Happiness at work
The Office Christmas Party - DIY Style
The way any team party should be
written by Valentina Sokolova
Our Christmas party is not your typical company Christmas party - a big room, cocktails and finger sandwiches. Christmas is a family holiday, so we do it family style. We gather together for the whole day - the whole team and our significant others - we decorate, we cook, we eat, we drink, we watch movies, play games and spend genuine, calm, quality time with each other.
The morning starts with grocery shopping for a meal that we've already chosen. We have a huge list of things that we break down depending on what you can buy where and everybody gets a chunk. Then we hit the stores. Shopping around Christmas is always fun. Stores are full of decorations, Christmas chocolates and candy, cinnamon everything, packaging that is otherwise dull or ordinary is now festive. People are in puffy sweaters, with carts full of groceries, wine and their huge coats that are uncomfortable and hot to walk around in inside the store. You just know that everybody has the same thing on their mind - Christmas!
So we join the warm crowd and we gather the things we need for a big Christmas dinner.
We get together in one of our apartments and start decorating right away. We like having some decorations that you need to assemble yourself. Last year we had a few kits for making a Danish Holiday Star which were really fun to play with while drinking mulled wine.
While the decorating is happening the food committee starts cracking. We cook the dinner meal together - the main course, accompanied by a bunch of different sides and appetizers. Everybody helps with something and from back when we were living together we have a self-formed hierarchy of responsibilities. There's the head chef, who can actually touch the pans and pods with food cooking in them. Next is the badass who is allowed to mix the ingredients, monitor the cooking food and, in a timely manner, alert the head chef if something looks ready. Next, we have the guy who chops and prepares the ingredients. And last but definitely not least is the guy who twirls around with a mop keeping the creative mess contained. Just because the food is cooking, doesn't mean there's no food on the table or all over the place. Everyone is allowed (encouraged) to bring something Christmasy they made.
Cake, cinnamon cookies, gingerbread, muffins, chocolate brownies... even if it isn't Christmasy actually - we never say 'no' to something tasty.
A little before dinner - it's time for gifts. Instead of doing Secret Santa, we play a game. Each of us buys a present - we put a limit of about 10-15$ - and wraps it - really well, so that you can't guess what's inside. We sit in a circle on the ground and put all presents in the middle. We get dice and we take turns rolling. Whenever somebody rolls a six, they take one present from the pile. We go around like that until there are no presents left. Then, without any of us looking, we set a timer for a random amount of time and again take turns rolling the dice. Only this time, when someone rolls a six, they get to steal one present from somebody else.
We go around rolling and stealing - fast, because you don't know if the time isn't going to run out any second.
Sometimes a war breaks out for one of the presents because someone steals it, then the person steals it back and suddenly everybody wants that present because it must be really good for these guys to be stealing it back and forth so much. When the timer runs out - whatever presents you have in your possession - they're yours!
Dinner. Is delicious… and pretty.
By tradition, after dinner, we make Risalamande - a Danish Christmas dessert. Its main ingredients are rice, milk, and almonds and it's served with warm cherry sauce. We have a game here too. All the almonds in the desert are chopped of course... except for one! We have one additional present set aside and whoever finds the whole almond - wins the present! It's tricky - you need to be careful not to chew your victory almond without realizing it :D
Once everybody's stomach is good and full, it's time to kick back. We free up a white wall somewhere and use it as a big screen. We set up a projector, put blankets and pillows on the ground and we play a movie. It's doesn't necessarily have to be a Christmas movie - last year we watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - but we try to choose a movie that at least most of us haven't seen.
Why This Type of Party Is Awesome
Well, first of all, it is a party! By definition it already is awesome! But there is something special in this setup. I don't know if it’s the teamwork or that you cook everything yourself. Or maybe the feeling of one big family. But somehow you feel that you belong. Not only that but it’s actually yours, you helped with creating that event and you know that everyone else appreciates you for that.
I encourage you to try out something similar with your team! Maybe invite them to your place ;)