Choosing an ornament theme that sells
Deciding what will be pictured on your ornament is the biggest decision
you'll make in this project. You want it to be significant, perhaps historical,
recognizable and of course, pretty. Making a good choice will bring you
oohs, ahhs, positive PR and, most importantly, sales. But where do you
start? What works? What sells? The good news is that you probably have
many choices in your region.
Every community has its own history and flavor. The closer you can get
to the heart of what makes your area unique, the more connected the residents
will feel to this local ornament. Start by asking these questions:
- How did our town begin? Towns tend to grow around industry
and transportation. Was there a major waterway or train hub? Was the
area suited to a particular type of farming, mining or tourism?
- What is the area known for now? The county I live in is - no
kidding - the Turkey Capitol of the World. Many people in the area are
poultry farmers or are in some way connected to the industry. Tapping
into this unique claim to fame would immediately get the attention of
our residents. One caution on this topic: if the theme has been overdone
or is very commercialized, pick something a little less known.
- Who are our "famous sons"? If you look around your town, you
are likely to notice that streets and buildings are named for people.
But who were they? It's likely that these people contributed something
positive to the community. Or maybe they left the community to do great
deeds for the state or country.
- What are those monuments reminding us of? Those carved stones
downtown or at the park you've walked past a hundred times have a little
plaque somewhere that recounts the heroism, bravery, and sacrifice of
someone in the past. What did they do that was so important?
- What do people love about this area? Maybe it's the mountain
range to the east, a gazebo in the city park, or the marinas by the
You local historical society is a wonderful place to find answers to
these questions. Or, you might begin at your local library, chamber of
commerce or visitors bureau.. Many communities (even small ones) have
books or booklets that record significant landmarks. It needn't be a recent
publication, either. A book published fifty or seventy-five years ago
will give you a great perspective on which landmarks have remained important
to the community.
Once you've identified a few areas of interest, it's time to focus on
visual elements. Buildings are by far the most choice popular for several
reasons: People in your town are familiar with them ("oh, isn't that on
Main Street?"). They have likely been around for awhile and come with
their own ties to people, industry and community. They also can be represented
clearly in a drawing for recognition. (some examples that usually are
not easily recognizable: animals, people, abstract scuplture.) Some tried
and true favorites include your local courthouse, train stations, churches,
lighthouses, and old school houses. 'The older, the better' is often true
in this case. In fact, many ornaments have been done to commemorate buildings
that no longer stand. It's a great way to memorialize recently razed buildings.
Some wonderfully creative and successful alternatives have included an
iris garden, a crew team, mountain ranges with distinquishable peaks,
bridges, modes of transportation (trolley, train, boat, etc.) and architectural
details (an elaborate window).
If you are considering a series of ornaments, you might pick a repeating
element. For example, a store in Butte, Montana features a different ore
mine each year. The Baltimore Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary pictures
a different Chesapeake Bay lighthouse. Many communties celebrate one church
every year, and the Sons of the American Revolution choose a founding
father for each edition.
By now, you've found some great motifs with ties to the heart of your
hometown. It's time to gather up postcards, photocopies, brochures, sketches
or photos and send them to us. (these don't need to be perfect - some
snap shots will do nicely) We'll turn your research into a beautiful keepsake
that will treasured for years to come!