Interesting Facts About Christmas!

Interesting Facts About Christmas!

Christmas is celebrated in many countries all over the world and in a wide variety of ways. Many of the customs and decorations we use to make the holiday special have developed in interesting ways and their origins may be hidden in history. With these interesting facts about Christmas, test your knowledge of Christmas trivia as you read through.

  • The image of Santa Claus flying his sleigh began in 1819 and was created by Washington Irving, the same author who dreamt up the Headless Horseman.

  • The Montgomery Ward department store created Rudolph the Reindeer as a marketing gimmick to encourage children to buy their Christmas coloring books.

  • Some leave food out for Santa Claus’ reindeer as Norse children did, leaving hay and treats for Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnir hoping they would stop by during their hunting adventures. Dutch children adopted this same tradition, leaving food in their wooden shoes for St. Nicholas’ horse.

  • Dutch children also left out food and drink for St. Nicholas himself to honor him on his feast day. Today we leave milk and cookies out for Santa, continuing this very old tradition.

  • America’s first batch of eggnog was made in the Jamestown settlement in 1607. Its name comes from the word “grog”, meaning any drink made with rum. Non-alcoholic eggnog is popular as well.

  • Bicycle, the U.S. playing card company, manufactured cards to give all the POWS in Germany during World War II as Christmas presents. These cards, when soaked in water, revealed an escape route for POWs. The Nazis never knew.

  • The Christmas wreath was originally hung as a symbol of Jesus. The holly represents his crown of thorns and the red berries the blood he shed.

  • The three traditional colors of most Christmas decorations are red, green and gold. Red symbolized the blood of Christ, green symbolized life and rebirth, and gold represents light, royalty and wealth.

  • In Poland spiders are considered to be symbols of prosperity and goodness at Christmas. In fact, spiders and spider webs are often used as Christmas tree decorations. According to legend, a spider wove baby Jesus a blanket to keep him warm.

  • Brenda Lee recorded “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” when she was only 13 years old.

  • Famous saxophonist Boots Randolph played the saxophone solo on “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”.

  • Paul McCartney’s Christmas song is widely regarded as the worst of all the songs he ever recorded yet he earns $400,000 a year off of it.

  • If you gave all the gifts listed in the Twelve Days of Christmas, it would equal 364 gifts.

They Do That?

They Do That?

Our group of companies has long enjoyed a great relationship with the Schaumburg Business Association (SBA). From being a regular contributor for event photography, to partnering with other members on some great projects, we’re thrilled to continue this wonderful alliance.

Recently, the SBA featured our brands in a “Spotlight” to their membership, and we’re happy to share a synopsis:

Curtis Newborn Photographic serves more markets than you think!

• A longtime staple of the SBA, Curtis Newborn Photographic (CNP) provides a broad array of marketing & creative services

• With a convenient, full-service Schaumburg location, we service clients throughout Chicagoland & the Midwest

• The brands under the CNP umbrella provide turnkey solutions to a wide variety of marketing challenges

Click below to visit the SBA’s website where you can learn more:



Okay, sometimes you need to explain to the boss why you've spent the money on an experienced photographer, rather than spending the money buying his son/daughter a new camera. This seems to particularly apply when it comes to the Corporate Headshot – seemingly such a straightforward and innocent task, yet so easy for it to go completely wrong, too.


Somewhat indefinable, until you see an amateur image, then it becomes immediately obvious. You will look at least as great as your competitors, and with the right photographer, a whole lot better.


An experienced photographer knows how to relate to a people, how to position them and crucially how to interact with them to not get that “cheesy grin” look, but instead something unaffected, poised and friendly.


And your professional photographer will make sure that what is seen is properly lit, properly positioned, properly composed. As well as using many and varied bits of equipment for lighting and lighting control, only their experience in handling equipment will create a vast difference. Depending on what you need they can bring a portable studio, maximizing the quality and your time. A simple portable studio can be used to capture photographs of all staff very quickly and efficiently.


Part of the job is making sure that all the pictures are captured within the opportunity obtainable and with smallest job interruption. An experienced photographer knows how to sequence and manage the workflow – to make the most of their time, and yours!


