November '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Dan Danbom is a Denver writer and the author of "Humor Meets the Workforce: Make Laughter One of Your Organization's Goals." LAST LAUGH B Y D A N D A N B O M 96 || P R I N T W E A R N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 5 W ith the holidays soon upon us, businesses face two of the more vexing challenges of the year: the holiday workplace gift exchange, and the obligatory holiday potluck. Let's start with the potluck. Asking employees to bring in food for a festive meal is a fast and easy way to give busy people more to do. Some employees may think that the potluck simply means they have to go to the grocery store and pick up a box of muffins, but the unwritten rules of potlucks state that this is unacceptable. In- stead, what is required is several hours of recipe-scouring, cooking, and baking to create something that says, "I respect my co-workers so much that I labored over a stove for two hours to bake Grand- ma's famous caramel maple nut swirl loaf with cinnamon frosting. And, again this year, I will be presenting it on a festive platter fea- turing elves at work. Take that, you disrespectful muffin-bringer." Potluck participants use the meal as an informal indicator of co-workers' commitment. If you're not committed to your fellow workers enough to make a pimiento log with reindeer bits, you're certainly not worthy to be a member of the team, much less be promoted. Males used to be given a pass on what they brought because the feeling used to be that men can't cook, so you're lucky if they just bring in a plate of donut holes. But this is sexist think- ing, and with the rise in popularity of cooking shows and foodie culture, it's no longer the sole responsibility of the women of the work place to prepare something edible. Men are now expected to meet the high food bar set by women, even if it means bringing in something "manly" like homemade whiskey or barbequed elk parts. At these community food gatherings, you are required to sample every participant's dish and to compliment the chef, even if the pimiento log gets caught in your esophagus and the guy from ac- counts receivable has to perform the Heimlich maneuver. If there are members of your team who are vegans, have food aller- gies, or eat only free-range cookies, you may want to call in sick, but only if you have another job lined up. At some point in the holiday potluck, there most likely will be a "White Elephant" gift exchange. Here's how those work: everyone is required to bring a wrapped gift that is piled in the middle of the potluck table. They then pick a number out of a hat. The number determines the order of gift-recipients. If your turn comes around and you have your eyes on that write-in-the-dark pen that an earlier recipient got, you can take that gift. The person whose gift you took then chooses another gift, although they might be busy slashing your tires because they really, really wanted that pen. Again, the kind of gift you bring defines the kind of person your co-workers judge you to be. Don't think you can get away with a gift of Arby's Holiday Glasses that you found at a garage sale. Your gift has to be: 1) new, 2) worth more than $1.99, and 3) not a guinea pig. You must wrap the gift. Under no circumstances should you show up with the gift in the Target holiday bag with a ribbon closing the handles. We're talking gift wrap and an elaborate ribbon. Points are subtracted for those cheap, stick-on bows. I guess that pretty much covers the ins and outs of the office hol- iday season. Take comfort in the fact that everyone is in the same boat. Also, someday you'll get to retire. More Maple Nut Swirl, Please

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