Monthly Archives: January 2013

    • Customer Recognition: Operation Bald Eagle

      We have a lot of really great customers.  Jeff Mitchell is at the top.  Not because he spends a lot of money with us.  But because he does some pretty amazing work.  I think you'll agree after reading about his organization.  It is called Operation Bald Eagle.

      Operation Bald Eagle is about serving the men and women who serve to protect us: Military, Law Enforcement & Fire Fighters.  These patriots serve us sacrificially 24/7/365. Operation Bald Eagle seeks to serve them in their time of need.

      They offer several services that are performed throughout the year as a way to give back to these groups of patriots, and their immediate families out of western Washington. These include care packages to the troops several times a year, visits to the VA Hospital's in Seattle/Tacoma several times a year, and Project Picking up the Pieces to the families affected by loss and their respective agency/department or military service.

      Operation Bald Eagle also sponsors Toys for Troops to collect toys and clothes for our military in-need and the families of fallen military.  They collect picnic items Memorial Day through the end of June for Picnic for Patriots. This program provides a July 4th celebration for troop families.  And last year they were able to surprise 3 military families with a night’s stay and money to spend at Great Wolf Lodge.

      Operation Bald Eagle and Eastside Fire & Rescue recognize Creekside Elementary for their supply drive. Operation Bald Eagle and Eastside Fire & Rescue recognize Creekside Elementary for their supply drive.

      After more than 3 years running this organization part-time, while working a full-time job, Jeff is now running Operation Bald Eagle full -time.  He believes in doing whatever needs doing for those who sacrifice their all for all of us.  And he is talking it up on the radio and in communities, and finding other organizations to partner with to help spread his ideas and his services to other parts of the country.

      If you’d like to learn more about Operation Bald Eagle, you can find them at their Facebook page .

      Jeff is seeking volunteers to help with supply drives for Thanksgiving, July 4th and Toys for Troops.  He especially likes working with schools and has been known to drop in on a class to show his appreciation.  If you are interested in volunteering with his organization, email him at [email protected].

      Keep up the great work Jeff!

      Blessings, Anne

    • Guide to Planning an Awards Ceremony

      Planning an awards ceremony can be a large project, but the benefits can be quite significant.  While most events have the same basic components, how they’re put together will make your occasion special.

      The first step toward planning an awards ceremony is deciding the purpose and goals of your event.  Who would you like to acknowledge and for what?  Is it a more casual function or a more formal gala?  Answering these questions can help guide your choice.  Once you’ve determined your goals for the event, you can begin the planning process.

      Planning Your Event

      Below are different components to consider when planning an event.  They are just general guidelines; it’s up to you and your team to decide what’s right for your organization.


      The first place to start is with your budget.  How much can you allocate to the location?  Food?  Your speaker(s)?  Awards?  Once a spending plan has been determined, you can proceed with planning the function.

      Date and Time

      This may already be predetermined, such as the end of a conference or the end of a sales cycle.  If your event is a smaller affair, a Monday morning pep talk with a small awards ceremony in the office may be appropriate. However, a larger annual awards gala will require planning and securing a date months ahead of time.  The important thing is to confirm a date and time and communicate it to the guests and other VIPs so that they can be present for the ceremony.


      For a smaller, less formal event, a meeting at the office may be appropriate.  For larger galas or end-of-year recognition, hosting dinner, a speaker, and an awards ceremony makes a wonderful event, especially for larger companies.  For this type of affair, hotel ballrooms, large convention spaces, and other large venues are terrific choices. Reserve your venue early, as many popular spots get quickly booked, especially during the holidays or summer wedding season.  Reserve your location at least one to two months in advance.

      Guest List

      The first people to invite are nominees and award recipients, plus a guest if appropriate.  VIPs, corporate managers, and other important people in the organization should be included next on the list.  Send invitations to your guests in plenty of time before the event.

      Ordering Awards

      If possible, order your awards at least a month prior to your event. This allows plenty of time for your order to be produced and shipped, with time to spare for any changes.  A little planning will help you stay on budget and minimize stress.  You’ll also save on shipping and rush order fees.  If you are presenting a number of awards, ordering a few extras may be helpful for any last minute changes.

      It is important to word the text on the awards carefully.  For ideas, visit our Engraving Information Page.  Also, it may seem obvious, but double-check the spelling of the names of your winners.  This small detail makes a big difference in how the recipient feels about their much-deserved award!


      It’s not necessary to provide food at an awards ceremony, but it is nice to include it.  Be mindful of your budget when deciding on the menu.  Many locations offer full service staff, linens, centerpieces, and catering services; check with your venue for options. One important detail with food is presentation.  Whether you are serving tea and cookies or a formal dinner, it should look and taste amazing. Have attendees communicate any special dietary needs or food allergies before the event.  This information should be given to the caterer so that they can plan accordingly.

      Most evening gala events begin with a cocktail hour, including appetizers.  After that, many will host a sit-down dinner, followed by dessert.  The program begins either during dessert or shortly after.  By starting the awards ceremony after dinner, the presenters and program do not compete with the meal.

