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Idea Fair

Santa 2020: Claus During the Pause

How has this idea enhanced your club's operation, etc.?

INTRODUCTION: The holiday season turns our already beautiful Clubhouse into something magical for our members—with a magnificent 18-foot Christmas tree in the lobby at the epicenter. During a normal December, thousands of members and their families visit to savor the sights and snap photos—and above all else, meet Santa. Members take photos of their children with the same jolly old elf that they themselves had their pictures taken with at one time over the past 43 years.

How was this idea implemented, and what have been the club members' reactions?

THE LOGISTICAL LUMP OF COAL: Yes, during a normal December. Because of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic and the state of Michigan’s executive order, our Family Christmas Open House couldn’t be as open. But our minds were opened to other possibilities. How can we maintain a tradition and stay within the restrictions of no indoor events and a maximum of 25 people at a single outdoor gathering?

PRESENTS OF MIND: We didn’t think outside the box— we thought outside the Clubhouse. Our open house morphed into a series of “Photos with Santa” events on our Pavilion right outside the Club. To stay within capacity restrictions, each family had five minutes to be quick with St. Nick. We decorated the space to exude the same magical décor and feeling of the Clubhouse, turning The Pavilion into a North Pole, complete with Mrs. Claus, cookies and punch and cocoa—and fire pits to keep warm. And each child got a special gift from Santa: a stuffed sloth—slow and snuggly.

E-SEES YOU WHEN YOU’RE SLEEPING: Santa sold out, leaving us to think up new ways to engage with more members, yet stay within restrictions. So we added:

  • Santa mail: Children could email Santa their wish list and receive a personalized email response, with a short video of Santa thanking the child.
  • Santa video: We also recorded Santa sitting in front of a fire in the Club reading The Night Before Christmas, then sent the video to all members.

RESULTS? WE’RE ON THE “NICE” LIST: Every family that attended thanked the staff for creating a way to still see Santa and keep a tradition going. Many asked whether we could keep the specific time frames to visit Santa in the future.

“Loved, loved the Santa experience this year. They felt like they were walking right into his home.”
“All went very smoothly on Tuesday night. We went into the Club to take a couple pictures by the beautiful Christmas tree. Santa came in and joined our photo. So much fun. I believe he was finished for the night. He really is the real Santa. Forty-three years of pictures in our DAC albums”
“ The sloths are great! The lucky recipients will absolutely adore them. Although we were not able to partake in the in-person event this year, the stuffed animals represent a meaningful continuation of a tradition we very much enjoy and look forward to participating in the future. A sincere thank you for making this happen. It is a very considerate gesture and affirms the many reasons why the DAC is such a special place to so many. Happy holidays to you, thanks again!”

About the author

Tai Tran

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