Fun Graduation Party Ideas to Keep You Top of Class

Graduation from high school or college is a monumental achievement that deserves to be celebrated in style!

From invitations to decorations, we have a few fun graduation party ideas and tips that will help make the day extra memorable.

Use Creative and Exciting Invitations

grad notecards There is no better way to reach out to friends and family and set the tone of a graduation celebration than to use creative invitations. Invitations do not have to be costly to be high quality or grab attention.

There is a huge range of specialty notecards, invitations, and postcards that you can personalized for your event and ensure that family and friends

Choose Foods That Encourage a Social Atmosphere

Food brings people together and adds a festive element to the celebration. Choose foods that embrace the social nature of a party by selecting menu items that do not require too many utensils or ones that do not need to be eaten while sitting down.

Try a menu that lets guests roam and enjoy one another, or ones that make meal creation as part of the fun, such as DIY kabobs, or a burrito bar.

Get Crazy with Desserts

Desserts on Pinterest

Deserts are always the hit of any party, so why not get crazy with them?  This is the perfect opportunity to break out all of the fun desserts you’ve saved on Pinterest and try them….all!

Consider Non-Traditional Themes

Sure, graduation can mark the entrance to adulthood or the beginning of a new career, but it does not mean you have to leave out the fun. Why not consider party themes that remind you of the fun that life offers?

Try a surprise Nerf or squirt gun war, or a retro party that embraces the graduate’s favorite things from the past.

Decorations can do Double Duty


Make your decorations do double duty and serve as a backdrop for pictures.  A wall of streamers or balloons for example, not only adds a festive feel, they also can make the perfect backdrop for your photos.

Provide a few props and get the cameras ready for that picture perfect moment!

Paper Direct helps your celebrations stand out with uniquely fun designs. Check out our design gallery to find some inspiration!


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Beautiful & Affordable Weddings: The Invitations

wedding invites There is just no getting around it —weddings are expensive.

From the cost of the dress to the cake and flowers, the expenses add up quickly. That is why saving where you can is just so important.

If you are planning your wedding, here are some smart ways to save on invitations.

wedding-invite Avoid Upgrades

Things like envelope liners, bows, multiple layers of paper, and custom details can really add up. Avoid the unnecessary upgrades or modify your choices to reflect more affordable options.  For example, if envelope liners are a non-negotiable for you, try buying the paper in bulk and cutting to size yourself.

Keep Postage Costs Down

When choosing invitations, choose ones that are most affordable to send. Avoid things like heavy, multi-layered designs that when placed in an envelope with the RSVP and additional envelope end up weighting much more than expected. According to the US Post Office website, there are some additional ways postal customers incur an additional $0.13 surcharge per envelope including:

  •         It contains wood or other rigid material
  •         It has an address parallel to the shorter dimension of the letter
  •         The envelope is square versus rectangle
  •         The envelope has clasps, buttons, or strings
  •         The envelope contains an object making the surface uneven
  •         The envelop has closures such as buttons, clasps, or stings

Order Early and Order Extra

By ordering your wedding invitations early you avoid a costly rush fee. When you order extra, you avoid having to re-order if you miscalculate how many you need or misaddress any of the envelopes.

Design Them Yourself and Order Online

Ordering wedding invitations online can save a bundle over traditional printers. Paper Direct offers amazing and affordable DIY wedding invitation ideas designs. Even better, you can also order matching place cards, napkins, and programs for substantial savings.

DIY Wedding invites

Saving on your wedding invitations does not have to mean compromising on amazing quality and design. With these tips, and help from Paper Direct, you are sure to have an affordable wedding!

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Office Award Ideas Inspired by the 90s

It’s time to take a step back in time. You know, when MTV played music videos and MC Hammer balloon pants were cool. For your next company awards recognition party, slip on your vintage jelly shoes, don that side ponytail proudly and dig out your New Kids on the Block cassette tape. Here’s six office award ideas inspired by the fabulous 1990s!

Office Award Ideas  Inspired by the 90s

Teen Spirit Award

Send the most upbeat, spirited employee into a state of nirvana with the Teen Spirit Award.

This employee is bubbly, happy and remembers nearly everybody’s birthday with a card and homemade treats!

Saved by the Bell Award

Is there a key person in the office who somehow seems to come up with fabulous ideas at the last minute?

