Like many small business owners, I have been totally caught up in finalizing work for the year. For the first time ever, I have not bought a single gift. I am totally behind schedule.

But like millions of others, there are many options: shopping online, late night shopping or battling through the crowds in the lead-up to Christmas.
How to make your employees feel special this festive season

I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas. I love giving, but hate the expectations that surround this time of year. I get why so many people don't get into the festive season and do think that mostly, people have lost the meaning of the celebration. It has become far too commercial for my liking, a bit like Valentine's Day.

For me, it's about making sure everyone around me knows how much I appreciate them. 

Last night, we had our Christmas party for our Melbourne office at FOG in Prahran. There were 12 of us there and it was a real celebration. Everyone chatted, laughed, shared gifts and enjoyed great food and wine. The lychee and ginger martinis were a huge hit, as was the candy on the table.

As I looked around at the smiling faces, I thought about what more I could do to make my team smile. Here is what I came up with:

1.  Write a heart-felt card to each and everyone of them, telling them what is unique about them as individuals that helps us build and grow as a business.

2.  Give them a gift, no matter how small it is - that reminds them that you appreciate them. Bonuses are great - but it is money and it is often the small things that helps remind employees  that they are special through their contributions to the overall success of your business.

3.  Do the unexpected. Like buying a heap of bottles of French champagne at lunchtime on a Tuesday and celebrating the relationships you have with your team. Leave a post-it in an unexpected place, telling your team how awesome they are.

4. Give them more time off. Our creative director has gone to Hong Kong for her Christmas break. On leaving, we decided to give her an extra week of paid leave - for no particular reason other than we appreciate the work that she does and the spirit she brings to her role. 

5. Ensure that your office has a Christmas tree and ask your team whether they want someone to come in and deliver one, or would they like to decorate it themselves - as a team - and enjoy the festive spirit.

6. Play Christmas carols in the office.

7. Put Berocca on their desks after a big night out and a couple of Panadol. I know first hand how much someone appreciates that!

8. Sit down one on one with your team, and ask them about their dreams and aspirations. Where do they want to be in five years time and how can you help them get there. Never do this in a boardroom or in the office. Go out and have a coffee or sit in a park with them. 

9. Bring in lunch for everyone as a surprise.

10. Buy a Christmas cake for each person to take home to their family. Something that everyone can enjoy.

It's always the small things that people remember. Merry Christmas!

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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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