      If you are short on time and would like to serve a meal, such as at a luncheon, attendees can eat as the program is occurring.  However, food can be distracting during the program and there is less conversation among guests.


      No matter the size of the affair, it's important to be organized and have a schedule of the timing of the different components of the event. Most recognition ceremonies have the awards portion at the end of the event.  This allows suspense to mount and excitement to build during the evening.  Also, most ceremonies start with the smaller, less glamorous awards first, with the larger, more impactful awards at the end of the celebration.


      If you choose to hand out programs, they should include a schedule of events.  Also, it’s nice to list all of the nominees, what award they’re nominated for, and what they’ve contributed to the organization.   If there’s a Lifetime Achievement Award, a bio about the person can be published in the program.

      Master of Ceremonies

      The Master of Ceremonies is the announcer who keeps the program running, thanks planners and sponsors and introduces speakers.  This person can also present awards, or can introduce the person/people who will be presenting awards.


      It adds interest to include a speaker. This person can be someone from within the organization or an outside expert.  Keep in mind that speakers from outside the organization may require a fee.  Be sure to view the speaker in action before your event to ensure that they’re engaging and entertaining to the audience.

      Tips for Presenting Awards

      The awards are best presented by the sales manager or a higher-level executive, such as a VP or CEO. Recognition is more meaningful from the leaders of the company. When presenting the award, emphasize the importance of the selected metric and how much the recipient excelled above and beyond it and why that’s important to the company.

      Regardless of who presents the awards, the person presenting should practice saying the recipient’s name prior to the event.  People appreciate having their names pronounced correctly, especially when receiving special recognition.  This will hopefully prevent awkward  moments during the ceremony.

      Audio/Visual Needs

      Many award ceremonies have music during the event, along with photos or videos of your organization or the awards recipients in action.  Be sure to include multimedia needs in your time line and budget if you plan to go that route.


      Hire a photographer or videographer to capture positive recognition during your celebration.  Not only will the recipients appreciate the photographs after the fact, but pictures make great PR for web sites, news releases, and other marketing materials.


      Themes are a great way to have fun with your event, let the personality of your organization shine through, and really make a lasting impression.  Many party supply stores and web sites sell great props for themed events.


      These can be as simple or as extravagant as your time and budget allows.  Many groups use the standard décor from the venue, but if you have a special theme for your ceremony, decorations can really make the event come alive.  Be creative!  Some festive decorations include balloons, banners, or flowers.

      Table centerpieces can double duty as a decoration or as a game for guests.  Consider including trivia cards about your organization or about the award nominees on the table, with answers to questions on the back.  The only limit is your imagination.

      Overall Planning

      Above are general things to consider when planning a corporate recognition ceremony.  Task lists with time lines for completion help keep details for the event organized.  Completing something each day makes the process more manageable and less overwhelming.   Consider forming a committee to help with planning, as this divides the work and brings more ideas to the project.

      Not only is an awards celebration a perfect venue for recognizing and rewarding outstanding performers, but it is also an opportunity to deliver key messages company wide.  Seize the opportunity to let your organization shine at your special celebration.

      Cheers! Jessica

    • Superbowl Sunday Chili Cook-Off

      Two weeks until the biggest football day of the year - SUPERBOWL SUNDAY! Want to enjoy the game, the ads, and the half-time show with friends and family? Then throw a party! One idea to heat up the day even more is to host a chili cook-off before, during, or after the game. Chili and Football go hand-in-hand, and a Superbowl party is the perfect opportunity to share yummy food with a little friendly competition.

      Below are the must have’s for any Superbowl Sunday Chili Cook-off:

      The Chili:  Have your guests bring their chili in a crock pot. At chili cook-offs I host, the rules are you can make any type of chili you want– beef, chicken, vegetarian, spicy, mild, with beans, without beans – pretty much anything goes, as long as it’s homemade. But other competitions have different chili categories and award a winner in each. For ideas of how to plan and judge a chili cook-off, see my previous blog posts.

      Chili Crocks
      Make it easy by having entries in crock pots.

      Winning Chili Recipes:  Here's my tip of how to win your cookoff:  look on the ICS web site for past chili cookoff winners and their recipes.  That's how we won our cook off this fall; why reinvent the wheel?

      The Chili Accompaniments:  Be sure to include the extras for the top of the chili. Shredded cheese, sour cream, diced onions, chopped tomatoes, and crushed tortilla chips are all things that can go on top of chili to enhance the flavor.

      The Snacks:  Even if you do a chili cook-off, don't forget the game day snacks. Chips and salsa, guacamole, nachos, cheese or bean dip, garlic bread, and cornbread all go great with chili. Cut up veggies with ranch or even a salad balance out the other junk so at least your guests get a little something healthy. And don't forget dessert! I personally like cookies, brownies, cupcakes - things you can eat with your hands, to keep dishes at a minimum.

      The Drinks:  Beer, lots of it.  Conserve fridge space and have a cooler with ice for the beer.