Your professional will sit down with you and your team, and talk over what kinds of photographs you need. Lawyers, bankers and financial folk need to look confident – but definitely not smug! Doctors, client reps, sales staff need to be approachable, friendly and experienced. Company directors need to be assured, but not distant.


Remember you get what you pay for and what you ask for, so be clear with your photographer about how the images will be used – for web, for press, for magazines, for publications, for PowerPoint. The photographer will capture and prepare the images in diverse ways depending on how they will be used. You can come to us to use our studio, or we have a full traveling studio so we can come to you. Let’s talk soon about your biggest photographic challenges!



Ready to improve your food photography? Here are some tips that cover the gamut from lighting, photography hacks, propping & styling, to the overall creative mindset.


Experiment With Different Heights

Experiment with height and creating different levels. Use a cutting board to raise up some of your scene. Place something on a cake stand or use glasses in different heights. You don’t even have to go higher, placing things on a wrinkled kitchen towel create texture and breaks things up by creating visual differences or layers. Adding height can create a natural frame that you can work off, especially if shooting straight on or at different angles.

Absorb Beautiful Imagery

Continually look at good food photography. 10-15 minutes a day spent absorbing beautiful images from blogs and searching on Pinterest really refreshes my creativity and inspires me to create through my own lens. My goal is to saturate my subconscious with images that make me sigh so that when I start shooting I know what will move me emotionally.

Capture Your Overall Vision on Paper

Plan out your ideas for your photo shoots by using sketches. Don’t worry about details, just create quick sketches to capture your overall vision on paper. When sketching, focus on the story you want to tell, think about the props to use, choose the color palette and make notes about the lighting direction and all aspects related to the composition. This will help you to bring to life the mental image you had when first planning the photo shoot and photograph it, instead of shooting away and hoping to get a good image in the process.

Use Negative Space

Give the viewer some room to breathe, i.e. don’t zoom in all the way, let there be some negative space in the picture. It’s soothing on the eyes and mind.

Find Your Dishes Biggest Strength

To help me when I am going to shoot it’s crucial to ask myself what is the biggest strength of that dish or food? Is it the freshness, the texture, the color, the shape? And, very important too, what kind of feeling does that food bring, can be comfort, freshness, coziness… This combination is what will move all of the work to the final picture, through light, angle and composition.

Decide On Your Angle Before You Begin Styling

Use a dummy and decide on an angle BEFORE you start styling. Too many times, we have started setting up the food and styled it – just to find out that the angle is not right – and we have to change it – and then do all the styling over again.

Make The Photo Yours In Some Way

Make sure you make the photo your own in some unique way. Give it a look and style that is reflective of oneself, and/or your brand, philosophies and attitude towards everyday life.

Draw Your Set-ups

A tip given by some of the top food photographers through the years is to draw your setups. Most professional food photographers have their preferred setup and they only adjust it to their subject. So drawing your setup gives you a “base” that you can build your studio session from, making sure that you and the photographer are on the same page from the outset.

Artificial Light Can Be Your Best Friend

We hear it all the time; “I only use natural light”, “natural light is the only light to use,” etc. I absolutely do not agree. We have seen other posts and articles online comparing natural light to speed lights, and the differences are almost not noticeable when done right. Using artificial light can make beautiful food photography possible at any time of day and in any conditions. It is consistent, predictable and always there for you even if it is pitch black outside.

In Closing

Think about what you are shooting, who your target audience is, what the goals of your marketing or advertising campaign will be, and then make sure you fully communicate those goals across the entire team BEFORE you shoot. The results will be tremendous!

9 Questions Interesting People Ask People They Meet

9 Questions Interesting People Ask People They Meet

It all starts with having a genuine interest in the other person.

I remember early in my career, one of my biggest fears walking into a networking event to schmooze or meeting someone for a business lunch was boring the other person to tears in conversation.

I didn't want to be the windbag who dragged on forever, so I learned to be brief, to the point, and actually listen to the other person with all my being. I eventually avoided the mistake of talking about polarizing topics like politics or race, and learned to stay neutral, positive, and upbeat.

I began to tune in to my body language and voice tone to avoid sounding monotone, or looking like a bump on a log. I trained my brain to show emotions, laugh at people's jokes, smile when they smile, and make light of awkward situations.

