A Merry Christmas Competition

Last week our company essentially took recess on Friday morning in honor of the 1st Annual Christmas Decorating Contest. UX became it’s own department separate from (but embedded in) the Tech team  this past summer, so the friendly rivalry was running strong between us leading up to this.

After some discussion over what we might choose to do for our area, we chose to focus on fun and food. Part of this was obvious – cookies, Mexican hot cocoa, gift bags with more cookies and some wonderfully tasty homemade whipped cream.

the UX department all done up

But  this is a decorating contest, right? How do you incorporate food into holiday decor? Food themed snowflakes and cinnamon ornaments, of course.

another view of the UX department decor

a close up of a storage cabinet with snowflakes and ornaments

sign saying 'Merry Christmas'

The ornaments did cause a bit of confusion. You might think the beads would be enough to get that they weren’t cookies, but we decided to take the safe side of things.

cinnamon ornaments in star shapes

Caitlin made up a Christmas tree design for us while I turned a hand at snowflake cutting.

Christmas tree image

Our tree was a bit different than the ones found just across the cubicle in the Tech department. One of their was made of post-it notes (they chose a theme of office supplies).

Christmas tree made of post it notes

Their crowning glory, though ,was the Mountain Dew/ginger ale tree.

'tree' made of Mountian Dew cans with a 'binary' tree in the background

It was pretty amusing and very definitely a reflection of them.

We in UX could not just leave it at food and decor, though. We’re interactive people – the User Experience department. So Caitlin took it a step further with some Christmas trivia for the judges followed by a bit of Christmas Mad Libs.

Image of this text - Rudolph the gargantuan-nosed mamot had a very runny nose and if you ever wiped it, you would even say it flows. All of the other marmots used to belch and call him snot-nose. They never let silly Rudolph running in any incredible games.

A marmot, for those who may be unfamiliar, is a large rodent like a groundhog or squirrel. We have one for a mascot – Ce Marmot. New Business kidnapped him for the judging.

Ce Marmot, our stuffed animal marmot, in a Santa hat

We closed out our time with the judges with an impromptu rendition of ‘Rudolph the Gargantuan-Nosed Reindeer’ at the request of our president.

So, how did we fare?

We didn’t win the overall prize – that went to the Jedis over Customer Service (they did a lovely job) BUT we won ‘Most Fun’.

The devs? They got ‘Most Original’, which worked out well for all. Here are a couple of other photos from their area.

Christmas lights augmented with post-it notes

a sign saying 'Christmas: There's an app for that."

To my personal amusement, they also retained and decorated our gift to them back when we helped decorate their work area.

pink flowers with some green festiveness

The fun wasn’t limited to our side of the building, though. I personally enjoyed the Star Wars theme over at Marketing (which is otherwise known as the Dark Side). I’ve been admiring their stockings for several weeks. If you can’t read it – the skeleton is Uncle Owen.

Uncle Owen, Luke and Obi-Wan in stockings

Lord Santa even made an appearance.

Darth Vader Santa

There was also a smaller Vader feeling the Christmas spirit along with a slightly different star atop their tree.

Christmas Vader bobblehead

Christmas w/ Death Star & sign saying the world beyond i Hoth

Curiously, this morning it was pointed out to me that Rudolph was no longer a gargantuan-nosed marmot, but instead a… well, I’ll just write it out in it’s entirety.

“Rudolph the bloody-nosed Vampire Spork had a very evil nose and if you ever stubbed it, you would even say it invigorates.
All of the other penguins used to arm-wrestle and call him Edward. They never let deadly Rudolph feast in any violent games…”

The vampire spork was a dead giveaway of the culprit. If it hadn’t been then the addition of the penguin would have been more than enough.

@Firstcrusader didn’t even try to deny it when I mention it to her. I may just start calling her FirstcruVader after this pic, though.

Firstcrusader with the Vader helmet and a lightsaber

PS Our blogger also sent an excellent holiday greeting out to us this week. I hope you enjoy it.

holiday card

Holidays are in the Air: New Partylite Scents

Holidays? Already? Yep, I had the same thought (not that I haven’t already started Christmas shopping). The holidays may seem far away with the whole 90+ and humidity thing going on outside, but Halloween is coming in only 11.5 weeks. After that the holidays just keep piling up until after New Year’s. Don’t panic. There’s still plenty of time to get that pre-holiday to do list done.

All that to say that with all the blinging going on with lia sophia I’ve been remiss in sharing anything from the new Partylite catalogs. Now, I know that there are lots of new beautiful and whimsical home decor pieces in the Halloween and Holiday/Winter catalogs, but it’s really all about the new fragrances. There are nine new scents and seven favorites that have been brought back.

New Scents

Sugar Plum Fairies

Juicy plums, melons and peaches combine with floral notes for a magical aroma. Fulfills the wish for a sophisticated treat.

Peace on Earth

Heavenly fantasy floral blends jasmine and rose with a hint of spice and subtle woodsy notes. Share a feeling of hope and harmony.

Cinnamon Eggnog

Decadent eggnog is flavored with cinnamon and vanilla for a traditional, mouthwatering treat that makes holiday celebrations feel complete.

Leaves of Fun

Rich pumpkin fills the crisp air, laced with hints of cinnamon, mandarin and pine. Takes you to a pumpkin patch, falling leaves and all.


Steaming gingerbread, flavored with a dash of cinnamon and ginger, stirs up memories of a favorite holiday sweet.

Spiced Cider

Apple cider simmer slowly spiced with comforting touches of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. It’s the perfect way to warm up on a cool autumn day.

