I absolutely LOVE holiday time at the office. I also hate it a little bit. I get very little work done, and I have a lot of work on my plate, so that's the hate part of it.
But the love part, that's special. At this time of the year, everyone is nice to everyone. It is cheerful, and the halls are filled with the sound of laughing, joyful people. We have solid holiday traditions in place, and everyone looks forward to the rituals.
We have a Christmas breakfast. We used to cook it ourselves, but since we don't have a kitchen and there are now 38 of us, we have it catered. We decorate a meeting room, have holiday music, and play the White Elephant game. Each person who wants to play brings in a wrapped gift costing around $20. We place all the gifts on the table. Then we each get a number assigned to us, representing our turn in the game. The first person unwraps a present. This present is now in play. The next person can unwrap a new present, or "steal" from the first person. Gifts get stolen back and forth, sometimes changing hands 4 or 5 times, with a ton of laughing and joking thrown in. If you have a gift stolen from you 3 times, your next gift is "safe" and can't be taken from you. It is amazing to see the various strategies that people employ in such a simple game.
We have Secret Santa for 12 days. Small gifts, ideally around a dollar, appear in your office or your mailbox for 11 days, and then a big gift at the breakfast, when you try to guess who your secret santa was. People are amazingly creative, and really enjoy sneaking around and coming up with artful ways to hide their identity.
There is also a holiday party for the office, hosted by the boss. Usually this is at his home, with lots of catered food and an open bar. It does wonders for office morale to do shots of tequila with the boss. This year, his house is being renovated, so we are going to Little Italy for a 3 hour "lunch".
Lest you think we are all about us at the holidays, we also adopt a family from the University's charity drive. This year we adopted a grandmother raising 6 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. She is confined to a wheelchair, and the whole family lives in a two bedroom apartment in East Baltimore. We hosted a party for them, complete with tree and Santa. Then we sent them home with 5 bags of groceries, a tree with ornaments and lights, wrapped gifts for Christmas morning, and a few hundred gifts for the kids and grandmother to open on the spot. Our office elves shopped and wrapped presents for a week. We also baked treats for the party, made sure each child got a winter coat and mittens, hats and boots, and video-taped each child with Santa. It was truly special. The grandmother kept saying it was the best Christmas they had ever had. What I don't think she got was how great it was for us!
It really is a wonderful time of year!