It’s that time of the year: time for office Christmas parties.
You’ve probably attended and hosted some fantastic parties and some lousy parties. As a practice owner, it’s hard to come up with a new and exciting concept each and every year. As an associate or staff member, you just hope this year’s party doesn’t suck.
So here’s the deal. I’ll share my best—and worst—party experiences. By reading this, you agree to share yours. Among all of The Daily Grind readers, I am sure we can collectively come up with ONE good idea for this year’s Christmas party. You’ve read our blogs: you know we need help.
Best, most rockin’ office Christmas parties
The best party we’ve had so far was Christmas 2011. I was very excited that year, as I had just paid off my office. If you thought four years of dental school sucked (and it did), just wait for the seven years of paying off your practice note. You’ll actually miss dental school and those old professors that learned dentistry during the Civil War.
All that my staff knew of the party was to meet at my home. I had told each staff member that they would not be getting back to their homes before midnight, so they could arrange for babysitters.
When they arrived, they saw a white stretch limo and they knew this party was gonna rock! I had a professional photographer take individual photos and a staff photo. The staff photo now hangs proudly in our waiting room. Patients love seeing that photo. We get compliments on it each and every single day.
The limo took us to Hollywood for dinner. After dinner, we went to a play. But not just any play. A theater in Hollywood had transformed itself into the “I Love Lucy” television studio. We sat in the audience as they “filmed” two episodes of the show. The actors recreated both episodes, including the commercials that originally aired during the 1950s. Everyone was blown away. We all love Lucy. But to get the feeling of seeing it live and in color was something else. Two years later, my staff still talks about that evening.
Our second best party happened sort of by accident. The restaurant where we had made reservations cancelled in favor of a much larger group. We had two weeks to come up with something. If you’ve called restaurants in December looking for reservations for a large group, you’ve heard that laugh at the other end of the telephone.
I happened to mention this to the oral surgeon we refer to, and he invited us to join his party. Honestly, I did not like the idea of crashing someone else’s party. Then he explained.
None of us had a staff large enough to rent out an entire restaurant and have a DJ and dance floor. However, if we were to combine five offices, we would have options. His friend’s office had dropped out, and mine could take its place.
Each office had its own section for dinner so that way we could have our own celebration and gift exchange. After dinner, the lights went out and all the offices invaded the dance floor. Since it was just dental offices in the banquet room, there were other people each of us knew. We could dance with others, have a drink, or just catch up. My staff enjoyed it so much that my wife and I were among the first to leave at midnight. I never was told how late everyone stayed.
They can’t all be winners
The first year I owned my practice, my wife and I decided to host the staff at our home. It did not go well. My wife ran around heating up and serving food while I poured drinks and entertained. Since the staff sees me every day, they had already heard my jokes and stories.
I have found that parties at the doctor’s house are the least enjoyable. Why? Because YOU are the entertainment for the evening. If you happen to be very entertaining and can put on a show, you’ll be fine. If not, it’s just eating at the boss’ house and playing gift exchange games. I’m bored just writing about it. In contrast, if you go to a play, concert, etc., someone else is in charge of entertaining the troops.
Another Christmas event was ruined when a second restaurant that had taken our reservations for dinner canceled the reservations. Apparently, a large shipping company had more money to spend on Christmas parties than my office did. They rented out the ENTIRE restaurant and did not want any dentists joining their conga line. We were bumped to lunch. A weekday lunch just didn’t have the same feel to it, especially when we were the only ones in the entire restaurant. I know it sounds good, but you spend the entire meal wondering where everyone is.
So what have I learned? The bigger your group, the more options you have. I’ve also learned that having a great party does wonders for office morale. We all know that staff compares notes with other staffs, and they feel great when they have bragging rights. Besides, don’t you like to attend awesome Christmas parties? As I tell my wife, I do it for me as much as I do it for my staff.
What have been your best (and worst) efforts?
Andy Alas, DDS