I didn’t just want an excuse to put that song in a blog, I promise! However, if you want to get into the spirit of this post, I highly suggest you watch. Sing along, too!
I am one of the few people in the world who can actually say I like my boss. (Most people will do so and then flinch, waiting for the inevitable lightning strike sent down to punish audacious liars.) And when I say I like my boss, I don’t just mean that in the “I’m friends with her on Facebook” sense or even the “I’d consider going on a vacation with her” sense. No, no. Nothing so piddly or ephemeral as that. I’m talking in the “Yes, of course she can have my kidney/liver/bone marrow” sense.
This year, her birthday falls on Thanksgiving, which meant that we wouldn’t be at work to celebrate it. Also, it’s a milestone birthday, one that ends in a zero, and it deserved a little extra ooomph as such. Naturally, all the little elves and I put our pointy hats together and came up with a fun and unique way to celebrate the miraculous and wonderful birth of one truly amazing person. Feel free to steal our ideas or just the concept itself in order to truly show someone you care about how glad you are that his/her mother chose to give him/her life.
We decided one day was simply not enough for the beginning of a new decade, so we elected to go for the week-long celebration instead. Thus, Operation Jenukkah was born. Naturally, we went with the Hanukkah idea as it provided a fun framework and title. Granted, our celebration was five days in length rather than eight, but no one (not even we) works eight days a week! 🙂 (Well, maybe Jen does, but that’s a story for another blog.)
Day Zero (Saturday)
On Saturday, I snuck up to work and with a roll of obnoxiously pink wrapping paper, copious amounts of tape, and a few other gewgaws and transformed her door into a package just waiting to be opened. Yes, it does look like a five-year-old, a highly distracted one, did it. But it’s the thought that counts, right? Right!?
**This turned out to be an unforeseen (but important) advertising element, the effect of which you’ll see on day five.**
Day One (Monday)
The key to throwing someone off the track regarding a Jenukkah-type birthday is to start simply. Seriously, think more “Ang Lee” and less “Michael Bay.” It gives you somewhere to start and work your way up from. We opted for flowers and a nice notepad as you can see here. Oh, and a jaunty balloon on a stick. Everything, and I mean everything, is better on a stick.
** Concerning logistics, it is best to sneak in before your friend gets to work. Thankfully, ours left her door unlocked, and that made this operation a cinch to carry out. If your friend/loved one is a little less trusting in humanity and locks the door, you have two options—1.) Buy and learn how to use a set of lock picks or 2.) Bring a box or two of tasty homemade baked treats to the building manager in exchange for access.**
Day Two (Tuesday)
Day two featured all manner of sweet things. Candy from Peterbrooke, a cupcake from CamiCakes, and a balloon featuring, you guessed it, a pink cupcake! She mentioned later in the week that this gift was well timed as she was stressed and fell upon the CamiCake like a Tasmanian Devil. After that, the day was better all around.
This is the lousiest picture I’ve ever taken, and not because I’m only slightly more skilled with a camera than an orangutan. Granted, there’s a ton of work on her desk in this one (as per usual), but the gift is not well featured. That’s something else to consider when carrying out your own operation. Gift placement is essential. It needs to POP, to draw the eye immediately. Her screensaver is more attractive than this set up. However, it was all themed, and that goes a long way. I’m a big fan of themed things. Just ask my mother about winning the neighborhood Christmas decorating contest a few years ago when we beat the guy who wins almost every year. It was like something out of Hoosiers.
Also, on a humorous note, Jen beat me in to work that day, so I had to stop, drop, and roll (all while holding a balloon) to get out of sight in time. She didn’t leave her office until nearly eleven, which is when I ninjaed in there with treats in hand. I suggest stretching before delivery each day…you know, just in case.
Day Three (Wednesday)
As you can see here, day three was all about the Achilles’ Heel of all females–make-up and bath products. One of the other girls at work snuck this one in and took the picture for me, and I have to say she’s a much better photographer than I am. She took several shots, all of which were done from different angles and levels. It made the gift look artistic! Also, she left a nice handwritten note to add to the surprise. Jen already had an inkling that something was up by day three, so letting her in at this point was part of the fun.
**Bonus idea! I had considered little handwritten notes explaining the theme of the day in doggerel verse, but time was short. It’d be a nice touch if you can pull it off.**
Day Four (Thursday)
By day four, it became apparent that the gifts were getting bigger. This one had the first double digit priced gift, a B&N gift card. (Great, now I’m singing “Hey, Big Spender” from Sweet Charity in my head!) The rest of the gifts are a clever cup from CB2 that has a place for a spoon in its handle, a box of vanilla almond tea from a company called Purse-anali-Tea. (There’s no link for this one because I can’t figure out how to spell it, and Google is giving me some weird as heck results I’m not keen on sharing here! It’s a purse full of tea. Hence the clever play on words. You get the idea.) We also threw in a cute little gift book, Wisdom for the Sole, because Jen is a shoe fanatic nonpareil. It’s full of fun footwear quotes and clever drawings, and it cost next to nothing.
**Shop smarter, not pricier! I find more often than not that people appreciate gifts that are well-thought-out to those that are pricey. It requires a little more work to find them (in this case, fifteen minutes perusing B&N after grabbing the gift card), but she said it was one of her favorite gifts of the week.**
Day Five (Friday)
Two things you’ll notice here. One, I took my own advice and made the gift much more attractive on the desk using a pillow from her couch. Had I thought about it, I’d have borrowed a mannequin (or at least one of those terrifying body-less ones that people use to display wigs). However, like Indiana Jones, we were all making it up as we went along. The scarf was from Charming Charlie, a great place for accessories, and the LOFT gift card was for her to pick an outfit to go with it from her favorite store.
The other point of note is the green bag sitting bashfully off to the side. Throughout the week, other people starting bringing in little things to add to the pile, things that we had nothing to do with! How cool is that!? Co-workers had begun talking about the door, which led to a discussion of the plan, and on their own, a few other folks started dropping things off on the sly as well. 🙂 Isn’t it great when an idea takes off!?
By the end of the week, Jen had a pretty sizable stash of treasure on her desk. However, according to her, the best thing was the fact that something else showed up on her desk each day…sometimes two or three times a day! The surprise is indeed the thing.
The Grand Finale
We finished the week with something we dubbed Cakeapalooza! A co-worker made the delicious cookie cake on the left and topped it with homemade whipped cream and strawberries. I did the chocolate peanut butter cake on the right. Naturally, we got together, sang, and ate a ton of sugary, carbtastic goodness. However, Jen (the smiling woman you see in the middle) thought her gifts were at an end and the cake was all there was. However, a group of people had chosen to contribute to another gift, and it was a whammer! Over the course of a week and a half, they had gathered enough to get her a $200 gift card to the Apple Store for the purchase of a new iPhone 4S, which she had been needing/wanting/dreaming about since it came out. Talk about an exciting conclusion! In fact, she was so stoked, she ran to the store before the end of the day and got exactly what she wanted.
So, all in all, Jenukkah was a fun experiment in gift giving we got to enjoy as much as the recipient. I highly suggest doing it to see how many people get caught up in the fun!