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Category: History

It’s Our 11th Anniversary!


act-11th-annivesaryThe team at A Creative Touch is getting ready to¬†celebrate our¬†eleventh anniversary. In fact, our anniversary will fall on November 11th! That got us thinking about 11th anniversaries and how to celebrate them. (They often don’t get much attention since 10-year and 15-year anniversaries¬†usually steal the show.)

Did you know that the traditional eleventh-year anniversary gift is steel? In fact, there is a chart for appropriate traditional and modern anniversary gifts.  Eleven-year celebratory gifts can include traditional choices like steel clocks, watches, or kitchen appliances. Modern options might be items like golf equipment, tools, exercise gear, or steel desk accessories.  How can your business or organization celebrate 11 years with promotional products?  Many of these customary 11th anniversary steel gifts make fabulous promotional items.  

act-steel-golfCustomizable pens are very popular giveaways-with an extra 11th anniversary-themed touch of steel.  A more unusual option is a portable toolkit designed for golfers. This is an excellent promotional product if golf enthusiasts are a big part of your clientele.  If you are looking to appeal to busy consumers, a steel travel mug is a practical, much appreciated choice.

At A Creative Touch, we carry more than 300 jewelry items among our steel promotional products. Choosing a jewelry item for your business is a neat twist on this act-steel-cufffashionable gift trend. Many of these promotional products can be customized with a personal message for your own 11th anniversary.¬† Consider a customizable steel pendant or a more daring option like a unisex steel cuff in a fashionable black patina which is often called an ‚Äėoil rubbed’ finish–a great promotional product option for both men and women.

Whatever you choose, A Creative Touch can help you celebrate your eleventh anniversary and promote your business in style!¬† With more than 30,000 steel items to choose from, we sure we can help your company ‘steel’ the spotlight on your 11th anniversary!

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Elephant and Donkey Promotional Products Want Your Vote!

act-elephants-and-donkeysYou don’t have to be a nature enthusiast to wonder why unusual animals symbolize America’s two major political parties. Over the years, the donkey and the elephant have become the accepted symbols of the Democratic and Republican parties. Some Democrats might joke about the elephant being slow and conservative, but the Republicans think it is dignified and intelligent. On the other hand, some Republicans might regard the donkey as ungainly and ornery, but the Democrats claim it is humble and courageous.

According to the Washington Post, it was famed 1870s newspaper cartoonist Thomas Nast¬†-the man also responsible for sketching Santa Claus with a generous stomach- who associated each party with its respective animal.¬† Although the Democrats have never officially adopted the donkey as a party symbol, they have used various donkey designs on publications and promotional products over the years. The Republicans have actually adopted the elephant as their official symbol.¬† They use the design widely in promotional products. To honor the role of each animal in its party’s history, here are some promotional products for your next political shindig:

act-plush-bank-elephantHere’s an adorable elephant, perfect for the kid in your life, or the “big kids” helping out¬†with your campaign.¬† It¬†doubles as a bank, making it the perfect ‘thank you’ for campaign contributions. ¬†We have an array of family-friendly promotional products for this election cycle. Why not giveaway a stuffed animal at your next political fundraiser?

Looking for a promotional product that is a tad more traditional? At ACT, we can customize donkey or elephant shaped-signs and placards for your next candidate fundraiser or rally.

act-democrat-party-packWill you be on the edge of your seat on election night? Try our donkey and elephant-shaped stress toys! These cute little squeezables are sure to brighten your mood and can be customized, too.  Throwing a large party? Go for a complete party pack like this one:

Did you know that A Creative Touch¬†has more than 500 elephant and donkey-themed promotional products to choose from and that we can customize many of our items to your exact specifications? If you’re looking to celebrate this election cycle, contact us for your promotional product needs!

Political Promotional Products Win Big!

act-political-campaign-buttonsDo you remember “I LIKE IKE”? Ever since the catchy Eisenhower button debuted in the 1950s, political campaign items have become “must have” promotional products, widely known in our pop culture.¬† For the 1984 election cycle, Ronald Reagan and George Bush chose buttons with the re-election slogan “Keep America Great.” More recent elections have popularized products emblazoned with official campaign images, like Shepard Fairey’s famous¬† “Hope” poster from the 2008 Obama campaign, which was later purchased by the Smithsonian museum.

