A box of chocolates can bring employees together with a simple unwrapping activity.


Q: Happy holiday Jill. We are doing our end of the year employee evaluations and wanted to come up with something a little different this time around. Each employee will receive their formal one-on-one interview with management, but we wanted to do something interactive as a group, as well, especially since it’s the holidays. Have any ideas for an inexpensive but appropriate group appreciation activity?

A: Happy holidays to you too Lisa! Evaluations can certainly be a little stressful but I recently came across a great activity that is a real hit with colleagues. I heard about this activity from an East Metro Youth Services (EMYS) employee where it apparently originated. Here is how it works. Buy one gift, which could be a box of chocolates, candies, or anything that is boxed that can be equally shared with everyone in the office. Let’s assume it’s a box of chocolates. It is wrapped up as many times as there are employees in the office. Underneath each layer of wrapping is a kind and thoughtful message (written on or attached to every layer of the wrapping paper). The message should begin with "Pass this to someone who..." and end with something like "is a wonderful listener" or "is a real team player."

With employees seating in a circle, the item is passed around to each employee and each employee then passing the package to someone in the circle that best matches the message on the wrapping.

This activity works well because everyone in the office receives a kind message from a fellow colleague. After the package has been unwrapped several times and all the messages are gone the last person to unwrap the box will uncover the gift, which the entire team can then share.

Try this and let me know how it works. For a bit of variety, you can also have multiple gifts going around.

Q: Is re-gifting really that bad? I’ve got some items here that I will never use and with the holidays right around the corner I’m trying to save some money wherever I can. Is re-gifting at the office a strict no-no?

A: I usually caution against re-gifting simply because you never know who knows who and you would never want the gift to get back to the person who first gave it to you! Personally, I also find re-gifting takes away the opportunity to purchase something unique for whom I’m actually shopping.

I can understand your situation though. The more gifts to purchase, the more money we spend. If you find yourself in a situation where you would like to re-gift, I would only recommend this be done on items that are very generic and don’t read as too personal, for example a box of chocolates, a holiday mug, or a bottle of wine (although I usually do not recommend alcohol for office holiday gifts unless you are very close to that particular colleague).

These types of items can be re-gifted. My only advice is to make sure to purchase a new card. Nothing is worse than opening the standard mini-card on a gift bag only to see someone else’s name on it!

Jill Andrew — CYW, BA, BA (Hons.), BEd. Please include your full name, address and telephone number when e-mailing. All letters are subject to publication.


jill’s tip of the week

In the spirit of the holiday season remember to consider the diverse cultural and religious interpretations of the holidays being celebrated. When sending your seasonal greetings I recommend adhering to a inclusive "Happy holidays" greeting. Remember, it's the finest touches that are most memorable and most appreciated!

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