Whilst Thursday 12th December was just another door to open on our advent calendars, for Swavesey Village College in Cambridge it was something much more exciting. After entering Rayburn Tours’ competition for one school to win a staffroom Christmas party, it was their name that was pulled from the hat, so to speak!
With over 230 entrants from schools around the UK, Maxine Wyatt was just one of many Swavesey teachers in the mix, who was later crowned the lucky winner on social media. Cue celebratory hashtags and festive emojis! And after setting the date, it was all system’s go for prepping the ultimate Crimbo party!
When Thursday morning arrived, ‘Rayburners’ Siobhan, Nicky and I packed up the car Tetris-style with platters of food, clinking prosecco bottles and festive decorations, before setting our sat nav to Cambridge. It wasn’t quite the dreamy, Americanised film drive we’d hoped for. Rather a very rainy, British drive in an unfamiliar rental car, with Nicky frequently reaching for the gear stick in an automatic. Nevertheless, we made it in plenty of time, with Andy Williams’ It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year keeping our spirits up.
Rocking up to the school in our Christmas jumpers, we were met by teacher Claire Newman, who kindly brought out the kitchen trolley to help take all the food and drink to the staffroom. With smiles creeping up on the faces of staff at the amount of food (and particularly drinks) we were bringing out, the buzz of excitement was already building.
It was at this point we reminded her that there was no catch. No small print. It was all free – and it was theirs!
‘I just can’t believe we won!’ said Claire, as she led us through the corridors to the staffroom.
With a few members of staff sipping cups of tea to the left of us, we got to work with the decorating! It wasn’t long before the walls were decked out in paper snowflakes, glittery Santa-themed bow ties and festive banners; with colourful balloons dotted around the room. You never outgrow balloons.
Claire came in with a Christmas tree and lights, as well as a fitting metal ‘Bar’ sign to be placed by the copious amounts of prosecco, beer, wine and soft drinks. Whilst across the room, Siobhan and Nicky were laying out a long table of party food favourites. We’re talking platters of filled sandwiches, crisps, pork pies, potato salad, cupcakes, mince pies (of course) and more. Basically a beautiful table of beige, brightened by the fruit kebabs.
And after solving the mystery of the missing cheese and sausage rolls – they’d simply got left behind at reception – it was a buffet fit for the Swavesey staff.
With classic Christmas tunes pumping out from the complimentary speaker, and Claire rallying the staff, the staffroom soon became a lively hub of Christmas merriness!
We donned our Santa (and turkey) hats and played bar staff for the afternoon, greeting each member with a glass of bubbly. With more people spilling through the door, more sandwiches were scoffed and mince pies munched, with the prosecco going down a treat. Even those on detention duty made it out for a quick nibble! And I couldn’t help but notice the PE department volleying some balloons across the room. Brilliant.
In between photographing, Boomeranging, Facebooking and Instagramming the festivities (sorry to those caught mid-eating), we all enjoyed mingling with the staff – making sure to keep drinks topped up – before rounding them up for a group photo. Siobhan even managed to snap some shots of them sporting the Christmassy photo booth props! Because who doesn’t like to throw on some reindeer antlers?
As we left them to keep the party vibes going, everyone was truly thankful and had a cracking time. And we were glad to have brought some festive fun to all the hard-working staff as they wound down for Christmas. Bidding them goodbye, we headed back to Derby, which brought one slightly unwelcome mystery: where are the car keys?*
Wishing everyone at Swavesey Village College and teachers across the UK and beyond a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
*They were lodged underneath the seat. Facepalm.