However, today’s campaigns aren’t limited to simple buttons, signs, and posters.¬† Instead, the variety of campaign promotional products available is endless. Candidates and their teams can chose from an assortment of items that voters can use on an everyday basis. These items can include mugs, keychains, lanyards, magnets, and cups, just to name a few possibilities. Popular wearable campaign items come in a variety of forms, too, including hats, buttons, sweatshirts, and t-shirts, designed to let everyone know who the wearer supports, regardless of whether you’re running for mayor or PTA president. Along with the classic bumper stickers and yard signs, voters can pledge their allegiance to a candidate in more unconventional ways, with promotional products like teddy bears, foam fingers, and balloons.¬† If you are organizing a campaign, these images may be the way that voters remember your candidacy.

In fact, decades after their release, some campaign promotional products-everything from commemorative coins to posters-are still popular and valuable collector’s memorabilia.¬† One organization, American Political Items Collectors, works with many presidential museums to exhibit remarkable or rare campaign items. Hobbyists and collectors often chose to build collections based on their favorite historical figure, state, or campaign. One collector purchased a single 1924 button depicting candidates John Davis and Charles Bryan for a record $150,000 in 2000.

Collectors’ interests range from famous figures like President Lincoln to lesser-known candidates like Davis and Bryan, as well as historic movements like Prohibition or Women’s Suffrage. Present-day candidates and aspiring officeholders are wise to think about creating visually appealing promotional products that will stand the test of time and become collector’s items for our future generations. Taking care in choosing the best image for your promotional products is an important part of every election campaign, whether you’re running for national office or campaigning to be your organization’s treasurer.

At A Creative Touch, we focus on the kind of quality service and promotional product delivery that will make your campaign stand out from the crowd.

The “Dirty” Secret Behind Promotional Products

Printer | Antique Design IllustrationsIn recent blog posts, I’ve talked about one of the hottest promotional products on the market today, reusable tote bags.¬† But did you know that the “American father of promotional products” launched today’s multi-billion dollar industry with a reusable tote bag?¬†

In 1886, a newspaper owner in Coshocton, Ohio named Jasper Freemont Meek observed a young schoolboy as he dropped his books in the dirt on Main Street.¬† This sparked an idea.¬† Mr. Meek approached a fellow business owner and friend, Mr. Cantwell of Cantwell Shoes.¬† Meek pitched the idea of imprinting a burlap book bag with a simple, but direct advertising message:¬† “Buy Cantwell Shoes.”¬† Cantwell would give every child who came into his shoe store a free bag. The children would carry the bag as they walked to and from school so Cantwell’s name would be seen all over town. ¬†¬†Meek explained that this simple advertising promotion would build store traffic, increase name recognition and spike sales in Cantwell’s store.

Mr. Meek manufactured the book bag, imprinted the advertising slogan on his printing press, and the rest, as they say, is history.  Those dirty schoolbooks sparked the birth of the promotional products industry as we know it today.

After launching another successful promotional product (imprinted horse blankets, seen on virtually every horse in town), Meek realized that he could easily supplement his newspaper revenues by using his printing press to print a variety of promotional products in between weekly newspaper editions.  Meek officially started his own successful promotional products company, the Tuscarora Advertising Co., organizing a sales force that sold promotional items with practically no competition until 1889.

A rival local newspaperman became Meek’s first competitor.¬† Henry D. Beach followed Meek’s lead and soon the two were in stiff competition to be the first to create new promotional products by printing advertisements on anything that could be run through a printing press: cloth caps, aprons, hats for horses, Cobb pipes, marble bags, fly swatters, buggy whips, card cases, wooden rulers, calendars and fans, all imprinted with the messages of local merchants.¬† Both men then turned to printing on metal signs, opening up a new product line for metal advertising trays (like the now iconic collector’s items created for Coca-Cola and beer companies).¬† Soon the two companies would become world leaders in promotional products, attracting artists and skilled workers the U.S. and from Europe, all traveling to Coshocton, Ohio to gain work in illustration and other advertising mediums.

