It starts the same way every year. Partway through October, the first signs of the holidays start appearing in retail stores around town. An inflatable Santa here, some wrapping paper there… like crocuses in spring, they signal the beginning of a new season; the holiday season. Along with the holidays comes one of Liquid’s creative department’s favorite annual side projects, the holiday print card and animated ecard. When the primary goal of a project is to put a smile on people’s faces and say thanks for the past year, it’s a sure bet to be a fun one.
The first step is always the hardest: coming up with the big idea. At Liquid, we consider ourselves to be a fairly competitive group of people; we always want to outdo whatever we did the year before. The right theme for our holiday greeting has to be relatable for a wide audience, work in both the print and video settings and give us a chance to try something new. It’s got to be just right, and it’s got a set deadline, so every year halfway through October the hunt for that light bulb moment begins. Inspiration comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s a clever turn of phrase, a color palette, or maybe even the weather! This year it struck as a picture in a magazine - a simple photo of a rack of cooling gingerbread cookies. With warmth, sweetness, holiday spice and a faint reminder of home, the gingerbread cookies had hit the mark.
To kick off the project, we traded in our traditional tools of the trade - laptops, fancy software and a fast internet connection - for kitchen tools. In total, about 4 dozen gingerbread cookies were made from scratch and decorated to be used as props for our cards. We set up a photo shoot in our conference room to transform the cookies into pixels, and then shared the goodies with the office. Our images were handed over to one designer for the print card and another for the ecard. Each worked their magic to turn our sweet gingerbread cookies into warm holiday greetings. After we had a giggle contest between three of the ladies in the office to find the perfect voice of our gingerbread protagonist in the final scene of the ecard, our work was done.
Want to bake up your own batch of gingerbread cookies? Here’s our recipe:
Picture Perfect Gingerbread Cookies
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 stick butter, room temperature
¼ cup shortening
½ cup packed brown sugar
⅔ cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt, pepper), then set aside.
Beat the butter and shortening together in a large bowl, using an electric mixer. Add the brown sugar and beat for about 2 minutes. Add the molasses and egg and beat to combine.
Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients by hand. The dough will be stiff.
Divide the dough into two equal portions, wrap in plastic wrap and flatten into disks. Put the dough into the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours.
After dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough to about 1/8” on a well-floured work surface, and then cut out cookies using cookie cutters.
Place cookies on lightly greased cookie sheets and bake 10-12 minutes until cookies have set, rotating top to bottom and back to front halfway through. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for about 2 minutes, and then place them on wire cake racks to finish cooling.
Decorate with your favorite icing or candy toppings and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from The Food Network
About Liquid Interactive
Liquid is a leading interactive marketing agency specializing in interactive strategy and marketing, user experience (UX) design, creative website design and development, complex business applications, broadcast and video production, and mobile and interactive technologies. Headquartered in the Lehigh Valley (PA) with a satellite office in Greensboro, NC, Liquid serves national and global brands, Fortune 1000 and F100 clients, and non-profits.