Sunday, March 23, 2008

What starts at 16 and is still going strong at 99?

Tips for a long-lasting marriage

My 16-year-old daughter doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about getting married, but apparently getting married at 16 was fairly common back in the 1920s. As reported on the Today show, Mayme was only 16 when she married Clarence Vail, an “older man” of 18 on February 17, 1925.

On February 17, 2008 – after their family had grown to include six children, 39 grandchildren, 101 great-grandchildren, and 40 great-great-grandchildren – they celebrated their 83rd wedding anniversary. The record for the longest known marriage belongs to a couple from Taiwan, but the Guinness Book of World Records is conducting research to see if the Vails are the longest married couple alive in the United States.

As we approach the beginning of wedding season, it would seem to be useful to find out what we can learn from the Vail's 83 years of experience. So what are the keys to the longevity of their marriage? According to Mayme Vail, it takes “patience and humility.” She also notes, “you’ve got to admit you’re wrong now and then…I’ve had to do it.” Wise words, as anyone who has ever been married will admit.

Author Sheryl Kurland uncovered some other secrets to long-lasting marriages. For her book, “Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More,” she interviewed 75 couples who had been married at least 50 years - “real-life relationship experts”, in her words – to find out what it takes to reach that golden 50th anniversary.

Here are some of the tips Kurland passes along for surviving 50 years of family holidays. I think these ideas can be useful at any time of year:

• Never discuss sensitive subjects when you’re hungry.
• Make a list of what not to talk about at family gatherings. For example, try to avoid the word “older,” as in “Aunt Mary is older than Aunt Susan” or “For an older man, Uncle Harold has a lot of hair.”
• At family dinners, if you’ve lost weight recently, don’t mention it. In fact, wear baggy clothes to make yourself inconspicuous.
• Never roll your eyes or shush someone else’s annoying, bratty child who is running around or whining.
• Weather turbulence with laughter.
The pie crust won’t be perfect. Scale down your expectations, and focus on what’s right rather than what’s wrong.

(Sheryl P. Kurland © December 2005).

Put these tips into action and maybe someday the Guinness Book of World Records will be calling on you to discuss your anniversary. And if anyone out there from the Vail family is listening, please get in touch with me – I would love to make a keepsake anniversary gift for you to celebrate this family milestone.

Is there a milestone wedding anniversary coming in for one of your friends or family members - a 20th anniversary, 30th anniversary, 40th anniversary, 50th anniversary, or any other special number? For any anniversary, the gift that's always right is the gift of memories, and Purple Raincoat makes it so easy for you. One call does it all. We'll take care of everything, including shipping and gift wrapping. No matter what your special occasion, let Purple Raincoat create a unique and memorable gift. Give us a call so we can start creating something special just for you.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Invitation keepsakes start with great invitations, Part II: Select a dealer

(One in an occasional series of tips for creating great invitations)

In this framed wedding invitation, sky blue was selected as the accent color for this elegant cream, black and gold invitation. This particular blue color was featured on an invitation for a shower given in honor of this bride. Pearls, satin flowers, black skeleton leaves and ornate teardrop frame complete the design. See more samples of framed wedding invitation keepsakes at on the wedding/anniversary page

The variety of available invitations is astounding. There is something out there for every taste and budget. But how to find that right one? Your dealer can be your best friend when it comes to finding the right invitation. Start by using these tips to find the dealer that’s right for you:

You want a dealer who is known for great customer service.
Ask people who have hosted similar events for their recommendations – not only for good dealers, but also for dealers you should avoid. You want someone who has time to spend with you as you go through the invitation design process, will be available to answer your questions, pays attention to every detail, and can help you make decisions when you get stuck.

You want the dealer with the best selection of invitations for you, not necessarily the largest selection. Don’t assume that “more is better” and that having a larger selection of invitation books and companies is always helpful – sometimes, too many choices can be just as bad as too few choices. A local dealer may choose to carry a limited selection of books and companies, but if they know their customers that may be enough.

Other advantages of a local dealer:

• A local dealer is likely to be familiar with other people having the same kinds of events, so they can help make sure that your invitation is “original’ in your community.

• In addition, a local dealer is more likely to allow you to take invitation books home, which is a huge advantage when making your selection. It's great to be able to take your time and consult with your family - this isn't a process you want to rush.

But there are advantages to exploring invitations on the Internet. If you can’t find someone locally who can help you, there are lots of online options available. It also can be helpful to browse invitations on the Internet to get an idea of what different companies offer at various price points. Many offer the opportunity to order samples, which is important because "seeing" an invitation isn't the same as "feeling" it.

Start your online browsing at, where you’ll find invitations for all occasions from several companies, including our favorite company, Checkerboard. The website gives you the opportunity to see your invitation with your words in the font of your choice. It’s a great way to “try before you buy.”

Watch for Part III, coming soon, on getting ready to answer the questions your dealer will ask.

