Pearl the Puffin got a new season-appropriate look

One of the best things about this time of year is the excuse to give your surroundings a cheerful boost. Whatever occasion you celebrate around the winter solstice, there’s opportunity to spice things up with creative decor — and when we say creative, we mean it.

In response to our call for submissions of the best workplace decorations around Philadelphia, readers showed off some impressive seasonal flair.

Common themes among the nominations include the usual — snowflakes, candy canes, fireplace stockings, etc. — but also the less expected. There are animals dressed up for a snow day, and a chocolate kiss personified. Leg lamps make multiple showings, as does the city’s favorite orange mascot.

Here’s how eight Philly-area offices dressed up for the holidays this year.

Broad Street Ministry

Where: Broad and Spruce, Center City
Submitted by: Julia Morales
Decorated by: Each office occupant

Credit: Broad Street Ministry

At this multi-service facility that helps Philly’s most vulnerable find food, seek comfort and get back on their feet, staff held a door decorating contest. It was “a great way for our team to get in the holiday spirit during what can be a pretty challenging time of year for us,” said development coordinator Julia Morales.

Credit: Broad Street Ministry

Along with the expected holiday greetings and red and green glitter, there’s a Hannukah-themed manger scene spoof, and a leg lamp deftly constructed from wrapping paper and cotton. Said Morales: “I hope the pics make someone smile!”

Jefferson University Hospitals

Where: 9th and Chestnut, Center City
Submitted by: Imani P.
Decorated by: Joseph G.

Credit: Imani P.

Imani P. doesn’t actually celebrate Christmas — but after the staff in the office at 833 Chestnut St went all out, Imani definitely appreciated the change in mood.

Credit: Imani P.

“I enjoy seeing people’s creative side,” Imani wrote, “especially when it’s a manager. Knowing that people in upper management like to let their hair down … helps to break the negative stigma often associated with corporate America!”

Punch Media

Where: 3rd and Church, Old City
Submitted by: Emily Marmion
Decorated by: Join effort, spearheaded by “Boss Man” James Zeleniak

Credit: Emily Marmion

Judging from some email back-and-forth, staffer Emily Marmion submitted her Old City communications agency’s decorations without her boss knowing. Luckily — and unsurprisingly, since he was the one in charge of the decor — he didn’t seem to mind.

What the best part? In Marmion’s words: “It’s truly hard to decide between the twinkling kangaroo” — which hails from a coworker’s hometown in Adelaide, Australia — “and the one-armed mannequin clad in red bikini and antlers.”

Wagner Free Institute of Science

Where: 17th and Montgomery, North Central
Submitted by: Coryn Wolk
Decorated by: Coryn Wolk

Credit: Coryn Wolk

Visitors to this 19th century natural history museum may notice that Pearl, the front-desk puffin, has been tricked out with winter garb and special lights in honor of the season.

Program coordinator Coryn Wolk, who worked with scrap supplies from the children’s education department to give Pearl her new look, noted that she opted for for appeal instead of physiological accuracy when she dressed the taxidermied animal. “I have no idea if the earmuffs are placed over her actual ears,” Wolk said. “Hopefully, an ornithologist will add that information to this project!”

Kids often take note of Pearl, Wolk added, asking if the puffin is real (yes), if she’s dead (yes), and if staff killed her (no).

Philadelphia Inquirer Media Lab

Where: 8th and Market, Center City
Submitted by: Sara Pfefer
Decorated by: The Creative Team, Media Lab: Shannon, Jene, Jeanine, Alexus, Ashley, Zeynep, Andrew, Jen, Paul, Anthony and Sara

Credit: Sara Pfefer

Nearly a dozen team members chipped in to turn the Inquirer’s Media Lab into “Candy Lab,” a life-size Candyland takeoff. What was the motivating factor behind all the effort? It’s for a good cause.

“Everyone enters to vote for the best decorations by putting in canned goods,” explained graphic designer Sara Pfefer, “and all of the cans collected will be donated to Philabundance!”

Credit: Sara Pfefer

Extra points for the life-sized poop emoji…er, Hershey’s Kiss.

Arcweb Technologies

Where: 3rd and Market, Old City
Submitted by: Kurt Schiller
Decorated by: JoAna and Nicole

Credit: Kurt Schiller

Proving you can go overboard with decorations while maintaining a sleek and fashionable vibe is this Old City design and dev firm. Staff didn’t hold back on the lunch area, where the company gathers every Friday for a meal together.

Per marketing director Kurt Schiller, there are lights all over the place, wreaths on all the wood pillars, and lots of hanging snowflakes — which gave turned into an unusual workplace hazard. “I’m tall,” Schiller said, “so I kept walking into the snowflakes over and over again.”

Comcast Center’s Data Solutions Team

Where: 17th and JFK, Center City
Submitted by: Miguel Rivera
Decorated by: Whole team

Credit: Miguel Rivera

This Comcast data solutions team consolidated an impressive amount of pop culture in their decorated wall.

If you can’t tell, that sportsball-headed being atop the mantle is Santa Elf Gritty Wilson, per Miguel Rivera — which we now declare the official mascot of fake fireplace displays everywhere.


Where: King of Prussia
Submitted by: Ellie Delany
Decorated by: A lot of people

Marketing coordinator Ellie Delany didn’t include any description of what motivated her and her colleagues to go all out at their office, but the result seems a ton more fun than the payment processing they work on the rest of the year. (No offense meant, folks who nerd out over secure data programming.)

Credit: Sara Pfefer

The giant Polar Express display was an especially nice touch.

Credit: Sara Pfefer

Danya Henninger is director and editor of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation — including the membership program. She is a former food...