I love having my hands in things when it comes to work. There is no conversation I’m not happy to be a part of and almost nothing I’m not eager to help out with… except holiday gift projects. I avoid them (sometimes even physically with well-timed Starbucks runs) because in my experience they are always something people are excited about in August, forget to actually plan throughout October, become vaguely stressed about in November and associate with mild panic come December. They never quite turn out as well as you’d hoped and are all but forgotten by New Year’s Eve. So yeah, not my favorite.
But sitting on a Zoom call the day before Thanksgiving, as we rehashed our list of potential client holiday gifts (cupcakes, caramels, etc) with a shared bah humbug spirit, I had one of those dreadful out of body experiences. Not the transcendent kind, but one of those moments when you hear words escape from your mouth and wonder where the heck they’re coming from.
“What happened to the cookbook idea?”
The rest is a bit of a blur, as were the next two weeks. I couldn’t tell you why I was suddenly so excited by something I clearly had zero interest in before, but I was. I bug the team for things daily but asking them to get excited about an agency project with full schedules of client work and an, ahem, compressed timeline of 17 days was probably going to cost all of the brownie points I’d ever earned with these people. Because they are kind and patient, they said yes…in cautious tones and with wary expressions. We got to work.
Each SG team member was asked to submit a handful of recipe options (Jordan and I would narrow them down to make sure we didn’t end up with six different versions of mac and cheese) and then make one or two and submit process or finished product photos. As in, iPhone photos taken in their own kitchens. Gulp.
As submissions came in, copy was channeled to Lisa for proofing and photos to Leanne and Bill for a bit of brightening and resizing. Random groceries were purchased for photoshoots in our satellite studios (my kitchen table and Leanne’s back porch). When I saw the first internal draft, I got goosebumps. I’ll be honest with you: given the constraints for this project, I set my expectations somewhere around really-nice-newsletter level. But I was looking at a book. One that I would buy. Holy shit.
Once that draft made the rounds, excitement was palpable. After many months of COVID-related messaging and a particularly gloomy DC, we had something fun on our hands. It was just what we needed and I think it shows.
In a matter of days and just as many last minute photoshoots, we had our final version ready to go and I was seeing more smiles on the faces of my coworkers than I had in a long time. A project that is known for testing relationships strengthened ours and a gift intended for clients and friends ended up being one for us, too.
You can check out the final copy here!