So what are the “dirty” little secrets Mr. Jasper Freemont Meek ¬†and his competitor Henry Beach taught us?¬†¬† The most effective advertising messages are the ones printed on useful, everyday items.¬†It’s easiest to capture your customers’ attention with promotional giveaways and novelty items.¬† And it’s smart to incorporate promotional products that correlate to your company’s core business-painter’s caps for a paint store, marble bags for a toy store, and reusable tote bags for a shoe store that makes its best profits selling a new pair of shoes to growing schoolchildren each year!

Ribbon Awareness Lapel Pins

act-ribbon-awarenessPerhaps the most popular lapel pins available today are ribbon awareness lapel pins.¬† If you were around in the ’70s, then you must remember the huge Tony Orlando and Dawn hit, Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.¬† This is my earliest recollection of a ribbon awareness pin, but the tradition dates back much further than that.¬† ¬†

The origin of yellow ribbons as a token of remembrance goes back to the 19th century when women allegedly wore a yellow ribbon in their hair to signify their devotion to a husband or sweetheart serving in the U.S. Cavalry.

Of course, these days, yellow ribbons are joined with ribbons of every color of the rainbow.¬† Many groups, organizations and foundations have adopted ribbons to represent their causes.¬† Often, ribbons have multiple meanings or causes attached to them, making it difficult to create a comprehensive and fully accurate list.¬† But, we’ve attempted to identify some of the most common awareness lapel pins:

Pink ribbons are most commonly associated with breast cancer awareness and childhood cancer awareness.

Yellow ribbons signify support of our troops, but they can also serve as a symbol for MIA/POW, adoptive parents, amber alerts, bladder cancer, spina bifida, and endometriosis. A yellow ribbon with a heart is used to represent the survivors left behind after a suicide.

Red ribbons are most commonly affiliated with the fight against AIDS and HIV.  This ribbon color is also a symbol for heart disease, stroke, substance abuse, MADD, DARE, Epidermolysis Bullosa, and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.

A burgundy ribbon¬†represents brain aneurysms, Cesarean sections (worn upside down), headaches, hemangioma, vascular malformation, hospice care, multiple myeloma, William’s syndrome, Thrombophilia, Antiphospholid Antibody Syndrome, and adults with disabilities.

Purple ribbons are used for pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid cancer, domestic violence, ADD, alzheimer’s, religious tolerance, animal abuse, the victims of 9/11, Crohn’s disease and colitis, cystic fibrosis, lupus, leimyosarcoma, and fibromyalgia.

Blue ribbons are used to symbolize the fight against drunk driving, child abuse prevention, Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), the victims of hurricane Katrina, dystonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), alopecia, Education, Epstein-Barr Virus, Save the Music and many other causes. 

Dark blue ribbons symbolize arthritis, child abuse prevention, victim’s rights, free speech, water quality, and water safety.

A light blue ribbon is a symbol of childhood cancer (alternative color: pink), prostate cancer, Trisomy 18, and scleroderma.

Teal ribbons are used for ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers as well as sexual assault, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and tsunami victims.

The color green (green ribbon) is a symbol of childhood depression, missing children, open records for adoptees, environmental concerns, kidney cancer, tissue/organ donation, homeopathy, and worker and driving safety.

Orange is the ribbon color used to represent leukemia, hunger, cultural diversity, humane treatment of animals, and self-injury awareness.

White ribbons honor victims of terrorism, violence against women, peace, right to life, bone cancer, adoptees, and retinal blastoma.

A pearl ribbon is a symbol for emphysema, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and multiple sclerosis.

 Black ribbons represent mourning, melanoma, and gang prevention.

Brown ribbons are an anti-tobacco symbol.

Grey ribbons stand for diabetes, asthma, and brain cancer.

Silver ribbons are used to represent children with disabilities, Parkinson’s disease, and mental illnesses such as severe depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Gold ribbons are a symbol for childhood cancer.

If you’ve ever seen a ribbon made of fabric that resembles a jigsaw puzzle, you are looking at a symbol for autism.¬† See our blog post, Pinning it Forward.

Rainbow ribbons represent gay pride and support for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender community and their quest for equal rights.

Lace ribbons are a symbol for osteoporosis.

Pink and blue ribbons represent miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death due to SIDS or other causes.

Flag ribbons are a symbol for both the victims and heros of the 9/11 attacks. They also symbolize patriotism and support of our troops.  Appropriately, flag ribbons are also a symbol of fireworks safety.

