Well, it’s that time again — as the term draws to an end and campuses empty out for Christmas vacation, colleges and universities across the country are publishing video greeting cards to wish their staff, students, donors and alumni all the best for the holidays. And so, as my own seasonal gesture of goodwill, I have compiled as many of these video greeting cards as possible in a second annual collection for your inspiration, delight, or just to help you while away that last day of work while appearing to be studying postsecondary marketing techniques! ;-)
If you missed the 2013 collection, it still appears here.
All of the videos described below appear in random order in the “Holiday Greetings” playlist on my YouTube channel (starting at #44 for this year’s crop), but here I have tried to sort them into some meaningful categories, put them in order of my own preference (more or less, within each category), and provide a very brief description so you can better decide which ones to watch. If you have created a holiday video this year that doesn’t appear here, it just means your channel mustn’t be on my YouTube subscription list yet — so please leave a comment with the link, and we’ll rectify the oversight ASAP.
Perhaps inspired by last year’s “WestJet Christmas Miracle,” several colleges and universities have organized random acts of surprise kindness to take students and others by surprise, to generate donations to charity or simply to spread some holiday cheer:
Perhaps the best I’ve seen in this category is Durham College‘s “Make it Merry” video, a real tear-jerker, featuring their “Team Experience” student bloggers. Toronto’s Virgin Radio invited nominations, and expectant mother Karley was presented with an entire roomful of necessities for her baby, due next month — from crib and high chair to dining room furniture and diapers. But Durham College added something else, too: free first year’s tuition, so that the mom-to-be can pursue an education.
Saint Mary’s University (Halifax) staged a lovely and simple event captured in this 2-minute holiday video: students and staff wrote in hundreds of personal commitments on a chalkboard that read, “This holiday season I will be…” The video captures plenty of laughter and smiling faces, some holiday greetings, and of course plenty of jingling bells.
Another impressive event orchestration comes from the University of Waterloo Faculty of Environment, which staged an elaborate holiday surprise for a class of 100 students, complete with awesome decorations, elves, candy canes and indoor “snow.” Students posed for holiday portraits and seem to have enjoyed the break from pre-exam stress.
The Student Life office at Humber College published a quick one-minute video of students and staff being encouraged to give gifts to complete strangers in the hallways of the campus, something like “Candid Camera” or “Just for Laughs.” Full marks for the idea and the effort!
Red Deer College‘s holiday greeting video also captures gift-giving on campus, but is staged: RDC mascot Rufus the Lion plays Santa Claus, distributing gifts from his big red sack (including coffees, thanks to the magic of video) .
The Students Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU) evokes the holiday spirit by interviewing volunteers about the “Season of Caring” initiatives, from the student food bank to cash donations for students in need, and gifts for the children of students. This month has seen plenty of college and university videos about volunteering, and about donors, but we’ll let this one stand for them all.
Several institutions have created clever (or almost clever) parodies for the holidays, or humorous skits for their e-greetings. Humour is dangerous and tough, and is usually pulled off best by students, but some of these seem to work well:
Thompson Rivers University’s Marketing & Communications department gives us a 60-second glimpse behind the scenes, from the first frantic text message to brainstorming the right image and words for a holiday greeting that gets the stamp of approval. Anyone working in marketing will appreciate the humour implicit in this one!
Sheridan College published a new 4-minute animated short story, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like S-Mas” (a sequel to last year’s video of the same title). This is one of the few holiday greeting videos to incorporate both Christmas trees and Hannukah menorahs…
I have to admit, I love the Sheridan Bachelor of Animation Students‘ holiday card even more — in just 25 seconds it captures the tenuous peace of family gatherings, and wishes us “may loved ones be outside of biting range.”
I appreciate the concept behind Bow Valley College‘s tongue-in-cheek holiday greeting video, in which president Sharon Carry explains how their programs can help with holiday preparations: AutoCAD to design the perfect gingerbread house, Negotiation Techniques to craft your letter to Santa, Electrical Inspection for Christmas lights, and more. “Lifelong learning for all, and for all a good life!”
