Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Celebrating a 60th? Plant a tree for free

According to Wikipedia, the number 60 – the “natural” number between 59 and 61 – is “semiperfect”* and “highly composite”**. Sound like anyone you know who may have been born in 1948 and is celebrating a 60th birthday?

Even if "60 is the new 40," turning 60 can be tough for some people, particularly if well-meaning friends shower them with “over the hill” themed gifts. I’m not sure where the hill starts, but I don’t see any reason why you can’t keep going up at 60, 70, 80, or more. My husband and I went to see a Tony Bennett concert the other day. Tony is celebrating 60 years of “connecting to people everywhere through the magic of his music,” according to his official website. He may be 82 years old, but you’d never know it by listening to him. He played a solid 90 minutes and thrilled the 10,000 people in the audience with his wonderful performance.

Israel is also celebrating its 60th anniversary. In honor of this occasion, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) will plant a tree in honor of anyone who is 60 years old or has been married for at least 60 years. (Mayme and Clarence Vail, are you listening?) There is no charge – it’s absolutely free.

Visit the JNF website for your free tree

What’s so great about planting a tree in Israel?
From the JNF website: “Over the past century, the JNF family has planted over 240 million trees, built over 180 dams and reservoirs, developed over 250,000 acres of land, created more than 1,000 parks throughout Israel and educated students around the world about Israel and the environment. Through the support of donors around the world, the JNF family was able to ensure that Israel was the only nation in the world to end the 20th century with more trees than it had at the beginning.”

With Earth Day just past, a lot of us are thinking about what we can do to help protect our environment. So this is perfect: The earth needs trees. JNF will plant one for free. You feel great about something really cool in honor of a 60th birthday (or anniversary). The recipient is happy to get something that’s not another “you know you’re 60 when…” gift. Everybody wins.

And the JNF will send out a beautiful personalized commemorative certificate, which Purple Raincoat will be happy to turn into a framed keepsake that would help anyone feel great about celebrating this milestone. Visit Purple Raincoat to see our newest examples of unique special event framed keepsakes and anniversary keepsakes that make perfect gifts for life's special celebrations.

*semiperfect (10 times a perfect number)
**highly composite (has 11 different divisors).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Can a font make you lose your appetite?

A cautionary tale about menus (and invitations)

I believe that “fonts have feelings” – their emotional impact can drive you to make choices on a level that you may not even be aware of. In my February 4 post, I talked about an article analyzing the potential impact of fonts on how voters make their choices for presidential candidates. Well, that article was correct in its prediction that John McCain would be the Republican nominee. Time will tell if the article was right about Barack Obama winning the Democratic nomination.

A few days ago, a Boston Globe restaurant review started by wondering why so few of the people who looked at the posted menu actually came into the restaurant. Here is an excerpt from the review by James Reed (March 29, 2008) – I’m hiding the name of the restaurant (they’ve got enough problems):

“Twenty-seven. That's an awful lot of people we watched as they considered dinner at (the restaurant) and then quickly moved on down the street. It was a recent Saturday night, during the prime dinner hours between 7 and 9 p.m., and one by one, would-be diners lingered over the menu posted outside and kept walking…Eventually, though, we figured out why people kept strolling by. Let's start with the typography on the restaurant's sign. It sounds silly, even ridiculous, I know, but (the restaurant) suffers from what one of us keenly described as "hair-salon font." It's true: The slanted, curly-cue script, which extends to the menu, makes it hard to decipher even a simple word like "agnolotti." © Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

The evening that the review was published, I started reading Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan by Paula Marantz Cohen. My husband’s sisters, Ellen and Laura, recommended this book to me as “light reading.” They never mentioned what the book was about, so it was much to my surprise that I discovered it began with Carla, the main character, fighting with her daughter, Stephanie, about selecting an invitation for Stephanie’s upcoming bat mitzvah.

Carla was unprepared for the confrontation. From Chapter One: “Carla hadn’t thought that picking out an invitation would be so complicated. After all, how hard could it be to choose a good paper stock with a colored border and some curly type?”

Sounds as if Carla was talking about the same kind of “hair salon” font that the restaurant chose for its menu. I think the reviewer was right – in addition to being hard to read, the "curly-cue" font sends the wrong message about the restaurant’s personality.

The first moral of this story? Pay attention to the message you’re trying to communicate when you select a font for anything. The same font that works for a bat mitzvah invitation may not work so well on an upscale Italian restaurant menu.

The second moral? Be prepared for the amount of emotion that gets invested in the invitation selection process. Again, from Chapter One of Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan: "The many trivial, hard-to-differentiate variables involved in picking out a bat mitzvah invitation were just the sort of thing liable to cause a meltdown." All the more reason to showcase the "winning" bar/bat mitzvah invitation with a framed Purple Raincoat collage - a great gift for the bar mitzvah boy or bat mitzvah girl as well as a wonderful keepsake for the parents. To get ready, you may want to start checking out the wide selection of invitations available online - eInvite, Purple Raincoat's online invitation partner, is a great place to begin.

The third moral? Get your hands on a copy of this book if you’re anywhere near the bar/bat mitzvah years. The story of how bar/bat mitzvah planning can take on a life of its own will resonate with you and make you smile – sometimes with laughter, sometimes in painful recognition of your own experience. I’m not done with the book, but in addition to choosing an invitation it has already covered the joys of building the guest list, selecting a caterer, developing a menu, hiring entertainment, and designing centerpieces – all done within the context of a community where “keeping up with the Joneses” can drive a family way over its budget. The book is a selection of the Hadassah Book Club, and includes a reading group guide. This would be a fun one to discuss over coffee – or better yet, a glass of wine. Happy reading!