No matter which lapel pin ribbon color you choose to represent awareness for a meaningful cause, we hope you will not only wear it with pride, but use it as a way to start conversations that lead to prevention, cures, and hope.

Recognizing “Sweet” Clients and Volunteers with “Heart”


Heart-Shaped Jar Opener

Heart-Shaped Jar Opener

For years, corporations and organizations have followed a tradition of sending holiday cards and gifts to their clients, vendors and volunteers. The end of the year is recognized as a good time to acknowledge relationships and reflect on the past year. But because so many companies honor this practice, recipients are flooded with cards and the gesture loses some of its impact.

Consequently, in recent decades, companies started sending Thanksgiving cards and gifts in lieu of Christmas or New Year greetings.¬† After all, Thanksgiving is a holiday devoted to giving thanks for the good things in life, and that includes our clients, vendors and volunteers.¬† Furthermore, the Thanksgiving holiday is¬†not associated with any specific religious faith.¬† As a result, Thanksgiving now brings a¬†¬†lot of client appreciation “traffic”.

Heart-Shaped Magnetized Power Clip

Heart-Shaped Magnetized Power Clip

¬†Have you ever considered sending Valentine’s Day gifts to your customers and volunteers?¬† If you want to stand out from your competition and be recognized and remembered by the people who make your business run, this is a great time to¬†express your affection for¬†them.¬†¬† It’s also a¬†creative¬†way to remind your clients that you are here for them, and bump up your “middle-of-winter” sales.

It’s the thought that counts, so Valentine gifts and goodies for customers, vendors (and even employees)¬†do not have to be costly to make an impact; tokens of appreciation will work just fine.¬† Cookies, brownies, chocolate¬†and other sweets are a timeless representation of the holiday. You can buy them in the individual boxes,¬†attaching your business card or a branded postcard with a ribbon.¬†¬†¬†Send a card in an envelope and you can even include an extra -a small, flat promotional item like a magnet with your company logo.

Heart-Shaped Sponge

Heart-Shaped Sponge

¬†If you don’t want to¬†send boxed chocolates or sweets, coffee mugs are a great vehicle for candies, individual packets of coffee, or gift cards.¬† Here’s a great idea– include a printed “coupon” for coffee with you. This gives you an opportunity to follow up and set coffee dates, giving you some one-on-one time with your most valued customers.

And don’t forget things that are¬†shaped like hearts!¬† Did you know that A Creative Touch has more than 4,800 heart-themed promotional products?¬† Here are just a few of the heart-themed products we offer:¬† aprons, auto accessories, baggage tags, blankets, books, calculators, cameras, clipboards, coasters, coin purses, compact discs, cookie jars, dishes, flashlights, picture frames, highlighters, ice scrapers, jewelry boxes, key holders, key chains, magnets, heart-shaped measuring spoons, mouse pads, notepads, playing cards, salt and pepper shakers, scarves, shopping bags, soaps, spa products, sponges, stress relievers, stuffed animals, tape measures, and tote bags!

But, if I had to choose my favorite heart-inspired gift, it would be a customized book such as the one I created for my customers.¬† It’s called:¬† The Heart of a Volunteer.¬† Click here to read more about it.

Flag Day T-Shirt

 Happy Flag Day!  June 14th commemorates the day in 1777 when the Second Constitutional Congress adopted the thirteen-stripes-and-thirteen-stars American flag.

As the legend goes, it was George Washington and two other members of the Continental Congress who asked Betsy Ross to sew the first American flag sometime in the late spring of 1776.¬† The young widow was only in her early 20’s when she completed the first flag with thirteen stars arranged in a circle.¬† A year later, the Continental Congress officially adopted the design for the national flag, and our beloved Stars and Stripes became the most recognized symbol of the United States around the world.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 “Flag Day.”¬† Thirty-five years later (in1949), Congress passed legislation asking the president to issue an annual proclamation calling for the observance of the holiday.

act-flag-shirtThis week, millions¬†of Americans will observe Flag Day by waving Old Glory outside their homes and businesses. Veteran’s groups and¬†certain communities also arrange events and special ceremonies in honor of Flag Day.¬† But, there is another way to show your patriotism–promotional products.