They deserve the Saved by the Bell award for keeping the team afloat during tough times, much like your best buddy from high school.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Award

It takes a team to get things done. Is there a powerhouse female duo who keeps your full house running smoothly? They deserve the Mary Kate and Ashley award for being the stars of the work day show.

Wayne’s World Award

For the men, consider the Wayne’s World Award. Do you have a Wayne and Garth who work together seamlessly, add personality to boring presentations or simply keep the office smiling with their jokes and antics? This award is just for them!

Chris Farley Award

Perhaps one of the best known Saturday Night Live comedy skits of the 90s was Chris Farley’s motivational speaker parody. If you have an employee who is always sharing kind, helpful words to make meeting deadlines and projects easier, this recognition is perfect.

Power Ranger Award

You all know that person in the office who fights, fights, fights to get ahead and get things done. They may play down their gusto by wearing a colorful mask, and have a powerful team behind them, but they’re already ready to dive in headfirst and do what it takes.

They’re a true Power Ranger!

The Fresh to Death Award

In West Philadelphia born and raised…

The Dial Up Award

If there is someone in the office that is always running late, give them the dial up award for their slow behavior.

Sporty Spice Award

If there is a marathon runner or fitness guru in office, present them with the Sporty Spice Award. Other Spice Girls include:

  • Ginger Spice
  • Posh Spice
  • Scary Spice
  • Baby Spice

Go 90s!

The 90s

After you’ve figured out who gets what award, it’s time to start creating festive certificates. Paper Direct has several templates and paper patterns to choose from. Get started online today!

Image courtesy of Buzzfeed 

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Recognition VS Rewards: The Difference & Why You Need Both

Candy Awards by PaperDirectMost companies are well aware of how important it is to recognize and reward outstanding employees regularly. Saying “thank you” in a public way improves morale, decreases turnover and increases productivity.

However, the perceived cost of a formal recognition program can keep some businesses from implementing one.

The good news is that recognition and reward programs can be tailored to fit almost any budget. The key is to balance the two in such a way that works for both the employees and the bottom line.

Keep daily, weekly or monthly recognition efforts inexpensive yet meaningful; then reward your top performers with more expensive items on a quarterly or yearly basis.

Still need convincing that this is doable? Here are 10 low- or no-cost recognition ideas Tracery Gold Certificate by PaperDirectthat your employees will love!

Award certificates

Anyone will tell you that there’s just something special about receiving an award that you can display proudly in your workspace. PaperDirect has a variety to choose from, including foil-embossed Specialty Certificates that start at just $31.99 for a box of 50.

Encourage peer-to-peer recognition

Giving employees the ability to recognize each others’ efforts, both big and small, is a terrific motivator. This can be as simple as setting up a template online with the heading of “You’re a star because…” Employees fill out the rest, print it and present it.

Include a “Rock Star” column in your company newsletter

Ask employees to submit names of coworkers who have gone above and beyond. Make sure they include what the employee did that deserves praise.

Keep a kudos calendar

Hang a large format, dry erase calendar on your office wall. Then when someone does something great, write their name on the calendar, along with their accomplishment.

Post the name of the employee of the month/week/day in a public place

Is there an area to hang or display a sign in your business’s entrance? If so, this is the perfect opportunity to showcase outstanding staff members.

Write a thank you note

There really is nothing like receiving a handwritten, heartfelt note of thanks from one’s boss for a job well done.

Offer a long lunch

When things get hectic around the office, let hard-working employees have a little extra paid time in the middle of the day to run errands or just relax.

Hand out candy jar awards

With just a few inexpensive mason jars, a couple of bags of candy and some bright ribbon, you can create one sweet award!

Bring in donuts

This is an oldie but a goodie. Who doesn’t love to walk in the door in the morning and see fresh, free donuts waiting for them?

Give a traveling award

This can be a trophy or something more fun like a rubber chicken. Each week, pass the baton on to a different employee for something they’ve accomplished.

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Promote a Positive Environment with Middle School Recognition

Middle School Recognition

Successful teachers know that middle school recognition ideas are more than just simple certificates; they are tools that mean the difference in academic success.

One of the most important aspects of teaching middle school is creating a positive environment.  It is also the most challenging.

middle-schoolTeachers know that in order to support student advancement, they need to battle such things as student burnout and lack of motivation on a daily basis using the most effective tools available to them—  with recognition ranking at the top.