The biggest lesson I learned in conversations with others.

But the biggest lesson for ensuring that I was being an interesting person who drew others in came down to asking the right questions. I found that this is what triggered authentic responses in the other person.

By showing curiosity about someone's story, accomplishments, passions, or interests, the law of reciprocity usually kicked in, and I had my turn to shine. There was a bonus attached to this strategy: Persuasion increased, which helped me steer the conversation in the direction I wanted it to go.

But here's the key: If you're in a conversation at a work-related function, or meeting someone to talk business for the first time, your best move is not to ask business-related questions; it's to discover common ties with that person that will steer the conversation back to the "work stuff" later in the conversation, but with a deeper connection.

In other words, get to know that person! To really exercise persuasiveness and make a quick connection that may have mutual benefits (and possibly make a new friend), I'll leave you with these questions. Granted, some may not be your ideal, icebreaking conversational starters, so use your best judgment when and where to use them to deepen the conversation.

9 questions for having great conversations

David Burkus, best-selling author of three books and an award-winning podcaster, has contributed the first four questions on this list from an interesting article he wrote for Harvard Business Review. The others come from our research, along with what other entrepreneurs and great conversationalists recommend:

1. What excites you right now?

As Burkus explains it, this question can go in many directions (work life, personal life, etc.) with a wide range of possible answers that may overlap into your life or work, which will open up the conversation further. And asking it allows for the other person to share something that he or she is passionate about.

2. What are you looking forward to?

Similar to the last one, but this is more forward-looking, which, says Burkus, allows for the other person "to choose from a bigger set of possible answers."

3. What's the best thing that's happened to you this year?

Same technique as the previous two, but this one goes back in time for the other person to reflect on something pivotal that may have changed the course of his or her life. It also opens up a wealth of answers to choose from, which may overlap into some of your own areas of interest or expertise for further discussion.

4. What's the most important thing I should know about you?

Because it can come across as a little direct, this is certainly not your first question, and it may not even be your third or fourth, but it "gives the broadest possible range from which they can choose," says Burkus. Use it in context, listen for clues, and wait for the right timing.

5. What's your story?

One of my personal favorites, this is open-ended enough to trigger an intriguing story--a journey to a foreign country, meeting a famous person, getting funded for the startup of your dreams, a special talent used for making the world a better place, etc. It's a question that immediately draws in the other person and lets him or her speak from the heart.

6. What is one of your defining moments?

This is another great question that invites the speaker to share on a deeper level, which builds momentum and rapport quicker. Obviously, a few casual questions before it helps set the mood for hearing about a profound moment or transition in that person's life.

7. Why did you choose your profession?

This assumes that, at some point, you dropped the mandatory "What do you do?" question. As a follow-up, it's a question that will reveal multiple layers of someone's journey. It speaks to people's values, what motivates them, and whether their work is their calling. It may also trigger a different, more thought-provoking response: Some people aren't happy in their jobs. By asking, you may be in the position to assist or mentor a person through a career or job transition.

8. What are you currently reading?

You may have the same authors and subjects in common, which will deepen your conversation. Also use this question to ask for book recommendations. You may find the conversation going down the path of exploring mutual book ideas to solve a workplace issue or implement a new business strategy.

9. How can I be most helpful to you right now?

To really add the most value to a conversation, once a level of comfort has been established, ask the other person how you can be most helpful to him or her, whether personally or professionally. You'll be amazed how pleasantly surprised people get by that thoughtful gesture, and how responsive they are in their answer. Your genuine willingness, no strings attached, to make yourself useful to others leads to more interesting, engaging, and real conversations that may lead to future opportunities.

In closing.

Remember, when you approach another person in conversation, the skill you want to use right off the bat is to immediately show sincere interest in that person. This will pave the way for a smooth conversation that can go places.

Whatever questions you decide to use, the important thing is to always ask open-ended questions and to avoid work-related questions or business questions until much, much later in the conversation. You'll be surprised by how seamless the transition is to discussing business, conducting a sales pitch, or exploring partnerships once both parties are into each other. Try it, and let me know what you think.