The University of Waterloo School of Accounting & Finance audits Santa Claus, and asks “why doesn’t the North Pole Group go public?” With thousands of years of revenue growth, they should be ripe for a takeover: “We can generate revenue well in excess of their goodwill and happiness.” The supply chain and financing models are mysterious, and strangely, “magic seems to be covering inventory and labour costs.” Watch the video to find out their fate!
UBC’s student newspaper, the Ubyssey, published “36 Things to Do at UBC Over the Holidays,” some serious and ill-advised suggestions to keep yourself entertained on an empty and largely snow-less campus. Ideas range from warming up by a (videotaped) fireplace, to drinking your room-mate’s beer, and from building blanket forts in the library stacks, to having a snowball fight by yourself. Ultimately, they wish us a “Happy Christmahanakwanzika!”
The office of the VP Research at Carleton University released an amusing parody song called, “The 12 Days of Research,” including lyrics like “12 brilliant theories, 11 major grants, 10 industry partners…”. Daring and different, but it was probably a good idea to keep it to a single iteration of the list…
Memorial University of Newfoundland’s DELTS department scripted a new Christmas poem, “T’is the End of Semester,” narrated by their director in front of a roaring (CG) fire. The verses are sometimes halting and the scansion quite abysmal (like “if you have any questions, see our internal positioning document”), but production values are high and the director manages to keep a straight face throughout. “Elves” are hard at work throughout the institution, from client services to the mailroom, but with the number of scarves, hats and mittens worn at their desks, one gets the impression that perhaps the heat was out at MUN that day!
Jillian and Dan, two admissions counsellors from Toronto’s Tyndale University College, star in this comic Christmas greeting video that starts with antlers and winds up in a snow fight.
The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business offers “a step by step guide to the perfect snow angel,” along with their holiday greetings. It’s quirky and an interesting concept, but I found myself wishing they had introduced a little more detail to the four-step instructions… maybe next year!
Quite a few institutions have compiled vignettes of “on-the-street” (or “at-their-desk”) intercepts, getting quick sound bites from as many staff and students as possible, often set to seasonal music and interspersed with bloopers, outtakes and funny asides. For those institutions not wanting to take a chance on humour, but also not wanting a flat animated greeting card, this seems to be the safest approach to creating an engaging, fun video that involves plenty of people from across the campus. It has the added virtue of giving prospective students a sense of the campus atmosphere and a cross-section of the students there.
The University of Victoria published a 2-minute holiday video in which staff and students create and hang ornaments on a campus tree, in order to share their “holiday wish for the world,” ranging from “peace, health and friendship” and “All A’s for students,” to “deep fried pickles for everybody.” This may be one of the nicest examples of this genre, creating plenty of goodwill in a very compact video. On social media, students are encouraged to tag their wishes with #UVicHolidayWish.
St Francis Xavier University Athletics published a great 4-minute “X-Mas” video, asking their athletes what they want for Christmas. The answers range from new soccer shoes and Gatorade to world peace, from getting their whole family together to seeing the Loch Ness Monster. Some are still insistent that they want the Furby or Hot Wheels’ set they asked Santa for many years ago. (Viewer advisory: the rendition of “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” may scar you for life.)
Cape Breton University‘s holiday greetings video incorporates an animated greeting card with a series of staff and students describing what they love most about the holidays, in several languages and countries. A great example!
Dalhousie University‘s greeting video consists of on-the-street interviews asking staff and students “what’s your favourite thing about the holiday season?” From moustaches to onesies, gifts to food (especially egg nog, it seems), family and friends, and of course not coming in to work – the interviews are packed with outtakes, smiles and fun.
Queen’s University published a fun video greeting including students and staff in a variety of groups offering their best wishes, set to a variety of music including “Jingle Bells” on piano and several impromptu a cappella performances of Christmas carols. Students have some amusing wishes for each other, and messages for their parents.
Simon Fraser University‘s video card features staff and students offering holiday greetings in a wide range of languages, some upbeat background music, and puppies! (How can anyone follow the puppies?) Students and staff seem upbeat and genuine, the music is peppy and the effect is 90 seconds of goodwill.
Vancouver Island University‘s greeting video features large groups of staff and students wishing happy holidays in several languages, including a snippet of a new carol (sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells”), “VIU, VIU, it’s where we love to work.” (OK, maybe that won’t catch on…)
The University of the Fraser Valley extends its greetings in several languages, interspersed with shocking science experiments, carolling choirs, and even “reindeer” playing basketball and doing dental work.
