Celebrate Your Successes

The end of year celebration event provides a bakery with the unique opportunity to celebrate success and to reflect on the year that was – and to look to the challenges ahead.

The festive season also provides the opportunity for leaders to undertake some team building activities that will reinforce their culture and enable them to gain insights on how everyone fits together. Try this secret santa game at this year’s function (or next year’s if you got in early) to involve everyone from all departments equally in a entertaining game, have lots of fun and do something memorable.

Typically businesses hold Christmas parties which are either enjoyable, memorable events or hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. At Brumby’s we used the secret santa “kris kringle” gift exchange for our party. The first year we ran this process we asked each team member to buy a secret santa present for one other (secretly nominated) team member of around $10 in value.

At the Christmas function the presents were handed out so each person was able to observe whether their present was valued by the recipient. We observed there were different levels of effort applied to the gift giving process and some people seemed disappointed with their gift as not everyone put in the effort. It was also evident this ‘usual’ secret santa process was over too quickly and short on entertainment, so we decided to ramp it up.

We therefore devised a new recipe for the kris kringle system, which we called ‘predatory presents’. We asked each team member to spend $10 on something they would like for themselves. All the wrapped presents were placed in a central area at the function centre. Everyone’s name was placed in a hat and drawn out one at a time.

The first person drawn would usually pick out the most intriguingly-sized present and open it in front of everybody. Everyone would focus on the present opener to gauge their reaction, either positive or negative.

Each person would do the same in turn; however once they had opened the present and considered its value to them, they had the option if they did not like it or had seen something better to exchange it for one of the presents already opened by another person. It was often difficult to figure out which was the most prized present.

The tension built as each person had their turn and the last person drawn from the hat would slowly walk around the room considering which present to acquire (or which score to settle)! With upwards of 30 people in the room, this activity was the main focus for the night and as chief executive officer I was able to observe lots of by-play and very interesting character traits. I also observed that late at night, people would sometimes swap their presents most amicably.

One of my former senior managers Michelle Sprenger provides her thoughts:

“Our traditional Christmas gathering was the time we got to celebrate the year’s success as a team, the highlight of the evening being the secret santa game. A lot of thought was put into the $10 unisex gift that might become the hottest sought after item of the night. All you needed was the luck of being one of the last names out of the hat and any item was yours, be it a pink cowboy hat, garden hoses, cow ice cream scoops or a bottle of rum. It took a lot of skill to hide a keeper or haggle to get rid of the booby item you had chosen.”

“The fun and laughter could only be experienced by those who truly enjoyed working hard together as a team and achieving results! Our Christmas party would not have been the same without the build-up of the secret santa game.”

The lessons from my experience are to create fun activities that are highly engaging and memorable for all the right reasons. Moreover, these cool activities become an integral part of the company culture by reinforcing the positive aspects of working hard together as a team, enjoying each other’s company and developing loyalty.

These shared experiences lead to the development of the business as a place where everybody wants to be, resulting in preferred employer status. Build and invest in your business culture; it will pay big dividends.


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