Spruce in the Snow

All the freshness of spruce, fir, cypress and pine, coated in a blanket of snow. Takes you to the calm and quiet of the winter woods.

Ebony Wood & Patchouli

The rich scent of Asian ebony wood mingles with musky patchouli for an exotic appeal. It’s a bit of the Orient, right at home.

Arctic Oasis

An invigorating spalsh of cool mint, floral and green note mingled with hints of pine and musk. Delivers the refreshingly pure scent of Arctic ice.

They’re Back!

Iced Snowberries

Sweet berries, apples and fruits are kept crisp by winter’s icy air while a dusting of vanilla and musk adds warmth. It’s the best of both worlds.

Cranberry Delight

A rich, fruity mix of cranberries, citrus and black currants is laced with warm vanilla for added sweetness. Creates an air of festivity.

Holiday Spices

A simmering blend of vanilla, connamon and cloves wraps your home in a cozy, warm embrace.

Hocus Pocus

Back by popular demand!

Coconut and praline add an unexpected twist to this mysterious blend of sugar, berries, grapefruit and floral notes. It’s a magical Halloween surprise.

Ginger Pumpkin

The right touch of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon creates the inviting aroma of freshly-baked pumpkin delight.

Halloween Night

Rich butterscotch, vanilla and spices are slowly stirred into a batch of warm, sugary caramel. It’s a gooey, creamy sinfully sweet treat.

Spiced Plum

Back by popular demand!

Rich, succulent plums and pomegranates spiced with cinnamon, clove and vanilla. Delivers the sweet-and-spicy sensation of a fine warmed plum cordial.

Cinnamon & Bayberry

The fiery heat of cinnamon is complemented by the crispness of bayberry. It’s as if fresh Christmas greens have been brought indoors to a spiced holiday kitchen.

Peppermint Bark

Refreshing peppermint kissed with chocolate, mint leaves and vanilla. A decadent treat.

Cinnamon Sticks

This timeless holiday aroma comforts with its familiar, spicy warmth. Almost nothing says “home sweet home” better.

All scents are available now. Check out the Partylite page for current specials.
*Descriptions are courtesy of the Fall/Holiday 2010 catalog*

Belated Memorial Day Thoughts

I had every intention of posting this on Memorial Day, but I’m afraid that this week has been rather on the insane side. So, I decided that since the purpose of Memorial Day isn’t something that should be contained within the 24 hours set aside for it in the 8,765.81277 hours of a year, I would go ahead and post it a little bit later than scheduled.

Here in the United States it seems that everyone over the age of eighteen is jaded about something. I know that I am. Take holidays for example. Every time I sync calengoo on my ipod with my Google calendars it reminds me of the 40+ American holidays it’s  go to go through with the update. That’s approximately 1 holiday every 9 days. Craziness, right? I know I don’t actually have time for that many holidays. So instead they get prioritized. Some are marked as family time, some as federal no mail days and some are barely on my calenderic radar; which is probably pretty common for everyone who doesn’t work for a greeting card company.

It doesn’t seem at all surprising then that somewhere in this myriad of holidays we’ve seemingly worked our way into losing the value in even having them. Just think, we hear complaints about commercialization at Easter and Christmas every year. You can count on it. I would argue that Memorial Day is in the same shoes as both of those. In fact,  I’d go as far as to say it’s in even worse shape. Sure there are flags on the ads, but they’re more concerned with kicking off summer three weeks before it begins than showing your support for our military.

When did we forget what Memorial Day is all about and turn it into an extended vacation weekend?

About a year ago a local author visited our Rotary club to talk about his books, all of which are set during the last year of World War II, and one of the things that he talked about was how the nation came together at that time because every family was touched by the sacrifices that were made during the war. I couldn’t help but wonder as he said it how we modern Americans would measure up against that standard.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, there were 2,350 deaths; 68 of which were civilian. The nation solidified behind a common cause and stayed together through three years of sacrifice. Not only did every family either have someone who served in the war or know someone who did, but there were personal sacrifices on the homefront as well and when the veterans returned from the war they were honored as heroes as they well deserved.

A little less than sixty years later we were attacked again. September 11th, 2001. I still remember it clearly. It’s kind of event that you share with your childrens’ children when you’re old an gray and they’re studying it in history class. by comparison, there have been 2,995 deaths linked to those attacks – the majority of which were civilian. For a brief time we banded together as a nation, but  that quickly dissipated into complaints of being called into duty from the reserves and bickering over the federal defense budget as well as our own petty differences.

How many of our modern veterans came home to find protests and hatred from the very citizens that they have been working to protect? In my personal opinion it has been far, far too many. No matter what one’s personal views are on the war, these men and women deserve more from us – the people they sacrifice of themselves to protect.

Monday, a pair of A-10s flew over my hometown as a part of Memorial Day. How many people didn’t even realize why they were there? The parade to honor the veterans passed by in less than 20 minutes because not enough people are willing to take the time to be a part of it when they could be off on a three day weekend.

Perhaps, as a descendant of a long line of military servicemen and women, I’m oversensitive. After all tears came to my eyes just telling my mom about a short video played at church to honor the veterans and Memorial Day. Even thinking about it now I can feel my tear ducts working up a sheen of misty eyes.  I don’t expect other people to have the same type of deep emotional reaction as me, but I also can’t help but feel that in our jaded, forgetful, ADD mindset we have lost a part of what made the United States of America into the great land that it is.

Remembering the sacrifices that have been and are being made for the freedom we enjoy shouldn’t be limited to one day a year.

The next time you hear an opinion you disagree with or complain about the current crop of political candidates; take a moment to be thankful for those who gave up so much, some their lives, so that you have the right and the choice to do so.