The University of Regina Recreation Services office published their holiday wishes in the form of a series of impromptu interviews asking staff “what do the holidays mean to you?”, and some tongue-in-cheek advice for student success.
Ryerson University’s International Student Services office published a 5-minute greeting video that introduces the staff and some international students, and asks them about their experiences of the holidays in a wide range of home countries, and what they miss while they’re here in Canada.
Nipissing University‘s student recruitment team sends their best wishes to prospective students, and engages in a pretty intense snowball fight choreographed to the music. (Bare-handed no less!)
Lakehead University‘s Orillia Campus produced a holiday video that asks staff and students about the most exceptional part of their 2014 year. (Their stories range from orientation to helium balloon physics.) Then they describe their goals or resolutions for 2015 (and answers range from finding the snake lost in an office, buying a house, or graduating with honours).
Many PSE institutions have music performance programs, glee clubs, and talented students and staff willing to burst into song in front of a video camera. (Consider the infamous Yale student recruitment music video, to see the ultimate example.) There were also plenty of lipdub videos released this month by student groups (with a real predilection for Mariah Carey Christmas numbers, it would seem) but I have omitted them from this collection. Quite a few Canadian colleges and universities published recordings of their choirs or performance students as a holiday greeting video this year:
King’s University College at Western produced an elaborate video, almost 4 minutes long, with plenty of footage of campus, smiling staff and students, tied together by an introduction from president David Sylvester and a lovely performance of “O Holy Night” by the King’s College Chamber Choir.
The Queen’s University Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science created a holiday greeting video with the help of “All the Queen’s Men,” an all-male acappella group. Like so many greeting videos this year, they chose “Jingle Bells” as a non-denominational yet traditional song.
The University of King’s College (Halifax) choir published a live audio recording of their beautiful rendition of “Silent Night.” (The video is static.)
Cambrian College shared a lovely performance of Nicholas Myers’ “The Winter’s Night,” by their Music Performance students, interspersed with wintry images of their campus. (Cambrian reminds us they have “the only classical music performance advanced diploma program in Ontario.”)
St Clair College posted a 5-minute recording of music theatre performance students from their Performing Arts program, singing “O Holy Night” en masse (although it starts with a talented soloist).
Loyalist College Community Choir seems to have wandered the campus carolling, and of course it starts with “Jingle Bells.” But they have added a new verse, “Good luck on your examinations,” to the old favourite, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”
Perhaps the most traditional holiday greeting video is a personal message from the president, wishing staff, students, alumni and others a safe and happy holiday. Sometimes these risk turning into video annual reports to the community, of course, but the approach is personal and usually conveys warmth and sincerity too:
Trent University published a quick 50-second video of campus and students in a snowball fight, set to seasonal music and leading to new president Leo Groarke’s personal greeting. Quick, slick, and uplifting.
In Alan Shaver’s official “President’s Christmas Card” from Thompson Rivers University, he reflects on the month’s charitable activities by staff and students, from beard growing to parade floats and polar bear swims.
Mount Royal University‘s official holiday wishes video features president David Docherty in a Santa hat, inviting viewers to a quick tour of the campus (mostly in warmer seasons of the year).
Cheryl Jensen, president of Algonquin College, opens the video with her best wishes, but the video then segues into 2 minutes of music, singing and dancing by a wide range of staff and students across campus.
In this concise and professional holiday greeting video, University of Waterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur sums up the year quickly, mentioning the 23rd consecutive “most innovative university” ranking in Maclean’s, and the 7th consecutive ranking as Research InfoSource’s “leading comprehensive research university in Canada.”
St Lawrence College president Glenn Vollebregt sums up the year and conveys sincere best wishes for the SLC community in this video greeting, created with the student-run SPARK agency.
Briercrest College president Michael Pawelke begins his Christmas greetings video with several scripture readings on worship and the gifts of the Magi, before exhorting us to give not just presents, but of ourselves.
