How to Celebrate the Holidays at Work Well
Ah, the holidays. It’s a time for coming together, drinking festive beverages, eating festive food, juggling crazy schedules, and spending too much on holiday gifts. Or if you don’t celebrate the holidays, you’re just made to feel everyone is forcing their cheer upon you.
Let’s face it. November through December is a sensitive time of year for many, due to stress (financial or emotional), feeling left out (for religious or social reasons), or an allergy to mistletoe. Employers want to acknowledge their employees for a job well done. But then, we worry about taking too much time away from the workweek while you’re simultaneously tying up loose ends for Q4, offending someone, or forcing people to participate in something they don’t enjoy for the sake of checking a box. Enter ye olde White Elephant gift exchange, forced and stiff holiday office parties, and a laundry list of other tired old office traditions. Why do we do this to ourselves at the busiest time of the year?
The truth of the matter is humans need connection; they need community. Celebrating the holidays is an excellent opportunity to encourage motivation and team building. During this time of year, we have the chance to increase morale and productivity with celebration. But perhaps it’s time we reframe how we look at the standard office end-of-year celebration.
Time is very precious during this time of year. Be mindful your team is juggling a lot.
Thanks goes a long way. Specific gratitude goes even further. Pointing out a job well done or positive quality in a coworker will lift their spirits. You never know, that person may have needed an extra lift.
Poll the room.
Take a moment to ask your team how and when to celebrate. I’ve worked in offices that celebrate their accomplishments after the New Year when January is slow, and everyone has less on their minds. Maybe everyone secretly hates the required office party altogether, and you can instead invest that money in a new Keurig for the break room. Or perhaps a gift exchange is everyone’s favorite day of the year. How will you know unless you ask? Every office is different. Talk to each other to discover what is essential and the best time and way to celebrate.
Form a team of volunteers to plan.
Depending on the size of your organization, this may be one person or ten people. Don’t force anyone to take on tasks they do not enjoy. And don’t get stuck with the same faces ordering the same cheese plate year after year.
If you ignore the ways we are different, it will create problems. Organizations include people of different religious and cultural backgrounds. Perhaps Josie unknowingly scheduled last year’s Thanksgiving celebration during Ramadan. Maybe Bob in sales is allergic to gluten and peanuts, and he nearly had an issue last year when no one told him what was in the cookies. If you have the same person or people handling your celebration every year, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to connect to all of your people. Get new voices and opinions flowing through the organization. Connect with your team as individuals, and it may have a more significant impact on the collective voice of your organization.
Keep it light.
Don’t bring up the looming project deadline during a holiday party. Don’t drink too much (it still happens, so it bears repeating!) Stay open to mixing it up.
You have an opportunity to make this year easier, more fun, lighter, and more connected to the people within your organization. Take an added beat to reevaluate your end-of-year celebrations. Reflect on how you and your team have grown. Start next year with a deepened connection to your organization and its purpose.
Happy Thanksgiving, all! May your holiday season be a breeze.