Christmas In July: How To Make Everyday Magic

It was a sweltering July day, the heat wave had been going on for weeks. We only had a window air conditioner in one room in the house. It was starting to feel crowded. My mom had used up her usual tricks to stay cool the library, the movies, peppermint stick ice cream with chocolate sprinkles. And then on the 25th of July, we woke up to Christmas carols blaring throughout the house, and the smell of French Toast and bacon. “No swimming lessons today girls, it’s Christmas in July.”

We ran downstairs and sure enough our kitchen table was covered in paper snowflakes and a small pile of fun little gifts. We forgot about the heat. What a morning what a mom.

Finding Christmas in July

Leaders create extraordinary. Magic moments require effort, not money. All told, I bet that “Christmas” cost less than $30, and yet it stands out more than the real deal.

Create leadership magic through:

  • Creativity
  • Absurdity
  • Surprise
  • Effort
  • Silly
  • Caring
  • Just-in-time support
What “Christmas in July” gifts have you given or received? Share your stories of low-cost creativity to lighten the mood and build teams.
Filed Under:   Developing Leadership In Children, Energy & Engagement
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

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What People Are Saying

Ali Anani (@alianani15)   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

Christmas in July- what a creative idea. I think I should write my next comment while asleep. Live white Christmas in July and live the experience of writing comments while in deep sleep. What ideas would come? Seeing the stars coming out of a sea brightening the night. This post is one of the stars.

Steve Borek   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

We need to be curious like children.

Next time you see a child, sit back and observe. Look how they show up. Playful, curious, no agenda, happy, unaffected, etc.

Low cost? It’s free.

Ali Anani (@alianani15)   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

I agree Steve. I know of few businesses who invite kids to brainstorming sessions and they do it repeatedly.
But beware of the unexpected. The other day I was invited to a lunch with few other people. In some places you are suppose to take out your shoes and all did. As we were leaving, one kid ran to the kitchen, grabbed a spoon and said “dad, here is the spoon”. But who told you I need a spoon? The kid replied “Well, you always use it at home to put on your shoes”.

Steve Borek   |   25 July 2013   |  


letsgrowleaders   |   25 July 2013   |  

Ali, Sleepy comments? Can’t wait ;-)

letsgrowleaders   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

Steve, Yes! I learn so much from Sebastian (7).

Bonnie Mann, CPA (@bonniemann)   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

We have few months every year that are so busy that we routinely work on Saturdays. This year our boss and two of our managers set up electric griddles in the break room and made us pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs on a Saturday morning. The cost of food was definitely less than giving everyone a bonus but I think that the being served breakfast by our boss made everyone almost as happy.

letsgrowleaders   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

Bonnie, Yes! My current gig is in call centers. Food (served with love and appreciation by leaders) is great recognition. Breaking bread helps.

Lily Kreitinger   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

Love the story, Karin! Now you got me thinking. How can I surprise my team?

letsgrowleaders   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

Lily, Can’t wait to see what you come up with ;-)

sue bock   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

What a way to make me smile today Karin. You were a very lucky girl to have a mom like that. She showed you want a true leader needs to be.

Sue Bock

Sarah Beckman   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

My hubby is a CEO of a small start up. This = no budget! We hosted a simple Christmas party at our home and had it inexpensively catered. But the most comments we heard were “thank you for inviting us into your home”. We were intentional about this choice in order to personalize it. We also gave everyone a small gift which was company branded M & Ms this was again minute in the scheme but added the personal touch.

This post is an excellent reminder of how we can think out of the box and keep the main thing the main thing : relationships and helping people feel valued. That is always a winning idea.

P.S. another option we chose for a sales meeting that was free was a scavenger hunt in the local business district. Amazingly funny stories and team building. FREE!

letsgrowleaders   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

Sarah, So great to hear from you. Hope all is well. What wonderful examples! I love to have my team to my home at Christmas… it’s hard to beat. My favorite boss did that early in my career… and I’ve done it ever since.

Matt McWilliams   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

I’ve done these:

After checking everyone’s calendars and seeing no one had any calls or meetings after 3:00pm, say at 2:00: “We’re wrapping up in an hour and going bowling.”

We gave a team member an X-Box as a reward for his hard work.

Surprise everyone with brand new equipment on Monday morning (not computers though…just things like chairs, etc. Computers can be a nightmare)

Chair massages in the middle of the day.

Numerous surprise catered lunches.

NCAA basketball tournament on a big screen for the second half of a game. It’s only an hour.

Any form of cake for the team. Yum.

letsgrowleaders   |   25 July 2013   |   Reply

Matt, NICE! Great examples. That, plus the practical jokes… gosh, I’m starting to think about working for you. ;-)