My favorite patriotic promotional products is this tie-dyed American flag T-shirt.¬† For me, it’s an item that puts a fresh, modern twist on the traditional Old Glory.¬† Available in sizes S to XL, the shirt includes your own 1-color imprint (front or back).¬† A client recently ordered this T-shirt with a custom imprint, and the results were fantastic!

Whether you enjoy a traditional approach to Flag Day or a modern spin on celebrating the Stars and Strips, you’re sure to enjoy these fun facts about our flag:

Who cut the American flag into pieces and was honored for doing it?

Robert Peary, who left pieces of the flag scattered at the North Pole

Is it ever appropriate to fly the flag upside down?

Yes, but only in an emergency. It means “Help Me! It’s an emergency! Call the police! I am in dire trouble and need immediate help!”

What is done with worn or outdated flags?

Flags are used until they are worn out and then they are destroyed, preferably by burning.

The American flag first flew over a foreign fort in what country?

Libya – over Fort Derne, on the shores of Tripoli.

A vexillologist is an expert in what?

The history of flags.

How to Make a Lapel Pin

Ever wonder how custom lapel pins are made?¬† You’ll be surprised at all of the work (much of it done by hand!)¬†that goes into making these miniature pieces of wearable art….


Lapel Pin Diplomacy

act-read-my-pinsMy friend Star Sosa of Spectrum Art & Jewelry told me about a wonderful book by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box, was published in conjunction with the Museum of Arts and Design’s first major exhibition of jewelry from Ms. Albright’s personal collection.

Why should the world care about Madeleine Albright’s pins? Well, turns out they were an important factor in recent history. The story goes that Albright, the first female Secretary of State became known for wearing brooches during diplomatic meetings that purposefully conveyed her views.

It started when Albright criticized Saddam Hussein and in return, Hussein‚Äôs poet in residence called her “an unparalleled serpent.” Shortly thereafter, while preparing to meet with Iraqi officials, Albright decided to make a diplomatic statement by wearing a snake pin she happened to have in her jewelry box. From that day forward, pins became part of Albright’s diplomatic communication.


For example, when Ms. Albright thought negotiations would likely go well, she would wear a balloon pin. She also frequently wore a dove pin given to her by Leah Rabin, wife of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995 by a radical opposed to Rabin’s role in peace efforts. Later, Leah Rabin presented Albright with a matching dove necklace, and told her, “In your job one dove of peace is not going to be enough.”

As the Queen of Promotional Products, one of the things I find most interesting about Albright’s collection is that it is not particularly valuable in terms of the jewelry itself. Many of the pins owned by the former Secretary of State are mass-produced, inexpensive pieces (like the ones we sell here) that she picked up or received as token gifts during her diplomatic globe-trotting.

The Museum of Arts and Design will be holding on to Albright‚Äôs pin collection for a while; because it is a traveling exhibit, Ms. Albright will not get her pins back for at least two years. This didn‚Äôt seem to bother her. According to USA Today, the museum curator said Albright saw the long delay as an opportunity ‚ÄĒ to buy more pins.

Did You Earn Your Wings?


Click for the link to this cute pilot costume!

¬†Aah, the good ol’ days….I travel extensively and these days we’re lucky if the airline gives us a bag of pretzels and something to drink.¬† But do you remember the days when the airlines used to serve food on real china with real silverware?¬† Or the era when you could still get pillows and blankets and slippers without flying first class?

The airlines used to treat children well too.¬† As a kid it was so exciting to fly the friendly skies knowing that your reward would be a set of plastic wings “just like” the ones the pilots wore on their uniforms.¬† Didn’t every child dream of becoming a pilot or a flight attendant after receiving a junior wings lapel pin?

Those airline lapel wings are now pieces of nostalgia sought after by collectors.¬† Manufacturers started issuing lapel pins in the 1930’s.¬† Today there are over 900 known types of junior wings.¬† They have been made from cast metal, stamped tin, plastic, cloth, paper and vinyl.¬† Small plastic wings sell for about $1 each on the collectibles market whereas metal wings command about $25 a pair.¬† As for those childhood memories?¬† Well, they’re priceless.

Tell us all about your special lapel pin story! Fill in our Online Form or print out a Paper Form and mail it to us.

Click here to email your lapel pin photo.

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