Everyone loves recognition, including students. That’s why genuine recognition is so important and valuable in the classroom.

If you are looking for some fresh ideas to recognize your students, here are some of our favorites.

Observational  Awards

One of the best ways to show students that you are tuned-in is by awarding recognition based on observations. Keep a list of positive achievements of each student, especially ones not directly related to scores.  Here are some observational ideas:

  • Most insightful answerAtaraxia Modern Certificate Papers by PaperDirect
  • Most creative essay
  • Best application of the lesson
  • Outstanding demonstration of leadership
  • Demonstrating inclusiveness
  • Outstanding determination
  • Daily Positivity
  • Organizational Awards
  • Most cooperative lab group
  • Best demonstration of problem solving
  • Successful time management
  • Best use of tools such as asking for help, study aids, library
  • Most willing to try new things
  • Productivity awardsFantasy Stars Modern Certificate Papers by PaperDirect
  • Most complete classroom notes
  • Best demonstration of humor
  • Most enthusiastic
  • Class/school spirit
  • Most interactive
  • Fostering class discussion
  • Most compelling question
  • Stump the teacher
  • Art that inspires
  • Incredible computer skill
  • Reading for fun
  • Patriotism
  • Fostering unity outside the classroom

The best thing about using observational awards for middle school recognition is that the list can go on forever because unique student achievement never ends.

Beautiful certificates are lasting and meaningful for students, they help improve the learning environment, and help shape a positive future for the students.

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The 10 Personality Traits of a Great Boss

Most of us can name one or two bosses we’ve had that we would move mountains for. These people seem to be able to effortlessly juggle the demands of upper management with the needs of their staff.

While some may be born with innate leadership qualities, most of us have to learn how to manage over time.

If you are in a position of authority and strive to be someone others look up to and respect, take a look at the list below to see how you measure up.

Great bosses:

Recognize and leverage employees’ strengths.

strengthIn corporate America, individuals are often pigeon-holed, expected to do the same job and the same level. This results in inefficiency and low morale.

Great bosses are able to determine each person’s strength and put it to use in ways that are good for everyone.

Communicate clearly.

Too many bosses expect their subordinates to be mind-readers, assuming everyone understands what they are to do. This leads to confusion and lowered productivity. True leaders clearly articulate expectations, goals and job duties.

awardReward hard work and initiative.

Great bosses never take it for granted when employees go above and beyond.

They find ways to show their appreciation, from verbal praise to the presentation of formal awards.

Maintain consistency.

Employees should never have to guess what kind of mood their boss will be in on any given day. Nor should they have to worry that the rules will change midstream.

Encourage feedback and suggestions.

Great bosses understand they don’t have all the answers. They value their employees’ insight and contributions, implement the best ideas, and give credit where credit is due.

be-flexibleAre flexible without being pushovers.

Not everything always goes according to plan. Great leaders understand and make accommodations when necessary.

At the same time, they set the bar high for their staff and encourage them to surpass it.

Can admit when they’re wrong.

All humans make mistakes and great bosses understand that it’s okay to admit when they’ve made an error.

timelyPromptly address and resolve conflict.

Discord within a team can erode trust, create tension and reduce productivity.

While some bosses expect their employees to “work it out,” the great ones address and resolve conflict before it has a chance to become destructive.

Stand up for their team.

Those in management have an obligation to hit certain goals and appease higher-ups. To that end, it can be tempting to throw employees under the bus in order to meet those goals. Great bosses recognize when an expectation is unfair to their team and goes to bat for them.

Treat each team member fairly.

True leaders don’t play favorites. They don’t set different rules for different employees or hold them to different standards. Although they may have to be tough sometimes, their employees trust that they are always being treated fairly.

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Top 5 Reasons Employees are Staying

One primary goal of every business owner is employee retention. After all, it often costs less to maintain a content staff than it does to find, onboard and train new employees. So, what are the top reasons why employees stay at their jobs? Let’s find out!

1. They feel engaged.


Although employees appreciate workplace incentives like a free cafeteria and daytime childcare, what really keeps them coming back day after day is the feeling that their contributions to the company truly matter.

Employees who feel engaged in the workflow process and connected to their co-workers stay at their job the longest, according to Gallup’s Business Journal. When you feel like you’re a vital part of the process, you also want to be part of the solution and therefore be involved in product or service development and execution.

