The Michelmores’ Christmas Bazaar – Far from your average day in the office…

Thursday 5th December 2013 at half past nine in the morning, amongst the hustle and bustle of boxes being brought in and tables being set up, the Michelmores conservatory was being transformed into a Winter wonderland for our annual Christmas Bazaar.

The Christmas Bazaar has traditionally been the responsibility of the first year trainees and last year was no exception. We met in late October with the second year trainees and quizzed them as to the format, organisation and any tips from last year’s event. We were then on our own, tasked with the slightly daunting (and rather exciting) job of organising one of the largest internal events on the Michelmores calendar, whilst at the same time being challenged with raising even more money for our charity, Families for Children, than last year’s trainees.

We got about organising and assigning roles. Not only does the organisation of the Bazaar allow the trainees to get to know each other fairly well in the first few months of their training contract, but is also a great opportunity to get to know everyone in the firm. I was responsible for the design of the poster and general advertising for the event, securing a raffle prize and the task of persuading a couple of local celebrities to come along and support our cause.

The organisation went surprisingly smoothly with fortnightly meetings to update each other as to progress. Raffle prizes were soon coming in thick and fast and stallholders were being secured. Posters were up around the firm and raffle tickets were being sold (with varying degrees of sales patter)…the buzz had started!

As the weeks went on, Father Christmas (and his Elf) were persuaded into attending and drawing the raffle tickets on the day, all the stallholders were confirmed and logistics were being sorted. One of the highlights of the Bazaar was the Great Michelmores Bake-Off whereby members of staff were invited to submit their best baking efforts before an esteemed panel of judges.

The Wednesday afternoon was a hive of activity with all first year trainees taking on roles completely outside the remit of being a trainee. A prime example was that I (along with our caretaker) had to hang fairy lights during the afternoon, which I might add, was not at all conducive to work attire, but nevertheless great fun.

Finally, after much anticipation, the big day had arrived. Once everyone had quickly checked their emails and dealt with any urgent matters, set-up could begin. From serene conservatory to busy Christmas market, it did not take long for the delicious smell of mulled wine and the sound of festive music to reach all corners of the building and tempt everyone to come and see what all the fuss was about.

The Bazaar had begun! Families for Children, along with the rest of the stallholders were selling their wares. We were lucky enough to have two well-known faces and Patrons of Families for Children support the day; Michael Caines, the celebrity chef, and David Lawrence-Jones, a local children’s author were our VIPs. David brought along some of his books, which sold very well and Michael kindly made up the panel of judges for the bake off as well as drawing some of the raffle tickets. We were also very grateful to the Minstrelmores (our award winning in-house choir) for providing us with some beautiful singing.

The bake-off was judged and winners were announced and awarded with medals. Raffle prizes were handed out, the highlight of which was a luxury twilight package for two at Bath Spa. Staff continued to buy and enjoy the wonderful Christmas goodies that the stallholders had to offer.

After a hectic day, the Bazaar came to a close late in the afternoon. As everyone packed up, raffle prizes were delivered back to desks, and no more delicious cake could be eaten by anyone, it was over. Several months in the planning and our first organised event as a team had come to an end. We counted up the money and raised a staggering £1044 for Families for Children, which was gratefully received just before Christmas, invariably a very busy time for the charity.

I would like to say a huge thank you to my fellow first year trainees for their hard work, dedication and commitment in organising such a successful event. Thanks also goes out to Michael and David for supporting the event and most importantly all the Michelmores’ staff for attending. We will hand the Christmas Bazaar baton onto next year’s trainees and challenge them to raise even more money for Macmillan, our new charity in 2014. The Christmas Bazaar certainly is a fantastic opportunity to organise a great event in your first few months as a trainee and I thoroughly enjoyed it!