When I started at Clarus a little less than a year ago, I heard magical stories about the holidays here. Visions of casino trips and ugly sweaters danced in my head… not to mention a week off in between it all. It seemed like a wonderful time of year, and I’m here to tell you that it has been.
From our latest Clarus Cares event to our party at Mohegan Sun to our ugly sweater contest, we’ve been busy little elves and we’ve taken a lot of time to celebrate 2017 as it comes to a close.
The Angel Wall
For our latest Clarus Cares event, we created our own angel wall to help with The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program, which provides new clothing and toys for children of needy families in the greater Hartford area.
We set up a tree with tags that had specific gifts written on them and started collecting these unwrapped gifts back in November. Our team collected over 100 gifts and those donations will help to eliminate the cost of gifts that would normally be part of The Salvation Army’s holiday expenses.
That means more funding will be available for emergency needs such as food, clothing, shelter, rental assistance, fuel assistance, etc. and a lot of happy kids.
I’m so impressed with our team for the awesome job they did. We even had to get more tags in halfway through the fundraiser.
The holiday season really got off on the right foot.
The Office Holiday Party
Now, I would never talk down about office parties I’ve attended before. I like cheese cubes and awkward conversations with people you don’t know just as much as the next person, but ours wasn’t like that at all.
Ours had great cheese cubes and other snacks and beer, and there was no awkwardness whatsoever. There were only awesome conversations and lots of laughs.
And with half days of vacation and $50 Amazon gift cards on the line, everyone really went all out on the decor.
The Cubicle Decorating Contest
It all started with a cubicle decorating contest. Each team member was given a $15 budget and the departments all teamed up to transform the office into a winter wonderland. While I’ve attended my fair share of marketing and sales meetings, I can say that our cubicle decorating committee meeting was the first of it’s kind I’ve been to… and it was a lot of fun.
The results from all the teams were impressive. I loved walking through Whoville, laying out on the islands, and taking a trip to New York City.
The Ugly Sweater Contest
Next up was the ugly sweater contest, and boy were they hideous. We had cats, flashing lights, and more bells than you could shake a candy cane at.
My sweater started off as a pretty ugly piece in its own right, but my wife stitched on dozens of “custom” bells. There was no sneaking up on anyone in that sweater, which made it tough to steal candy.
The White Elephant Gift Exchange
Perhaps the funniest event was the white elephant gift exchange. Everyone that wanted to participate brought in a $15 wrapped mystery gift. We all drew numbers, picked gifts, and were able to steal from others as well.
I really thought I had that Game of Thrones beer set, but in the end, I ended up with two size medium t-shirts. Maybe one day I’ll fit into them. 2018 goals, anyone?
The beer and wine bottles seemed to move around quite a bit, but the Cat Shaming 365 Day Calendar did not. I wonder who put that one in. *wink wink*
Office Holiday Party Winners
Cubicle Decorating Contest – IT Team
Ugly Sweater Contest – Sue, Accounting
The Mohegan Sun Holiday Party
Our main event took place at the Mohegan Sun Cabaret Theater, which is a pretty awesome place to get together in my book.
Team members were encouraged to bring their spouses or significant others, some of who I got to meet for the first time. It felt like a big family reunion.
Everyone mingled over drinks and appetizers and then sat down to a delicious buffet-style dinner. During the bash, we had guest speaker Jim Penders, baseball coach for the UCONN Huskies, talk to us about the importance of working as a team.
Our CEO Tom also got up on stage to talk about 2017. Every year, he makes it a priority to sit down with each team member individually and ask them questions about how things are going. At the party, Tom asked himself those same questions and answered them in front of the entire company. It was really impressive.
Making things easier and more efficient in 2018 was one of his big takeaway goals.
We also had the opportunity to recognize some team members who went above and beyond this year.
Rookie of the Year – Nick, IT
Unsung Hero – Megan, Marketing
MVP – Jen, HR
Spotlight – Mike, Business Development
The official party ended with desserts (and more drinks for some). Then we went on to do our own socializing after everyone gradually poured out of the theater. My wife and I really aren’t gamblers, so we met some coworkers for a beer instead. We knew the odds of a good time were high.
Heading Into 2018
I went home the next day with fond memories and a stronger sense of team. Oh, and a trip to the dry cleaner. I put my arm down on a plate of Johnny Rockets cheese fries after the party.
It was a great finale to a momentous year. Once we’re rested and back from winter break, I’m looking forward to an even better 2018. All in all, the holiday festivities at Clarus went above and beyond what I ever could have imagined.
It was a great experience (even the dry cleaning bill). With less than 365 days to go, I’d better start sewing more bells on my sweater to prep for the 2018 holiday party soon!
At Clarus, we believe that growing together outside of the office makes our time in the office better. Interested in joining a team that knows working hard and playing hard go hand in hand? Check out our job openings here.