There are thousands of creative ways to thank your staff for a year of hard work and demonstrate just how important they are to you. From fun-filled gatherings to team-building trips to heartstring-pulling gifts, SALON TODAY readers share their favorite festive inspirations:
Undercover Mission“Since my staff works so hard during the holiday season, I take them to a day spa in January just to relax. We usually go to a spa that’s at least 10 miles away where nobody knows us, and we can truly relax without anyone asking us questions about work. I book the services for each staff member so I can control the budget, and the tips are up to the staff. Afterward, we go out to dinner or lunch, discuss our experience and share ideas we may use in our salon.”
—Vicki Sommers, owner,
Hair Legacy Ltd., Elmhurst, Illinois
Pollyanna Party“For the holidays, I usually assemble gift packages of products ranging in value from $15 to $60. Staff members who sell $300 worth of these packages get a day off with pay.
I also have a holiday party for staff members and their significant others. We host it at a restaurant and I pick up the bill. We organize a gift exchange game were I purchase all the gifts, and staff members select numbers. When it’s their turn, they can either choose a gift that is wrapped or switch one with another employee.
At the party I also recognize members with three, five or 10 years worth of service. For three years, employees usually receive a nice piece of jewelry. At five years, they receive $100 and I open up an IRA account in their name. This year is the first year I’ll be giving away a 10-year service award, and I haven’t come up with the gift yet!”
—Diane Holinka, owner,
Lady Di’s Salon & Spa, Glenolden, Pennsylvania
Pay Day“We close the day after Christmas, and any full-time staff members receive the day off with pay. I also give each person a special gift—each gift will be different, but all are about the same value—and a monetary bonus. I usually host a dinner—we’ll either go out or I’ll make it myself. This year, we plan to go bowling.”
—Catarina Sacchetti, owner,
Catarina’s Hair Designs, Landsdale, Pennsylvania
Simple Gestures“I think the best way to show you care about your employees is to do a little something special on each day leading up to Christmas. For example, we let everyone wear jeans one day or have a day when everyone dresses in the holiday spirit. We hang stockings for each staff member and fill them with small gifts like chocolate, coupons, bath and beauty products. Throughout the month I add extra gifts when someone steps up to the plate to do more. At the holiday celebration, we pass the stockings around and they’ll see what they achieved by excelling in sales, service and other things we challenge them to do.”
—Jan Gilmore, senior stylist,
JCPenney Salon in the Towne Center, Conway, Arkansas
Road Trip“Since I have a small staff, I have the ability to be creative and keep things interesting. This year, we are going to do a wine tour. We are renting a limousine—so there will be no drinking and driving—and inviting the spouses to come along. In past years, we have gone out for a nice dinner and stayed overnight in a hotel near a casino and had some fun.
—Sue Dicky, owner,
Studio North, Williamsville, New York
That Favorite T“Every year we design a commemorative T-shirt and give one to each staff member. These shirts are worn on special dates throughout the year such as the anniversary of a location opening or during fund-raising events.
“Our holiday party is very glamorous night. Everyone goes out of his or her way to find that amazing dress or wear a bow tie for the first time. For the last ‘family gathering’ (or staff meeting) of the year we have a holiday feast similar to Thanksgiving dinner. It is a reflective meeting about where the company has been and a projection of where we are heading.”
—John Stefanick, production manager,
Noëlle Spa for Beauty and Wellness, Stamford, Conneticut
Festive Decor Competition“On the first or second Tuesday of December, we close the salon at
2 p.m. and go to a nice restaurant for a lunch. We draw names for gift giving, and I also give a “special” gift to each staff member—it’s a gag gift of sorts. All year long I’ll watch and listen to everyone and keep track of something funny they have said or done throughout the year. I then purchase or make a gift pertaining to the ‘funny event’ and give to each one. It is the highlight of the party, and they never know what to expect.
