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The best holiday party isn’t quite a party

Nov. 23, 2021
Even though they're supposed to be fun, holiday parties often become a drag. Dr. John Wilde came up with an alternative "party" that made everyone happy.

Admit it; holiday parties can be a pain. Venues are difficult to schedule and people are busy, so finding a time when everyone can attend is a challenge. And we all know that the “gifts” are really obligations. Half the people in attendance at a holiday party wish they were somewhere else, including maybe even the dentist who’s footing the bill.

Here’s how we changed the jejune holiday party into a highlight of our year. (This idea was “borrowed” in whole cloth from my late friend, Dr. Joe Steven, he of KISCO fame. Only steal from the best!)

The event took place on a Saturday morning in early December. Getting a lunch reservation was not a problem. We met at our office at 8:00 am, and every staff member received two crisp $100 bills before we headed into the big city of Quincy, Illinois (population 42,000), to shop.

There are some rules

Inviolable rules of engagement included that the entire $200 had to be spent that morning, and it could only be spent on the staff member herself. This is critical because bonuses often go toward paying bills or buying for others, but I gave them no choice. We announced this occasion weeks in advance, and those who couldn't attend forfeited the bonus. Only one person forfeited. Even though the rules were clear, this staff member was miffed (and I was uncomfortable), but I feared this precedent could harm future celebrations.

We separated to shop then met promptly at noon at the restaurant, where the food was good and the panoply of homemade desserts was spectacular. After ordering their lunches, everyone displayed their gifts and humble bragged about their astonishing shopping skills. At least in our area, there seem to be a lot of early December sales.

Nobody wished they were anywhere else! Seeing the sincere glow of joy and excitement on my teammates' faces imbued me with a true sense of the season, and the mutually shared pleasure brought our team closer.

No more cumbersome “traditional” holiday party!

This article originally appeared in DE Weekend newsletter. To subscribe visit dentaleconomics.com/subscribe.

About the Author

John A. Wilde, DDS

After eight years of higher education, paying 100% of the cost himself, John A. Wilde, DDS, spent two years in the Army Dental Corps before beginning a practice from scratch in Keokuk, Iowa. By age 30, he was debt-free, owning outright his new country home and the practice he had designed and built. By 40, he was financially able to retire. At age 53, he fully retired. Dr. Wilde has authored six books and more than 220 articles, and may be reached at (309) 333-2865 or [email protected].

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