Bodega Party in a Box is finally in print!! You can buy it here. I’ve donated design time for project for many months, and am really happy with the outcome. The Bodega Party in a Box was designed for the Neighbors Project, a nonprofit devoted to improving urban neighborhoods.

The kit’s contents help you throw a party using ingredients from your local bodega (corner store). Bodega Party in a Box encourages people to patronize local businesses, and meet their neighbors. Sales of the kit benefit Neighbors Project initiatives, including the Food & Liquor project.

The kit contains a colorful, entertaining cookbook,

readingbook, originally uploaded by kthrnhdg.

8 fun party invitations and envelopes,

a stylish screen-printed reusable shopping bag,

and genuine bodega flag decorations!

flagtugofwar, originally uploaded by kthrnhdg.

The cookbook features recipes contributed by food-loving contributors, many of them food bloggers,

as well as Chef Daisy Martinez (BoriquaBlog and One spread also features an essay by Chef Daisy about her own memories of bodegas.

Fun sections like "Anatomy of a Bodega,"

and "10 Things That Make a Great Bodega" round out the book.

The kit’s design is inspired by all the great visual language you see at corner stores everywhere. Independently owned, they often have unique signage, and hand-written text describing delicacies. In my neighborhood, San Francisco’s Mission District, there are many Latin and Asian Bodegas with items like fresh tamarind candy, durians, and Argentine dulce de leche. Some practically explode with hot colors and graphics. I love all the fruit bins, cell phone ads, old ATMs, etc. that give each store its personality.

The recipe book takes you on a walk through the bodega. The book’s grid is based on the dimensions of your corner store’s freezer, with milk, eggs, soda, and other items on the the "shelves." Shelf fronts tell you page numbers and credits instead of prices, and sale signs show recipe titles. Scrawled handwriting conveys recipe titles and more. Throughout the book, quotes and snippets of advice from recipe contributors add voice and personality.

Researching the project, I became fascinated with Mexican cut
paper art, and found that many world cultures have a tradition of such art. I created a cut paper-like motif that appears in Bodega Party in a Box items. It includes some
of the food items you might find at the corner store, or use at your party. The precise edges of the cut paper design contrasts nicely with the rough-edged high contrast photos.

One design challenge was the fact that our recipe photos and bodega snapshots vary widely in quality, sizing, lighting and style. And recipe text lengths varies a fair amount. The solution was the sort of "shaggy grid" design; it easily accommodates all types of photos and recipe lengths, providing cohesiveness and unity. It also helps convey the feeling of the stores. High contrast monochrome bodega photo treatments are forgiving, and the grid helps unite the food photos.

And creation of the kit was itself an experience in neighborliness — a collaborative process. Many people contributed recipes, and photos of their creations. Others contributed great bodega pictures. Chef Daisy gave a recipe and wrote a lovely bodega essay. Public relations goddess Jennifer Cohan is contributing PR help. Oscar Printing donated the beautiful, colorful invitation printing. Camputee Press did a
great job screen-printing the reusable shopping bags. New Leaf Paper contributed ALL of our lovely paper. Volunteers worked with Kit on spray-painting stencil experiments with the flags (it didn’t pan out this time; we may try it again later). The wonderful Food & Liquor team, of course, contributed their expertise. And SF’s Red Sea Market, and other stores let our team take lots of photos. Thanks for all your help!!!