British Glam Rock band, Wizzard famously sang “I wish it could be Christmas everyday” in their 1973 hit. Well for Susan Tapper and her team at Celebrations Group, it almost is. As the number one go-to for most of New Zealand’s councils, shopping centres, business associations and corporates, they live, breathe and plan Christmas all year, bringing it alive in magical installations all over New Zealand and the Pacific Islands every festive season.
The Celebrations team executes everything from elaborate Santa’s grottos, to 12 metre high Christmas trees, and bows and gift boxes the size of buildings. It’s almost guaranteed that most of the New Zealand population will have experienced their work somewhere, be it the base of Auckland’s Sky Tower, in their local mall – or even at the airport.
While being ‘Santa’s Elves’ is definitely hard work, the Celebrations Group never tire of making Christmas happen all over New Zealand. “We work after everyone’s gone home, knowing we’re guaranteed to invoke wonder and delight, in both kids and adults, when they catch their first glimpse of the magic we’ve created.”
It all started for Susan after completing a graphic design degree and going into visual merchandising. When an opportunity to work in Australia fell through, she bought a small client base and the rest – as they say – is history. “My first job was for Carter Holt Harvey and it involved carving a realistic looking tree out of polystyrene.” says Susan. I’m not sure I knew what I was doing but somehow I pulled it off and the next thing I knew I was being asked to wrap the whole of the Auckland Ferry Buildings for an installation for Philips. The jobs were big and creative from the get-go and I was probably a bit naive, taking on anything that was asked. But I always figured it out and created something the client really loved.”
Things have progressed a lot in the 23 years since that polystyrene tree and the company has grown from a one woman band to a team of 10 (this swells to 30 plus at Christmas) “We’ve been through mergers, started new parts of the business and acquired skills we never knew existed. It’s been a lot of fun and just keeps getting better, and more creative, with each new client and brief.”
No two days are the same. Susan still devises the creative concepts but is now proud to have an excellent team to help her execute in locations all over the country. We have people who are amazing at operations, freight, health and safety, warehousing, creative concepts, detail and execution. I’m proud of their ability to work so well under pressure, they think fast on their feet and improvise brilliantly if needed. Every single person on my team loves to see that smile – firstly on the client’s, and then on the kids faces when an installation is finally in place, so it’s worth the late nights.”
Email: [email protected]
Phone (+64) 9 302 8790
18 Frost Road, Mt Roskill
P O Box 56666 Dominion Rd,
Auckland 1446 New Zealand