A framed invitation makes a wonderful keepsake for weddings, bat mitzvahs, bar mitzvahs, sweet 16s – even “grand openings”. Be sure to visit to see samples of collages designed to showcase framed keepsake collages for all occasions.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sweet Little Sixteen

Zoe's Birth Announcement

I can’t believe that 16 years ago today my daughter, Zoe, was born. My mother was born on March 8, and she was quite insistent about not having to share her birthday with her granddaughter; fortunately, Zoe cooperated by being born on March 7th. My mom would have been 96 tomorrow – I will remember her tomorrow, as I do every day.

I recall my own 16th birthday, which was celebrated with a Sweet 16 luncheon for my girlfriends at a restaurant. I know there was an invitation, but there’s no trace of it now. The menu featured a jello mold salad and chicken with a cherry sauce – that’s what passed for sophisticated food at the time. Since that time, I have learned a lot more about food, and have passed along my passion for food to Zoe. Many happy hours pass while we are cooking and baking together. I made her favorite scones as a treat for breakfast today.

Every year, we make her favorite chocolate sour cream cake for her birthday celebration. But this year’s cake will have to wait. Zoe left this morning to spend four days in Washington, DC learning how to advocate in Congress on issues of social justice. My husband and I are trying to teach Zoe that if you want change, you have to get involved and help to make that change happen. This trip will help her build the foundation for a lifetime of taking action on issues she cares about.

On this landmark birthday, it is particularly poignant to look at her birth announcement. I had it framed not long after Zoe was born, but when I began this business she requested that I “redo it”, Purple Raincoat-style. And so I did. There's no expiration date on remembering the joy of a child's arrival in the world. I think that framing a birth announcement is a wonderful gift for a milestone birthday, don’t you?

Happy birthday, Zoe. This one’s for you.

When you're looking for a unique, personalized gift, come to Purple Raincoat, where we are experts in creating one-of-a-kind keepsake gifts. Visit to see more samples of framed keepsakes made from birth announcements and collages for other special occasions.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Invitation keepsakes start with great invitations, Part I: Get Started

(One in an occasional series of tips for creating great invitations)

We are nearing the beginning of prime wedding season - May, June, July, and August - so it's time to think about wedding invitations. The most popular months for weddings to take place are, in this order:

* June
* August
* May
* July
* September
* October
* December
* November/April (tie)
* February
* March
* January

For some people, choosing the right invitation is a piece of cake – they scout online, find a dealer, look through a book or two, and make their selections. However, many people are overwhelmed when it comes to selecting, wording, and designing their invitations. I learned this first-hand during the years I spent selling invitations. For samples of my invitation design work, see the invitations framed as bar/bat keepsakes for Zoe, Dylan, Bethany, Ethan and Sarah, as well as the invitation for the small wedding collage.

Here is one of my favorite designs: a simple, elegant wedding invitation, which is distinguished by the elegant font as well as the very modern "debossed" paper. The paper gives you the look of layers without the weight or expense. For a closer look, visit

Fortunately, I found that there are some guiding principles that you can rely on to create invitations that make you happy and make a great impression on your guests. These are the invitations that people will compliment you on not only because they look great but also because they reflect who you are as well as the spirit of your event.

I’m happy to share what I have learned with you. You may think these tips go into ridiculous detail, which they do, but that is because the process of creating great invitations often involves choices where the details really matter.

It’s like building a house – if you’re starting from scratch, you are amazed at the level of detail involved – who knew that there were so many types of kitchen faucets, anyway? But you have to make those choices, so you might as well be informed before you get started.

And here is your first tip: Start Early

To make this process as stress-free as possible, start early – six months or more before your event. Some of my clients were only about three months away from their event…it can be done, but it’s not recommended. The important thing is to select the invitation itself. Deciding on the details, including the particular wording, font, color, and number to order, can be done later.

The most critical step in the whole invitation process is your approval of the proof. You have to allow time for mistakes to be made – they happen for lots of reasons, even with the best of companies. These days, invitation companies can turn an order around in days (after proof approval). Some companies let you see proofs online; some others will have to fax or email the proofs to you, which takes longer. So it is important to build in a “cushion” of time to reduce the stress on you (and on the dealer). So if you're planning a June wedding, I hope you are well along into the invitation ordering process.

Similarly, it is important to begin developing your guest list, with up-to-date addresses, as early as possible. This will help to ensure that you make the right decision about the number of invitations you need when you actually place your order.

Ready to get started? Take a look at the selection available through eInvite.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon, with tips on selecting and ordering your invitations.

(Can't wait? Email me: for the complete Purple Raincoat Guide to Creating Great Invitations.)

Once you've created that great invitation, be sure you preserve it with a Purple Raincoat collage. It's a great gift, so when someone asks, "what can we get for the bride and groom that is unique," you've got the answer. Just send them to the Purple Raincoat website and we will create something beautiful for you.