A Christmas Retro

It’s getting christmassy in my corner of the world. Red, green, glittery. Old bearded men in red overalls 😉

So, just in case you are looking for ideas for a Christmas themed retro to end the year with, here’s the bonus Christmas retro from my new book “Plans for Retrospectives“.

[Disclaimer: This plan is from a chapter on how to create custom activities and it is tailored to German holiday traditions. Adapt to your culture’s storylines as needed.]

A Christmas Retro

Pre-Corona I would have brought ginger bread, fir branches for the smell and flickering light to invoke the holiday spirit. Since Corona numbers are high in Germany, I’ll try to create a cozy background for the video call. I might go with a fireplace or a Christmas tree. Also, there’s one team I might ask to dress up – either truly festive or “Ugly Christmas Sweater” style.

When planning this retro I looked through all activities in “Set the stage” to make one christmassy. None seemed fitting. One search for “Christmas retrospective” later, I see Santa faces and voila:

Emoticon Project Gauge (#32) goes Christmas

10 min | Andrew Ciccarelli

Search and print images of Santa looking

• shocked / surprised
• nervous / stressed
• unempowered / constrained • confused
• happy
• mad
• overwhelmed

Let each team member choose which Santa reflects how they feel about the iteration. They can also give a short reason, if they want to.

Letter to Santa

20 min | Corinna Baldauf

Hand out pens and paper. Give the team members 10 minutes to write a letter to Santa Claus making one big wish for the team. When everyone is done, go around the circle and read out the letters. Are there common themes? The following activity will work better if several participants make the same wish.

Wish granted (#50)

15-20 minutes | Source: Lydia Grawunder & Sebastian Nachtigall

Give participants 2 minutes to silently ponder the following question: ‘Santa grants your wish and it comes true overnight. You come to work the next morning. How can you tell that Santa granted your wish? What is different now?’ Let everyone describe their ‘Wish granted’-workplace. Participants with the same wish can imagine and describe together. (You need breakout rooms for this in a remote setting.)

The more details people describe the more tangible and desirable this future becomes. Keep asking people what they will see, hear, smell, how they’ll behave, … It will lead to better action items.

Be the elf you wish to see in the world

15-20 min | Corinna Baldauf

Alas, we all know that Santa Claus isn’t real. Invite the team to be their own Christmas elves. What can they do to turn their wishful future into reality. How can they get one step closer? If there are many suggestions, dotvote which action items the team is going to implement.

Emoticon Project Gauge (#32) goes Christmas – again

5 min | Andrew Ciccarelli

Reuse the Santa faces from the beginning. This time ask which Santa reflects how they feel about the retrospective.

If you can, spend some more time in each other’s company. Maybe your organization sent out Christmas packages and you can all share the same cookies or drink the same punch together?

2020 sure was a weird year. And this Christmas will be very different for many of us. I hope that even with fewer people it will be full of love.

Happy holidays & stay safe!

PS: Did you know there's a Retromat eBook Bundle? Ready-made retrospective plans for beginners and all activities from Retromat for experienced facilitators. Check out the Retromat books