Awarded for gift-wrapping photo

New Hampton Ace Hardware employee wins 'Ellen' prize

If you buy someone gifts at Schueth Ace Hardware in New Hampton, have them wrapped there.

They’ve got one of the “Most Gifted Wrappers” in the world, at least according to Ellen DeGeneres.

Ace employee Kelly Stewart was one of the top prize winners in a contest Ellen held during the Christmas season, as a part of her “15 Days of Giveaways” on  “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the syndicated daytime television talk show.

The contest — which was actually as much of a creative photo contest as it was a gift-wrapping contest — named one grand prize winner and five second-prize winners, and Stewart was one of the second-prize winners. There were also 15 third-prize winners. There were thousands of entries.

Stewart was in Waterloo on Wednesday last week when her phone rang, and she joked, “I bet it’s Ellen.” She then saw that the call was from Burbank, California, and she yelled, “It IS Ellen!” The short outburst created a small disturbance in T.J. Maxx.

It wasn’t actually Ellen, but one of her assistants.

“When I took the call, it completely blew me away, because I wasn’t expecting anything.”

Stewart is originally from Waterloo, has lived in Fredericksburg since 1993 and has worked at Ace Hardware in New Hampton for five years.

“One day I was watching the ‘Ellen’ show and she was explaining how the contest works and everything,” Stewart said. “And I thought, ‘I can do that!’”

Stewart went online and found out about all the details. Contestants were requested to submit a photo of a creatively-wrapped holiday gift by Dec. 29 for a chance to win as much as $15,000. It instructed contestants to wrap “tactfully-taped-together” presents, snap a photo of them, and submit the photo. The winning photos were determined based 50 percent on presentation (quality and aesthetic of the photo),  30 percent on originality (originality of the photo) and 20 percent on use of materials (use of any gift wrapping material in a creative manner). 

Stewart took a quick inventory of what supplies she had on hand, drew a sketch, and picked up some additional things to put into the photo.

“I got them all in New Hampton,” Stewart was quick to point out.

She used her sister as the model for the photo, which is a creative depiction of “tWitch,” Ellen’s popular DJ and sidekick, carrying a basket overflowing with wrapped gifts — and Ellen DeGeneres herself. Ellen is wearing a Santa hat while tWitch (Stewart’s sister in a tWitch mask) — wears an elf hat.

Also included in the photo, taken by a doorway, is a dog in a Santa hat, a holiday welcome mat and a poinsettia. Stewart knew the rules stated that the photo would be judged based on the quality of the photo itself, but she took a moment to cleverly appeal to the sponsor in the photo.


For more of this article, see Tuesday's Tribune.

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