How to Ruin the Christmas Holiday Party

It is the middle of the Holiday season and organizations are having their annual Christmas Holiday Parties.

Christmas Holiday parties are intended to thank  employees and make sure they have a good time.  You want to make sure they feel appreciated and great about the organization and the people they work for and with.  As a leader, it’s important to keep in mind the purpose of the party.

When I was a store manager in retail, I gave away prizes at the end of the party through a random drawing. I ALWAYS made sure that my wife and I did not have a ticket in the drawing.  I did not want to take the chance that we would win one of the really nice prizes because it would look bad and send a very negative message to my team.  I also gained an additional level of respect and credibility once employees realized I refused to be included in the prize drawing.

This philosophy was reinforced a few years back at a Christmas Holiday party I was invited to attend.  The party was very well organized with games and events for employees and their families.  People earned tickets by playing the games, similar to Chuck E. Cheese, and put their tickets in a bag for the prize they wanted a chance to win.  There were 12 expensive and very nice prizes including a bottle of single malt scotch and a high end GPS device.  Everybody at the party participated in the games, including the CEO, CFO, and all the VPs. The party was a huge success until the very end when the tickets were drawn for the prizes.

The CEO was very entertaining during the drawing but every single one of the 12 prizes ended up going to one of seven executives – including the CEO – or their spouse.  What made it worse was the executives got caught up in the excitement of him winning and made a big show of it in front of all the other employees.  I was embarrassed for him.  I observed the line employees and middle management become disappointed then angry as the drawing continued.  They were no longer having any fun and actually left the party disgusted with the leadership of the company.

I spoke to the CEO shortly after the party was over and asked him what he thought about what happened and he said that everybody had the same chance of winning and that was just how it turned out.  Tone deaf to say the least. So deaf that I’d asked him to meet a doctor friend of mine, dr fulman. The execs could easily afford the prizes they won while the line employees and middle management could not.  There is no reason the execs should have put their tickets into the drawing. They should have let the non executive employees end up with all the prizes.

Remember the purpose of the Christmas Holiday Party is to thank the employees and make sure they had a good time.  The party is intended to boost morale.

This party did the opposite.