The absolute simplest video greetings are literally just animated greeting cards, with motion graphics, text, and some background music. Others include still photos of staff and students around campus, or campus under a blanket of pristine snow, but they remain essentially animated cards, while some have the production values of a feature motion picture:
OK, full disclosure: I’m a Western grad (and a UofT grad), but I don’t think I’m prejudiced when I say this is the nicest video in this category. Western University‘s 1-minute video greeting is an impressive CG-laden vignette with Tinkerbell-like magic fairy dust (in Western purple of course) spreading through the campus and the community. The music and tone seems to evoke Harry Potter. “May the year be filled with extraordinary possibilities.”
York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering created a heartwarming little vignette in which an engineering student creates an elaborate mechanism as a special gift to “make someone feel special” at the holidays.
Georgian College‘s video card is also one of the more distinctive this year, featuring macro (microscopic) photography of actual snowflakes by alumnus Don Komarechka. Like many of the greetings this year, it is set to an instrumental rendition of “Jingle Bells.”
Mohawk College‘s marketing department (with melodious support from voice and music students) created an animated holiday message in which the only character is a green pickup truck, and yet the warmth of the season still somehow comes across.
Fanshawe College‘s video card, set to an instrumental “Jingle Bells,” features footage of staff and students celebrating winter, hanging festive decorations, and seems to capitalize on the resemblance of Fanshawe’s new “north star” logo to a snowflake. (Personally, I’d like to see Fanshawe release a sparkly logo-shaped tree ornament…)
Royal Roads University depicts its campus in an animated style, perhaps experiencing more snow than it will see in the entire month of December…
Emily Carr University of Art & Design circulated an animated greeting card with snow gently falling on silhouettes of campus and the city skyline.
Jaia Konik posted an e-card she says won Niagara College‘s e-card competition, a lovely snowy animation of campus set to haunting, wintry music. (The card was designed by 3 students in NC’s New Media Web Design program.) No sign yet of NC’s official greeting video, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Acadia University‘s “Christmas Card” consists of jingling bells and softly falling snowflakes around the columns and stairs in front of University Hall.
Ryerson University‘s animated greeting card features an animated skyline, falling snowflakes, and seasonal music.
The University of Waterloo Co-operative Education and Career Action (CECA) office created a very simple animated holiday greeting message.
The Stratford Campus of the University of Waterloo released its own musical greeting card, featuring snapshots of staff and students making gingerbread cookies.
UBC’s Faculty of Science published a greeting video that sums up the year in review, from 8 new CRCs and 2 new FRSC fellows, to 50,000 people participating in Science outreach programs. LEDs on circuit boards make a unique holiday light display.
Nipissing University‘s animated greeting card is a watercolour rendition of the campus in snow.
In this very quick animated card, BCIT‘s president and board of governors wish us the best for 2015.
Lambton College‘s 7-second animated card uses the shape of a snowflake to convey their greetings and a sense of connectedness.
The vast majority of institutions posted their holiday videos to YouTube or Vimeo (making it very easy to integrate them into this page), but some posted only to their own website.
UBC‘s interactive greetings page allows the user to “shake” a snow globe for one of the two campuses, while listening to some spritely seasonal music.
The University of Toronto Mississauga posted Principal Deep Saini’s message here.
The University of Calgary built a greeting card engine that not only shares an animated greeting card using the “Eyes High” visuals of the strategic plan, but also allows you to create your own customized version of the card and send it to others. Check it out here.
Overall, there seem to be a lot more seasonal greeting videos this year than last — so far we’re at 55, when last year we had only 44 in all. I suspect we’ll have many more than that by the time the snow thaws… and of course, we’re seeing greeting videos specific to individual faculties, departments, offices, and campuses. Quality ranges widely, from slick professional productions to deliberately (let’s hope!) amateur and cheesy productions, off-key singing and blooper-filled dialogue. It seems that folks in PSE are feeling braver this year, and are willing to venture forth with something less professional and more fun.
Just in case we don’t get our own video greeting produced in time, let me take this opportunity to wish you a truly peaceful holiday season, so that you can come back to campus in the new year refreshed and invigorated!
Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas, and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
(And remember, if you have a holiday greeting not included above, please add a comment below!)
P.S. As new videos are submitted, we are adding them to the appropriate categories above (and, for YouTube videos, to the Holiday Greetings playlist).
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