Our First Holiday Gift (in only 47 easy steps!)

It was a beautiful autumn day in Charlotte, and three intrepid creative minds converged to mastermind the very first Theory House holiday gift. For those of you who have endeavored to design a logo, write a headline or craft some copy for your own brand know how tough it can be. You can be your very worst client.

But that was not the case on this beautiful autumn day. Our team had already begun to articulate and build our Theory House brand; the holiday gift became the perfect vehicle to experiment.

We knew we wanted to create a signature cocktail. A backstory was developed around the concoction. Our drink would serve as an initiation into the Theory House inner circle—a wiley group of mad men, pontificators and inventors. The gift had to convey an air of mystery and exclusivity. Here's how we did it:


It started with the drink. We did a company-wide blind taste testing of bourbons and hard ciders. We did it during lunch. It was the best lunch of all time. As far as I can remember.

After the fog cleared the winning combination was Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Angry Orchard Apple Ginger Hard Cider. Here's the recipe:

12 oz. bottle Angry Orchard Apple Ginger hard cider
1.5 oz. Knob Creek Kentucky Straight bourbon whiskey
1 tablespoon superfine cinnamon sugar
Star anise to garnish

We called it "The Initiation," a drink that is the induction into our humble House.


Once we got the formulation right (hiccup!) it was on to the copywriting and design. This was no measly hang tag with a logo and a quick "Happy Holidays!" Our clients are the best. So we set out to make them the best dang gift we could.

We had forty custom pine boxes made. Then we hand stained each one (note to self: next year wear gloves.) Then we numbered each box and lid and had them laser engraved.

But it didn't stop there.

We soaked and scraped off 80 bottle labels. We designed new labels that walked our client through the three degrees of "initiation." We lovingly applied the labels.

But wait. There's more.

We letterpressed cards, labels and muslin bags. We filled and capped vials full of cinnamon sugar. We picked the perfect star anise, dropped them in bags and tied on tags. We dripped hot wax onto our hand in pursuit of the perfect seal on each card.

We packed each limited-edition box with its swag of booze and accoutrement, stuffed it with crinkle paper, tied it with twine and sent it to its new owner.

For those of you who received a box this year, thank you again for making our business possible. We sincerely cherish you.


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