Best Practice: Holiday Joy at Work

I attended the best office holiday party of my career last week, with over 100 people in attendance.  Here’s why:

  • An energetic and organized committee;
  • Frequent reminders / communications 3 weeks prior to the event;
  • It was potluck lunch:  the variety and quality of the food was fabulous, it was truly a feast (and no cost to the organization except the time used for the party, as we all prepared and brought the food, with minimal cost to us as individuals);
  • 3 hours were set aside for the event; plenty of plates, cups and utensils;
  • The party was held in a large training room, festooned with tinsel, bows and poinsettias brought from home and desks;
  • Jeffrey Jene, a talented friend of a friend, graciously stopped by and got the party started with our laughter and wonder at his great magic and comedy routine;
  • The laughter then reach a shared and hilarious crescendo with a White Elephant Trivia Swap, which was supplied by party-goers’ recycled / unwanted presents brought from home:  in order to obtain and open a present, you were required to answer a holiday trivia question.  Again, no cost to the organization or the attendees.

The White Elephant Trivia Swap was 2 hours of nonstop laughter, impromptu stand-up comedy and heretofore unknown fierce competition.

The Jewish kids in the room did not know the Hebrew month when Hanukkah always occurs (Kislev) and clearly need to go back for some remedial Hebrew school lessons.

It became clear to many of us in the room that we were frankly unfamiliar with the history / rituals of our respective holidays.

For some reason, I was able to extract the obscure fact from some dusty crevice of my mind that the first artificial tree was made out of goose feathers.  Other attendees had similar flashes as well.

And when a certain number of recycled presents were revealed, then the stealing began.  I love White Elephant Swaps for several reasons:  satisfying the “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” curiosity; learning how competitive (or not) people really are; and how there’s always one item that everyone in the room wants.

This party’s item was a $10 toy Ferris wheel from Wal-Mart that moved and featured tiny pretty multi-colored lights when turned on.  That Ferris wheel must have changed hands 30 times.  The competitive stealing and accompanying laughter was priceless.  And it didn’t end after the party:  one attendee who lost out at the Ferris wheel at the party’s 11th hour had a memento picture taken of themselves proudly holding the Ferris wheel.

Even more priceless was the shared experience of deep and genuine laughter sustained over good food during the holiday season at work.  All of these factors can coexist and converge joyfully, they are not mutually exclusive.  Especially how our morale soared and carried us for the rest of the week.  What a great holiday gift.

Happy holidays to you and yours:  and at work.


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