Checking the IB Santa’s “Naughty or Nice” list

Email sent by Jessica this morning to me and the rest of our staff: “I was naughty again! I received a tabletop billiards table and this note: ‘You’re behind the 8-ball for your bad behavior. To redeem yourself, name a colleague you’d like to compete with. At the next staff meeting, you’ll get the chance to regain the title ‘winner’ again.’ Karen, are you up for a friendly game at the next staff meeting after your dance routine?”

Reply (to all) from Karen, who is already scheduled to do an impromptu Mexican dance, holding a Mexican jumping bean, at that same staff meeting: “Yes, you naughty girl. Bring it on!”

More than one person has asked me how IB is celebrating the holidays, since we’re getting a reputation for eccentric partying on those rare occasions we aren’t facing an imminent deadline, so I’ll fill you in on the mischief I’ve been up to with our “Naughty or Nice” game. It cost the company about $150, but so far it has returned to the business a lot of smiles and good cheer. That makes it a great investment, considering staff just put out the annual Book of Lists and therefore is ready, after several 50-hour workweeks, for a little merriment.

First, I made an Advent calendar of little boxes in a little chest of cardboard drawers, appropriately holiday papered and blinged out. Then I went shopping for little things, nothing more than $20 (most around $5-$10). There were not enough gifts for every day, so I had to improvise. Then, following the ratio of about 3:1 nice/naughty behavior, I made out little slips of paper to correspond and randomly put the “naughty or nice” messages in each drawer. The “naughty” message was accompanied by a jumping bean; the “nice” person would draw a little ornament with his or her slip of paper.

Staff then claimed their boxes, based on birth dates, so I had no idea who would draw what number. Numbers were recorded, and then, every day from Dec. 1 through Dec. 25, someone opens a drawer. The rattle of the bean, sounding very much like a rattle snake, stops them cold but I urge them on. It’s not like I’m going to embarrass them or anything if they were naughty (or will I?).

That, after all, is why Karen (the reason Santa created a “naughty list” in the first place) needs to redeem herself with a little dance. Joe will also perform an oratory, holding a chocolate fish. He can either confess his greatest workplace sin of the last year, or he can tell a fish story. None of us can predict which he’ll do, though there is a side bet. This should be good! (Continued on page 2.)


The “nice” people have earned free lunches, books, iTune gift cards, and two hours of paid time off (their favorite gift). Alan got a floating pen in his draw, and won’t trade it for box #19.

Jan, a naughty girl, has to give a colleague a head massage with the head tickler she opened. She’ll do that at the next staff meeting, where naughty people redeem themselves for the amusement of their colleagues. That’s where, last week, Carol gave her review of the movie Christmas Story. IB provided the gift: “a movie about cold Finns scaring reindeer with red clothing and playing with knives.” Carol hadn’t expected a Finnish movie with subtitles, but she was naughty, after all, not nice. And this Santa takes naughty seriously.

Ten-thumbed Tom, a naughty boy, had to wrap gifts for an hour one day after work last week for his co-workers. Alan took pity on him and brought him a six-pack of beer to wrap – and then gave it to him as a happy solstice gift. The beer was fitting, since during his previous draw, Tom discovered he’d been “nice,” earning the right to get hammered over the holiday. He loved his gift of beer hammer (one end is a beer opener and the other is a typical hammer to crush ice). All he needed was the brew, which common sense told this Santa not to purchase for an employee. But I was happy when Alan did it.

Alcohol is about all I wouldn’t buy for them, and they know it, so they wait, with an equal mix of merriment and dread, for their turn to draw again…. Rattle, rattle!

We’ve decided “Naughty or Nice?” is a keeper game, and if you want to steal it for next year and would like a list of our paper slips (and a shopping list) to save you time, let me know. I’d post it now, but we're still in the midst of drawings, and this crew would peek, earning them ALL a naughty slip!

[Editor’s note: Of course, Jody wrote a response to the tragedy in Newtown on her personal website, which is maintained for parents who have lost children. If you'd like to read that, go to Bereaved Parents Watering Hole at

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