Ideas: Decorate for the Holidays in Places Where It Surprises People

This idea is excerpted from Barbara’s book CARE Packages for the Workplace–Dozens of Little Things You Can Do to Regenerate Spirit at Work (McGraw-Hill, 1996) 

The Idea:

Find places in your workplace where holiday decorations will surprise and delight your co-workers and customers. You might even consider decorating the restrooms!

The Idea In Action:

At the airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Karen Ealy, a Supervisor, has made it her special gift to both employees and customers to decorate the tops of the security detector machines for each holiday. It changes a rather frightening experience for new travelers and a somewhat aggravating routine experience for seasoned travelers to one of delight and appreciation, and it also makes the wait in line much more palatable. She says that busy executives even thank her for reminding them of the holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day that they are likely to forget!

I recently received this letter from employees of the Michigan Department of State:

All of us wanted to express the enthusiasm and excitement that we all felt after attending your seminar! In keeping with the spirit of making our job more exciting (for both us and our customers!), we have pledged our devotion to making our office a fun, more enjoyable place to work. It’s nearly Halloween again, and thanks to the help of our resident decorating specialist, we have transformed our office into a creative Halloween haven!

As customers come into our office, they now walk through gigantic balloon arches that loom above the front doors. A lifesize grim reaper with blinking eyes decorates one part of the office, and Count Dracula waits in another area. Bats hover around the ceiling, close to a group of fearsome spiders–and we’re not sure how he got in, but a rather large spider created a monstrous web that hangs over our customers’ heads!
We have a pumpkin patch in one area made out of balloons–each pumpkin has the name of an employee on it. There is a balloon centerpiece on each computer, a balloon witch on the wall, and several ghosts haunting the ceiling as well. And our manager’s office has been renamed “Dracula’s Den”. Our District Manager is now called the “Dungeon Master” and quite surprisingly, we don’t have as many children misbehaving as we did before!

Many of these changes have come about thanks to the work you put into helping us and the way you have changed our attitudes about customer service. We really can make a difference (and we are!!!!)

This letter is a wonderful example of spirit in the workplace.


Try to include decorations for holidays from all cultures and religions since many travelers are far away from home and would truly appreciate this gesture of caring. Sharing other’s holiday traditions also celebrates diversity and teaches a bit about another culture.

Barbara Glanz Biography

A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at and

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