Tips for a Special Dot-Com Holiday Party

Even though December is the busiest time of the dot-com year, most companies find time to squeeze in a little holiday cheer.

Over at Global Payments, where my wife works, they have a tradition of decorating doors. (You remember doors, don’t you? Houses have them.) Last year, Jenni cut construction paper every night for months on end so she could stick Santa’s sleigh in the middle of an Atlanta traffic jam for her entry. She won one of the top prizes, too — a $25 gift certificate!

The point is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money (though it helps) to get the troops into a festive mood. Here are some other ideas for your party planner to consider:

A Christmas cookie contest. Any single, straight male employee who enters this contest and does well is immediately qualified as a “great catch” and will be followed around by potential mothers-in-law forever. Again, management needs to spend very little money on this, although if you can get in a few pounds of Starbucks beans for that old coffee machine, the troops would appreciate it.

Dreidel for jobs. This is perfect for Hanukkah. The winner gets to keep his or her job, while losers get pink slips.

Secret Santa. We played this at one of the magazines I helped close. All drop their names in a hat and spend no more than $20 on a present for the person whose name they draw. Since the $20 has to include shipping charges, see if you can get something better than a pack of playing cards. Given that you’re at a dot-com, a special prize goes to anyone whose present arrives in time for the King holiday.

Laser-printer card contest. This is a variation of the door contest. But it’s not cool for a dot-com to have doors, and everyone’s using the laser printers for resumis anyway. This is the perfect forum for all that gallows humor that’s been going around. If things are as bad as the papers say, you can make the printer first prize in this one.

A Christmas visitor. Since few dot-com workers have the heft (or white beard) to play Santa, how about a visit from Scrooge instead? This is especially timely since everyone’s going to be working right up to the deadline getting out those Secret Santa orders and dealing with many unhappy returns.

The off-site party. I know these have gone out of fashion, but they’re worth reviving. My wife’s company used to have some wild ones. One party in a downtown hotel made the hotel manager wistfully recall the New Year’s party hosted by a grunge band the year before. A real blowout might be just the thing for your group. After all, there’s nothing like a little our-world-is-crashing-down-around-us desperation to energize a party!

Of course, your party might have to be a bit more modest than some of these suggestions. Maybe you can just trot over to the nearest yuppie fern bar and hoist a few together. If your firm doesn’t have a designated driver, you can make the assignment of this role a contest, too. The first drunk to pass out gets to pay for the cabs with his or her severance check.

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