Every year the chat about Christmas comes around and I enjoy strategising for the silly season. Clients and management can spend sackloads of time and money navigating the pros and cons of expressing how much we care to customers, suppliers and staff.
Should we throw a party – when, who, with drinks or not, do we need a Santa or security? Should we send an EDM – something serious or dancing elves? Should we write cards or give gifts – who, what, how much, who is going to deliver all this stuff? The annual dilemma reveals a lot about how much and how well a company has shown how it feels about its key people all year round.
I love Christmas and the busy, happy vibe of Australian summers in general, but some people go into a sudden spiral of festive frenzy and that’s not fun for anyone. If you are as perennially organised as Santa’s workshop and already have a well-planned and orchestrated approach to showing your “A” clients and team how much you care, then go deck the halls and bask in the glow! Otherwise, here’s what I think is important as a relationship building strategy – which is, ultimately, always the point.
My yuletide tips:
Christmas signals the end of the year, which inspires hope for the year ahead in most people. It also encourages looking back at the year that was. Your message for the people that matter, accordingly, should reflect these facets and be celebratory, thankful, acknowledging of others and audience (not YOU) focused. It’s appropriate to express how much you’ve appreciated the support, loyalty, effort, teamwork, business, service and professionalism of others.
Make your channel and gesture fit the audience – a mass EDM if you have thousands in your database is fine, but it’s a bit cold (lump of coal-like, even) for your staff. Handwritten cards are making a comeback, especially handed out personally or posted to arrive before Wednesday 21st December, which is the latest arrival date to appear thoughtful. Gifts may be appropriate for VIPs and hand delivery is best. Trust me though, nobody will remember that bottle of red by Australia Day unless it’s in the range of Grange (and in that case, I’d suggest you instead go to dinner and drink it together to be truly memorable). Gift cards are a no-no unless it’s for a shared experience – e.g. a team climb of the Sydney Harbour Bridge or a group trip away.
The Christmas party calendar chaos rule of thumb is that festivities can begin from Melbourne Cup, so if you haven’t already invited everyone by now it’s too late. Opt for a post-February option and call it a thank you gathering instead.
Whatever you do this Christmas, I hope you celebrate a year well-lived with the people you care about and enjoy a happy, safe and joyful festive time. Thanks for being part of my family in 2016!