January 15, 2009
by Paul Pethick
‘Tis the season once again. Like clockwork, the Christmas collection of tidbits and trinkets seemed to start lining the shelves even before the unceremonious disposal of Halloween odds and ends, as snow-in-a-can peppers the windows and red ribbons find themselves tied to pine boughs in fine fashion. Too much? Sometimes. But when you are interested in packaging, it doesn’t matter if you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, nothing at all, or something in between. The spirit the holidays bring to the packaging world provides a great year-end pageant of ingenious designs and, at times, rather embarrassing gaffes.
What would the holiday festivities be like without a little illumination to brighten the nights and light up our Christmas trees? My parents had been using their string of lights since some time in the mid-70s, so when I got my own place and they offered them to me, I politely declined and decided to get myself a set of my own. Frankly, I was surprised by the lack of flashiness in packaging design in general in the light department, with Noma’s line of LED lights the most attractive offering on display—although they had very little in the way of holiday claptrap adorning the packaging. The 35-light string that I picked up has one full Christmas ornament lightly printed on the corrugated cardboard box as the only real indication that it is a holiday product. Still, the enlarged image of the LED lights brings a certain amount of color to offset the grey-and-yellow of Noma’s color branding scheme. For all that, the strongest part of the package design here is the clear-plastic window cut-out that allows shoppers to see what it is they’re buying—whereas none of the competing products offered this simple little feature. Not too bright—not at all.
Looking much like my LED lights, the Find Your Flavour five-pack of flavored vodkas from the iconic Swedish distiller Absolut is sure to brighten up somebody’s holidays. The package’s attractive, flavor-matching color sequence—includes yellow (Citron), light-orange (Apeach), green (Pears), red (Raspberry) and pink (Ruby Red)—is a study in tasteful presentation that also does justice to the brand’s famed bottle design, prompting me to pick up a package despite not being a big fan of vodka. Perhaps, however, I may yet pick up on the attraction after I taste some of the intriguing drink recipes contained on the folded insert, attached to the underside of the plastic base. New Year’s Eve … here I come!