      The Awards:  We have lots of different options for chili awards on our web site. But to add some laughs at the party, I’d recommend one of our funnier trophies. Two of my favorites are The Golden Throne  and The Bomb Trophy .

      The Message:  Of course any award can be funny if you add witty engraving. Below are some ideas for engraving for your awards, some tasteful, others not so much...

      1. “We Wish You Hadn’t Entered the Chili Cook-Off” Award (this is the most popular saying for the Worst Chili Award)

      2. “Was That Really Chili?” Award

      3. Honorable Mention You will be in our thoughts later…

      4. Best Chili Overall Mighty Fine Cookin’!

      5. Hottest Chili Award Whoa!! That’s quite a fire!

      6. Hottest Chili Award It hurts coming and going!

      7. Hot A** Award Wipe my butt with a snowball please!

      8. Roadkill Award Was that meat?

      9. Exhaust Fume Award Chili with the most beans

      10. Wild Game Award Best of the Beast

      The Superbowl is a great excuse to get together with family and friends, and hosting a chili cook-off is sure to bring an unique twist to your party. But no matter what, Superbowl Sunday is all about hanging out with family and friends and having fun (plus the commercials)!

      Cheers, Jessica

    • Issaquah Trophy Partners with Heroes for the Homeless

      Issaquah Trophy & Awards has selected Heroes for the Homeless as the recipient for its Awards for a Cause program during the first quarter of 2013.  Since 2006 Heroes for the Homeless has been providing services to the most vulnerable citizens in the greater Seattle area.  They serve up to 700 individuals every month, providing food, water, hygiene supplies, clothing, tents, sleeping bags, and information on how to access social services.

      The HEROES who serve those most in need in Seattle.

      In addition to donations based on selected product purchases, Issaquah Trophy & Awards will be hosting a ‘Sandwich Making Event’ on Friday January 25th, 5:00pm in their showroom, 1320 NW Mall Street, in Issaquah. At this event a team of volunteers will make 500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that will be delivered to Seattle early the next morning.  If you'd like to help make sandwiches, please email [email protected]  We will also be collecting new, warm socks and travel-sized toothpaste, shampoo, soap and other toiletries.  Please drop any donations off at the showroom between 8:30-5:00, Monday-Friday, through the end of March.

      For more information on Heroes for the Homeless, visit  You can view their video Walking With Heroes to get a better idea of what they do and why we want to help them.

      Blessings, Anne

    • ARA - Awards and Recognition Association - Why Join?

      Today's blog post is about the ARA. What is it and why are we members?  What are the benefits?  And why should it matter to our customers?  I hope to answer these questions and more!  The Awards and Recognition Association (ARA) is the trade group for the trophy and awards industry, with 4000 members worldwide.  The ARA is:

      Awards professionals who can offer expert advice in designing recognition programs and provide quality awards and recognition products to consumers (That’s us!)

      Manufacturers and suppliers that provide products, technology and equipment to awards retailers.

      Many companies with a common purpose: to promote the public awareness of the use and benefits of quality recognition products and to educate its members in the areas of business skills and ethics, technical competence, product knowledge and marketing.

      Membership Benefits

      The ARA publishes a monthly newsletter, called the 'Recognition Review', has an informative and helpful website, provides technical training, and has a ‘Member to Member’ forum where awards business owners across the country can connect and share information.

      The ARA also advocates for the awards industry as a whole.  But the biggest advantage to membership is free attendance to the annual ARA International Awards Market in Las Vegas. Jeff, Tom, Anne and I are headed to this event at the end of the month.

      The Main Event - ARA Trade Show

      What is so great about the ARA Show?  Our team visits the trade show exhibits to find new products for our website and showroom.  We make a list of product lines that need refreshing, along with engraving equipment or parts that need replacing.  Then we scout the show floor looking for new items that fill these needs.  For example, this year we will be looking for teacher awards, mid-price fantasy football trophies, and clocks made in the USA.

      We also enjoy networking with our suppliers.  Most are at the show, and it’s great to visit with them face-to-face.  We also like meeting other trophy & award shop owners across the country.  We belong to an industry group called ‘Recognition Roundtable’ where awards retailers share ideas and help each other in their businesses.  Even though they are our competition, our philosophy is working together and sharing ideas to boost the industry as a whole helps us all.

      The last reason we like the Vegas ARA event is because of the recognition the ARA gives to its members.  Many awards are distributed at the Gala at the end of the trade show, and it’s an honor to receive recognition from our peers.  In 2010, Trophies2Go received the ARA ‘Website of the Year’, and in 2012 Issaquah Trophy received the ‘Large Retailer of the Year’ award.  The ARA also gives scholarships to students across the country and recognizes a premiere college athlete with their Sportsmanship Award.

      We value our membership in the Awards and Recognition Association and are grateful for the good work this group does to help promote and grow the Awards and Recognition Industry.  We look forward to seeing all of our friends in Vegas!

      Cheers! Jessica

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