A feeling of engagement has been linked to higher productivity, customer satisfaction and profitability, according to Gallup.

2. They can explore their interests.


When an employee feels truly engaged in the company’s objectives and daily processes, they have a desire to think strategically. They want to explore interests and discover more, according to Entrepreneur magazine.

This may lead an employee to discover they have a talent for doing tasks in another department within in the company. If management is open to letting them explore this interest — and possible opportunities that arise — the employee feels content and nurtured.

From the management’s perspective, it’s better to find the right fit for a current employee than to start from scratch by trying to fill an open position or force an existing employee to try to find happiness in a role that simply doesn’t suit them.

3. They are challenged.

Day after day of coasting through life gets, well, boring. And that’s when employees usually look for something a little more stimulating or challenging.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article about keeping employees happy, it’s suggested that employees don’t always care for the easy way out. They crave opportunities to use and develop new skills, test their abilities and solve difficult problems. They want their limits stretched and then rewarded when goals are met.

And, they want these challenges to be ongoing. The satisfaction an employee feels from accomplishing something difficult drives them to take on bigger and more difficult tasks. This momentum equates to job satisfaction and increased productivity.

4. They are content.


When employees feel engaged, needed, challenged and that they’re using their skills day in and day out, they have an overall feeling of happiness. They are content with the work they do.

Of course, being too content can lead to complacency, according to a Bloomberg Business Week article. That’s what driving employee engagement and continually asking employees to think about projects from new perspectives and give input on projects is key.

Management professionals need to hone the delicate ability to keep employees actively engrossed in the company’s operations without making the tasks unmanageable or too mundane and routine.

After all, happy content employees project their feelings into customers — which are hopefully satisfied as well.

5. They own their products and services.


Employees who feel like they own the place, not just work there, are much happier and likely to stay put in their position, according to Forbes.

Helping staff really get close to the items the company makes and sells is crucial. Keeping them in the loop on all stages of product development and launch plans helps them own the product just as much as the owners of the business.

When an employee feels like they are promoting or selling a product that they have been an integral part of developing or polishing, they don’t want it to fail. Period. They find happiness in seeing the product succeed and gain popularity, which makes an employee stick around for the long haul.

Assessing Your Company’s Staff

Are you wondering why your employee turnover rate is increasing? Be proactive and learn more about the intentions and direction of your staff. Hire a consulting firm to professionally survey the team for several attributes including current contentment levels and what their future dreams and aspirations include.

If many of the employees have goals that veer away from the company objectives, they may be on the way out the door anyway. But some will show signs of feeling disengaged, bored or undervalued. Those are issues that can be turned around over time with new management directives and company objectives.


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Why Peer to Peer Recognition is Just as Important as Top Down

certificateCompanies that have a recognition program in place are doing something right. These programs increase employee satisfaction and reduce turnover rate substantially.

However, a study conducted by Bersin by Deloitte found that 87 percent of recognition programs focus on tenure rather than performance.

This type of recognition is a holdover from the days when people stayed with a company for 20 or 30 years. These days, though, most employees stay with an employer for an average of 4.4 years. And that is expected to decrease as more and more millennials enter the workforce.

If companies want to retain good employees, their recognition programs need to change with the times.

rewardWhen revising tired old recognition programs, implementing peer-to-peer recognition is a smart place to start.

Why? Because the same study mentioned above also found that employees feel “much better when recognized by their peers.”

Top-down recognition programs can come across as political. The employees who are in the trenches may feel that they will never catch the attention of top management. So for them, there is no real incentive to work harder if they don’t think they have a chance be recognized.

work celebration However, peer-to-peer recognition programs open up the field for anyone to nominate and recognize anyone else within the company. And when someone receives such an award from one’s peers, it also holds more meaning and carries more weight.

Ready to implement a peer-to-peer recognition program? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Get input from employees

This is an essential first step. Ask employees what they’d like to see in a recognition program. What kinds of achievements would they like to recognize? What type of awards would they like to receive themselves? You may not be able to do everything they suggest, but it will give you a good idea of what they find motivating and valuable.

Put together a diverse committee

Make sure all levels in your company are represented on the selection committee. It defeats the purpose if employees nominate but the final selection is made by management.

Get creative with awards

awardFirst, always make sure that the employee receives a certificate and other award that they can display in their work spaces. These can then be supplemented with other creative, out-of-the-box incentives. For example, maybe the employee gets a special parking place or a month’s worth of java at the local coffee shop or a gift certificate for a well-deserved massage.

