiver, show your admirer just how much the card means by having it framed.

Want to be even more of a hero? Create the perfect card yourself with the help of our friends at the Kodak Gallery. Use your pictures and your own words. To inspire you, they have created some special Valentine’s Day designs for cards (and other personalized gifts).

Of course, you can also have Purple Raincoat create a collage for you using a favorite saying on a card we design. For example: “To the world you’re just one person but to me you are the world.” You can specify the colors and we can work together to find the font that feels just right. Or you could use song lyrics. You could add a photo to it…the possibilities are almost endless.

Want inspiration for the perfect gift? You're sure to find it at Visit us and see why we are the experts at creating the perfect gift for any occasion.

Friday, January 25, 2008

It’s January 2008 – do you know where your Ketubah is?

My husband and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary on December 30, 2007. Everyone knows about the gifts that are “traditional” for some milestone anniversaries, such as silver for the 25th anniversary and gold for the 50th wedding anniversary. But you may not be aware that there are lists of traditional and modern gifts for nearly every wedding anniversary.

The traditional gift for the first wedding anniversary is paper, so a piece of paper-based art is a most appropriate gift. It’s a great time to frame your own wedding invitation, if you haven’t done so already. But for many couples, there is another piece of paper to frame and display as a wedding keepsake: a marriage contract.

As part of most Jewish wedding ceremonies, the husband gives his wife such a contract, known as a Ketubah. Ketubahs can be beautiful pieces of artwork - decorative statements celebrating a couple’s relationship and commitment.

The ketubah was designed as a practical document to protect a Jewish bride’s legal and financial rights in the event of their husband’s death or a divorce. But ketubahs aren’t just for Jewish weddings anymore. All kinds of couples have embraced the custom of creating a marriage celebration document or “contract”.

Ketubahs come in sizes, styles, language and price points to suit everyone – check out for some examples of what is available. These contracts may be signed as part of a wedding ceremony, when a couple renews their vows, or to mark a milestone anniversary.

In Jewish marriages, the safekeeping of the Ketubah traditionally is the bride’s responsibility. When my husband and I got married, our rabbi told me that I should always know where our ketubah is. Our wedding was arranged and held within two weeks (that’s a story for another time) and we never thought about what our Ketubah would look like – the rabbi said he would provide it. We signed it and had it witnessed and filed it away. I didn’t even really remember what it looked like; in fact, I remember thinking that I didn’t love it and wished we could have done something different.

But recently, a Purple Raincoat client asked us to create a collage based on her Ketubah as an anniversary gift for her husband (well after their first anniversary). Despite the fact that the Ketubah was in only fair condition – it was faded with many creases and ragged edges – the collage turned out to be beautiful. That got me thinking about our own Ketubah. Fortunately, I knew where it was. I used it in a collage which I gave to my husband for our anniversary. Now our framed ketubah is hanging in our bedroom and I have a whole new perspective on our Ketubah – I absolutely love it.

The ketubah is layered on violet, cream-and-gold flowered, silver, black and gold textured papers. The collage's background is the same grey parchment print as the background of the ketubah. Silver and gold ribbon, violet skeleton leaves, and gold mesh accent the design. A beautifully textured black frame completes the design.

So when you’re thinking about an anniversary gift, think about having Purple Raincoat create a beautiful showcase for your own marriage contract, if you have one. If you don’t, consider having one made for you and your significant other – it’s a great way to reaffirm your commitment and celebrate any anniversary.

Purple Raincoat is the expert at creating wonderful one-of-a-kind gifts for weddings, anniversaries, and other special occasions. See samples of our work and get inspired by visiting our portfolio.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Don't forget about your memories: Six tips for making events more memorable using photographs and keepsakes

When you’re planning a celebration of a life milestone event – a wedding, bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, first anniversary, 25th anniversary, or other special occasion – you want to do everything you can to make the event memorable and meaningful.

Everyone knows that looking at photographs is a wonderful way to bring back memories. So photographs that show the growth of a child or a relationship over time can be used to enhance your event.

Here are some ideas for using old memories when you’re making new ones:

1. Present a group of photographs on a photo board.
These can be simple – a few photographs pasted on a poster board. Or they can be more elaborate, done scrapbook-style using paper, stickers and other elements to enhance the photos and tie them together visually.
You can do this yourself or hire someone to do it for you –
yes, there are professional scrapbook artists out there, and some event planners provide this as a service.
If you’re going to make a scrapbook-style photo board, you might want to learn how to use some basic scrapbooking supplies and techniques. Check out the websites of Simple Scrapbooks magazine ( for basic ideas, and Memory Makers magazine ( for some more elaborate examples.

A sample from a scrapbook-style bat mitzvah photo board - see Tip #1

2. Go digital
Many online photo services, such as the Kodak Gallery ( or Shutterfly ( will create digital collages of your photographs. This is especially convenient if you already have uploaded your photos to one of these websites.
Digitized photos also can be turned into multimedia slideshows with music, titles, and other effects. This can be done by some online photo services, as well as by many local businesses that process digital photographs. Many software programs (such as Apple’s iLife software) are available to help you do this on your own.

3. Incorporate photographs into your favors
The range of products that can be personalized with a favorite photograph is almost unlimited – everything from mugs to playing cards to T-shirts, key rings, and puzzles. Start with the online photo services for ideas.

4. Use photographs in your table decorations
Photos can be used instead of table numbers – imagine people sitting at the “First Grade” table for a bar/bat mitzvah or a “First House” table at a wedding. A photo tree could be used to display a group of photos as part of a centerpiece.

5. Make a photograph the focal point of your sign-in board.
Sign-in boards make great keepsakes and give your guests a chance to create a unique personalized memento. Make an enlargement of a favorite photo, have it dry mounted on foam core and let your guests use it as a sign-in board. You also can buy sign-in boards that come framed and formatted to include a photo.

6. Display a keepsake collage that uses photographs
Show off a wedding photo with the original wedding invitation at a 25th anniversary party. Use a newborn photograph and a recent photograph for a milestone birthday. These collages could incorporate memorabilia from a past event; they also can be made to celebrate the current event, using the invitation from your special occasion. Purple Raincoat will be happy to create one for you.

This invitation keepsake collage was created for the couple's 20th wedding anniversary, using an original invitation and photograph from their wedding day, which we restored and reprinted.

When your event is over, be sure to preserve the memories with a personalized gift from Purple Raincoat. We're the expert in showcasing your memories. Visit to see what we can do to help celebrate your special occasion.