Behind the Design of this Holiday Gift that will Unleash Your Inner Child

Agencies often send out holiday gifts to clients, and Goods & Services went above and beyond to provide an extra-special experience for their present recipients. Not only did they create four unique packs of crackers with character inspiration from traditions around the world, but they even incorporated an online game into it. We spoke with Carey George, Partner and Creative Director of Goods & Services, to learn more about their prototyping process, the digital aspect of the design, and balancing beauty and function in packaging design.

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

Goods & Services: We aim to create a unique holiday gift for clients each year. For this year’s project, our first step was a brainstorming session with our graphic design, writing, and digital teams. The challenge is always to create a custom gift that appeals to all of our clients (ranging from a company’s president to a marketing coordinator, in many different industries) that will promote our agency talents in writing, design, and digital development.

The creative directors narrow down the best ideas and choose one overall concept—this can be tricky, as there are sometimes a number of amazing concepts (often, we can shelf these for another year).

Our account team then creates a formal brief, including component descriptions and specs, schedules and deadlines. They often help source some of the off-the-shelf components (like cracker snaps, in this case).

Because this was a packaging project, we created prototype designs—laser cut and assembled at 100% scale. We worked with the project’s print partner, Flash Reproductions, to ensure that the crackers could be manufactured easily (we’ve learned through the years that something that can be mocked up in the studio sometimes doesn’t work on a larger manufacturing scale).

Once the package prototype was finalized, we began the graphic design and writing work. We fleshed out multiple designs; at this point we started considering how to handle the additional components (such as the cracker prizes, which ended up being graphic buttons that related to the characters).

The creative directors worked with the team to refine the designs, which, after the final details were tweaked, were passed on to our production group. Our production group finessed the design’s letter spacing, color refinements, etc., and merged the final creative with the die-line and printing specs. The final part of our process is proofreading the final artwork and reviewing printer’s proofs.

Once the press proofs were approved, we attended a press approval, working directly with the press operator to achieve the best color results.

After the printing and finishing (die-cutting and gluing) was complete, we created a final sample for the printer’s assembly group to follow (this included the order in which components were to be assembled).

What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with the holiday crackers' packaging and how did you accomplish it?

Goods & Services: In the spirit of the season, we wanted to create a gift that could be shared with our clients’ families and friends (both young and old)—something that would create a conversation, in this case over a holiday dinner or party.

How did you go about including an online game in part of the whole project development?

Goods & Services: Because we have a digital team in house, a digital application of the gift’s concept is always part of the initial brief and brainstorming phase. The best ideas often transfer easily to a digital component and concept.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

Goods & Services: The biggest challenge was creating a cracker prototype that looked good and functioned properly—we had to create many laser cut prototypes before settling on the right design and paper weight.

If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

Goods & Services: The overall concept is what I’m most proud of. The overall package takes the concept of the traditional holiday cracker to another level of playfulness, storytelling, and design.

Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

Goods & Services: There is no such thing as prototyping too much. And, specifically, it’s important to try to create full-size prototypes—viewing mockups at full scale helps you avoid needing to make unexpected design refinements later in the process.