“We also pick a project each year in which we involve our clients. This year we are decorating stockings, filling them and donating them to the Women and Children’s Alliance. Each stocking will be hung around the salon, unknown to the clients as to who decorated each one. The clients get to vote on their favorite. I also give a prize to the winning staff member. Our clients love this, and they ask each year when we are going to start the project. It’s a great way to decorate the salon for the holidays and do something nice.”
—Shirley Carroll, owner,
Wispers Hair & Nail Salon, Boise, Idaho
Magic Words“Our owners, Angela and David Boyd, go out of their way to make the holidays special. We are included in the decision about which charity to support during the holidays, and the salon guests are encouraged to participate. This year we’re doing a food drive for Second Harvest Savannah."
“The real fun begins at our annual dinner party where Angela presents Angel Awards. Each employee receives an unusual and beautiful angel ornament. As she gives each individual an angel, she extols the that person’s virtues and their contributions to the Angelora family. Each individual learns how important their role is within the company. It is truly an emotional moment. Then, David hands out bonuses and we exchange our Secret Santa gifts.”
—Sandy Evenson, stylist and colorist,
Angelora Color & Design, Savannah, Georgia
Extended Vacation“One gift I’ve given is a day off with pay—whatever a staff member’s average daily commission is for the previous year is paid in a cash bonus. I also always close the salon Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after so all of my staff can spend time with their families. Last year we worked every Monday in December and closed the entire week of Christmas—the total sum of all the Mondays was equal to a week’s pay. The staff really loved it!”
—Elaine Travis, owner,
Splash Hair Studio, Conshohocken, Pennsylvania
A Bit of Comfort“Last year I was very surprised at the great response and excitement from a gift I gave my staff members. I went to the local department store and purchased 38 pairs of Ugg slippers, something we all needed after a busy month of standing. I think I got a hug from every member of my staff. I also held a catered event with a live musician and staff members were encouraged to invite guests and special clients.”
—Cindy Landa, owner,
Estilo Salon and Day Spa, West Des Moines, Iowa
Put it to a Vote“I have a love/hate relationship with our holiday party! In the past, we have always had a nice dinner as a group, but I felt like some people didn’t really appreciate it and felt it was more an obligation than something fun. So this year I sent out a survey to get a feel of what people wanted to do as a staff holiday event. I offered choices and the unanimous winner was bowling. So we are going to a trendy bowling alley in Philadephia. The alley caters right to the lanes and offers fun foods like tater tots, mac and cheese and funnel cakes.”
—Jessica Hammel, owner,
American Male Salons, Reading, Pennsylvania
Party Time“Each year we have an employee party for staff members and their dates either at a local restaurant or rental facility. We try to make the event entertaining as well, and have had karaoke, team-building games, and a gift exchange game. This year we are considering a holiday bowling party. In addition, I try to find meaningful gifts for each staff member each year. One year we gave everyone a luxurious logo robe and last year everyone was given an autograph frame that they passed around for others to sign.”
—Patricia Owen, owner,
Faces DaySpa, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Free for All“I was thinking about getting some flatirons, hair dryers, and other needed equipment and having a grab bag. I just can’t decide whether to do the cruel one where the next person to grab gets to choose one from the pile or one that someone picked or just have everyone grab a gift and they all open them at the same time.”
—Diane Pawlak, owner,
Blondie & Leftie’s Hair Salon, Canton, Michigan
Games People Play
Since many of the salon owners referred to the gift exchange game as a clever and fun way to host a staff party, SALON TODAY decided to do a little research. According to internet research, this popular office party invites each guest to bring a gift of the same approximate value.
All participants bring their wrapped, but unlabeled, gifts to the pile. Gifts are typically inexpensive and humorous. All participants draw a number to determine their order. Participant #1 chooses a gift, opens it and shows it to everyone. Each successive participant, in the order determined from the drawing, can choose to “steal” an already opened gift or chose a wrapped gift. If the participant chooses to steal, then the person whose gift is stolen now repeats their turn and either steals another person’s gift or unwraps a new gift. This cycle of stealing can continue for a long time, until a new gift is chosen, at which point the turn is passed to the participant with the next number from the drawing.
When done in the right spirit, the gift exchange becomes entertainment for the party.