Hall & Company



Naughty Elves

Yes, it’s that time of year again! We've created another fun and festive card to celebrate the holiday season. We had a lot of fun thinking of a creative way to include all thirty-two of us! (Plus a dog!)


Here's what the front of the card looks like: a note from Santa’s HR department (along with a peek at Santa’s e-mail account!).

(Move your mouse over the picture to magnify.)

After that teaser we turn to the inside of the card, where Santa reviews the disciplinary report, which just happens to contain photos of the elvish perpetrators.

(Move your mouse over the picture to magnify.)


And on the back of the card, Santa replies to his subordinate:


How we made it

Back in May, 2009 (yes, May!), we had a meeting and talked over a few ideas before settling on the ‘naughty elves’ theme. It was decided that instead of showing the elves doing naughty deeds, we would simply describe their naughtiness. That would make photography simpler, and by having the humor be more verbal than visual, this card would be a bit different than previous years.

Our first task was to come up with a simple storyline that would be told in a sequence of images on the front, inside, and back of the card:

Front: Santa, as CEO of Claus, Inc., receives a report from a subordinate in the HR department, along with a note asking what to do about the naughty elves.

Inside: Santa looks over the report, which includes ‘mug shots’ and details of the elves’ naughtiness.

Back: In the spirit of Christmas, Santa replies to his subordinate, telling him to pardon all the elves.


Our graphic designer, John Redhed, came up with a layout that crammed all thirty-two employees’ photos on the inside of the card, along with their ‘infractions.’ (As our company grows each year, it gets more difficult to fit everyone in!)


John provided us with some ideas for the infractions, and we spent a lot of time tweaking them until they were just right.

We scheduled photography for mid-September, when everyone would be back from vacation. Then we went on the Internet and ordered several different elf costumes, so we wouldn't all look identical.

As we brainstormed with John and photographer Brad Camp, it was decided that the photos should look as if the Claus, Inc. HR department had snapped the perps’ mugshots against an office wall. And instead of having the elves smile for their photos, we thought it would make more sense for them to act pouty, embarrassed, or just plain mad — after all, they’ve been caught being naughty, right?


When photography day arrived, John and Brad arrived early to set up, and we started shooting about 9:00am. One at a time, each employee put on a costume of their choice and stood in front of the wall, while John directed them where to look and which facial expressions to try. For some of us, acting irritated was easy; others needed a bit of encouragement. And for a few, the inability to pout convincingly for the camera necessitated some later modifications via Photoshop.

Fortified by donuts and coffee, John and Brad worked steadily down the list of employees and finished shooting a bit before noon, by which time they had just about run out of synonyms for “look more pouty!”


Now it was up to John to take the collection of digital photos into Photoshop and turn them into a Christmas card.


First, he worked on the individual photos. Each person who had at least part of their ears showing was given complimentary cosmetic surgery.

Some items of clothing were re-colored so they wouldn’t look mismatched.

In several photos items were added, like the candy canes in Aime’s hat . . .

. . . and the buttons on Jenny’s costume.

Geoff’s textbook, an income tax reference, had its title changed.

As mentioned above, some employees had difficulty acting cranky on cue. Jen, for instance, needed some help from Photoshop . . .

. . . as did Huckleberry. For some reason, she simply refused to frown, even after we repeatedly explained the card concept.

As a finishing touch, John added the fictional logo of Claus, Inc. to the wall in some of the pictures.

With all of the individual photos done, John added them (along with the infraction text) to this photo he took of his own hand in a red glove . . .

. . . to get the final composite image:

For the front of the card, John took this photo of a laptop on a desk . . .

. . . then added some handwriting to the paper, a label to the folder, and Santa’s e-mail to the screen, resulting in this:

And voila! Another year, another textbook example of O.C.D. as applied to holiday greeting cards! We hope you’ve enjoyed this card as much as we enjoyed creating it!

(If you’d like to see some of the cards we’ve done previously,
click one of the images below.)