we had an amazing staff party last sunday night. as is our tradition, all aspects of the evening were a surprise. all we’d told people was that it was a hawaiian theme, and that there would be a costume competition and talent competition. then, friday afternoon, we let everyone know they should show up at the town & country hotel, in the ‘tiki room’. we’ve had many conventions at this hotel, so going there for a staff party would be — we hoped — a bit of a ‘been there, done that’. people tried to have a good attitude. the tiki room was all decked out for christmas, almost like a year-round christmas store (the hotel does this, it wasn’t our decoration). but we had lousy hawaiian appetizers (spam and pineapple on toothpicks, for example). once everyone arrived and we had our share of laughs over the way people dressed, we gave each person an envelope of money and told them they had one hour to walk over to fashion valley mall (a very nice mall right behind the hotel) and buy a gift they would like to receive. we told them to be on the lookout for karla yaconelli, tic long and myself. if karla found them, she would give them additional money for their gift. if tic or i found them, we’d take money away. it was pretty funny to see people actually run away from me in the middle of a crowded mall!
when everyone got back to the t&c with their wrapped gifts, karla presented a funny poem and made the ys execs do an interpretive hula behind her (all the male execs had to take our shirts off and wear little coconut bikini-tops, along with grass skirts — i was not overly happy at this development!). her poem revealed that the t&c was a set-up, and we were actually headed to ‘the prado’, a beautiful restaurant in balboa park. we all loaded up our cars and drove over to the prado, where we had an appetizer reception on a private balcony, then a wonderful meal. during the meal, we revealed the winners of the costume competition (alex roller — dressed much like the male execs were made to be during karla’s poem, but with the addition of a long black wig and make-up that made him terrifying, and leslie lutes — dressed as a roasted pig, tied for first place. will and christine penner — dressed as tacky tourists — won third place). then we started the ‘talent’ competition, which provided dozens of opportunities for cross-your-legs-or-you’ll-pee laughter.
then we had a massive ‘white elephant’ gift exchange (everyone’s place cards had numbers on the back), but we threw in a few bonus rules here and there to keep people jumping.
we wrapped up the evening as we have the last handful of years, at a rooftop lounge overlooking san diego (a place called ‘mr a’s’).
i work with a wonderful and creative group of people, and it was so much fun to share this time with them.