As always, the more thought your company puts into recognition, the more appreciated and powerful it will be. And the more happy and productive your employees will become.

Contempo Modern Certificates by PaperDirect

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8 Senior Year Recognition Ideas

Graduation Certificate Bundles by PaperDirectOne of the most momentous times in a young adult’s life is their senior year in high school.  It represents the transition to adulthood and is the culmination of years of hard work. One of the ways to acknowledge this special achievement is by incorporating senior recognition ideas into the celebration.

Senior recognition ideas help graduates know that their efforts were noticed and worthwhile.  It also helps them know that they are truly valued and provides wonderful inspiration for their future endeavors.  If you want to celebrate your senior, here are some memorable recognition ideas:

Newspaper Ad

Surprise your senior with a congratulatory ad in the local newspaper. Not only is it a great way to shout from the rooftops, the newspaper also becomes a precious keepsake.

T-shirt Quilt

T-shirt quiltIf you’re unfamiliar with what a T-shirt quilt is, be sure to check them out! Basically, you compile all of your student’s t-shirts from over the year (Soccer clubs, committees, homemade, etc) and create a quilt. It’s the perfect gift for remembering your high school career without lugging all your t-shirts around.


There is no better way to call out special achievements than with certificates of merit. Certificates can be casual and fun, or even something inspiring!

Slide Show

Slide shows can be the perfect mixture of showing your senior how far they’ve come, while getting to slightly embarrass them while you brag!

Photo Album

Mark the milestone with a photographic timeline of lifetime achievements. To make it extra special, have friends and family add captions about their memories of the graduate.


Piano Wood Shooting Star Award by PaperDirectCustomize a trophy with something special about your graduate.  You can make the inscription funny, or something serious. Either way it will be a special reminder of their accomplishments as well as how proud you are of them.

Target Gift Card

Take your recent grad dorm shopping to buy funky chairs, shag rugs and mini fridges. Also, be sure to stock them up on their favorite snack for college.

Senior Trip

Whether you take them on a extravagant trip over seas or a weekend camping trip, having one last hoorrah before senior year is over is important.

The senior year is filled with endings as well as new beginnings. Senior recognition ideas help make every moment of this time stand out.

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Why Freelancers Still Need Business Cards

Add Your Own Design Business Cards by PaperDirectCall it whatever you want. Freelancer. Entrepreneur. Contract worker. Solopreneur. Small business. When you’re a fabulously self-employed person, you must never miss an opportunity to connect with a possible customer.

Networking is the pathway to growing a business and building resources; you need a few tools in your arsenal. Sure, you have a professional profile on LinkedIn and share behind-the-scenes updates on your Facebook business page. But, there’s one key business document you must never leave home without: business cards.

6 Reasons Business Cards Rock for Freelancers

They may seem a bit old fashion in this day of smartphones and tablets, but those little wallet-size pieces of paper are truly magical.

Business Cards let you Network Anywhere, Anytime

There’s no more, “Hey, don’t forget to look up my website when you get back to the office.” conversations on a busy subway platform where it’s too congested or cold to dig out your phone. Exchange cards and follow-up with one another later.

Speaking of Exchanging Cards, this Method of Networking is a Two-way Street

If the recipient doesn’t reach out to you promptly, you have their details for a smooth, natural follow-up. Plus you have a conversation starter. “Remember when we met in person at …”.

Think of a Business Card as a Tiny Reflection of Yourself

It can be colorful, creative, professional, whimsical — or even have a joke printed on the back. After meeting someone, that little card becomes a snapshot memory of your initial meeting.

Pictures Speak Volumes

If you want someone to really remember who you are, hand them a business card with a photo of yourself, logo or product on the front. Next time they run into you or see your product online, there’s instant recognition.

Finally, business cards rock because they stick around

Camera Lens Business Cards by PaperDirectThey get put on a desk, stay in a purse or get tucked into a coat pocket. That almost always ensures they will get seen again (unlike an electronic message) and again. As a freelancer, it’s great to be at the top of someone’s mind beyond the initial connection.

So, is it time to get a fresh stockpile of business cards to keep handy? Paper Direct can help you design business cards online or stock your home office with printable business card sheets and a cutter to create your own. Never miss another opportunity to network with a possible customer again!


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