Iíve attended my fair
share of office Christmas parties. And over the last 12 years of owning my
own business, Iíve given my fair share of office Christmas
And finally, I figured out how to do it
Office Christmas parties are a scary
proposition. "Office" and "party" just donítí seem
to go together. Personalities take a beating. That wild, wise-cracking,
fun-loving clerk in your purchasing department gets thrown into a
different arena at the party and suddenly turns into "the dullest
human being on earth."
This year, I was determined to try
something different. I wanted everyone to loosen up, and since forcing
every attendee to slam down five shots of tequila before entering the
party seemed inappropriate, I had to think of something else.
First I hired a numerologist, gave her
everyoneís birthdate, and had her write each employeeís fortune for
1993. Then I announced our First Annual Talent Show would be held at the
office Christmas party. When that drew a collective yawn, I added there
would be a $150 prize for first place, $50 for second, and $25 for third.
Out of 45 employees, one signed up. The
Talent Show was in jeopardy. Luckily, I had a thought Ė in true
Christmas spirit, I ordered my managers to perform.
"What will I do?" cried
Ralph, my general manager. "I donítí have any talent."
"Iím well aware of that," I
"Iíll just make a fool of
I gave him a good show-business pat on
the back. "Exactly."
The other managers were no different.
Some steadfastly refused to do anything, claiming it would be a cold day
in hell before they got up and performed.
The night of the party, last Wednesday,
was hellishly cold and bitter. We took over the back section of a local
restaurant. After everyone arrived and had a few cocktails (Ralph seemed
especially thirsty) we sat down to dinner.
The group still seemed inhibited,
although they seemed to put their inhibitions aside for a moment when the
waiter took their order. Or is it a coincidence that 99 percent of the
group chose the most expensive entrťe on the menu?
As I made my rounds making sure
everyone cleaned their plate (cost control), I tried to drum up some
excitement for The Talent Show.
Enthusiasm, shall we say, hadnít
peaked at that point. I got the feeling that, given the choice, a few of
our newer employees would have preferred to finish the free meal and bolt.
Finally, dinner was consumed and it was
time for the festivities to begin. And at that point I brought out the
single most important contribution to the overwhelming success of the
Why did I wait so long? Thereís
something about a microphone that brings out the beast in certain people.
It also changes the atmosphere of a room. Whether there are two people
listening or 200, a microphone adds a sense of importance and, in our
case, a sense of absurdity.
I was the warm-up act. My job was to
read the fortunes of a select few before they were distributed. It was my
pleasure to notify Maria that a careful analysis of her birthdate showed
that she would find true love in 1993. She would discover someone who
truly cared about her, and probably get married. Her husband, sitting next
to her, was not nearly as amused as the rest of us.
After a few more fortunes, I got The
Talent Show rolling by launching into a sizzling rendition of that
show-stopping song, "The First Noel." Men were jeering, women
were carping, eggs and tomatoes were flying. The Talent Show was off to a
Ralph was next, with a slapstick routine he
did with Clyde, our new marketing director, and Ms. Ferguson, my loyal
office manager. And Ralph thought he had no talent. That man can take a
pie in the face with the best of them.
Other managers, realizing they could do
no worse, gave it the old company try. And when the warehouse crew jumped
up, grabbed the microphone and performed what they called The Warehouse
Rap, I knew the party would go down as the best ever.
When it came time for everyone to vote
for their favorite act, it was clear that inhibitions were gone for good.
Otherwise, Iím sure I would have
received at least one vote.