5 Rules for Celebrating Holidays in the Workplace

By Tamiera Vandegrift on December 18, 2017

Holiday season is here once again! As the corny radio jingles love to remind the world every winter, December is the most wonderful time of the year! Once November officially ends, television commercials, residential properties, and shopping centers all adopt the same vibrant shades of red and green. The outdoor temperatures drop tremendously and eggnog is, again, a new trend. Indeed, December is the most festive time of year. However, it is also a very hectic, stressful time of celebration for everyone – especially those celebrating in the workforce.

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Celebrating one of the most festive holidays can be extremely awkward with the addition of uncomfortable, forced activities and gift exchanges. However, celebrating holidays in the workplace doesn’t ever have to be miserable. In fact, there are ways to make it fun provided that some rules are set in place. What kind of rules? Keep reading for all of the rules that must be followed to have an enjoyable (and not awkward) holiday season in the workplace.

Don’t Force the Holiday Spirit on Everyone

Everyone celebrates the holidays differently. Some enjoy putting together a huge holiday party for everyone and their mother to enjoy. Others prefer a quiet night in with loved ones. Others don’t like to celebrate at all. It’s important for everyone in the workplace to respect each other’s wishes regarding this holiday. If one coworker isn’t interested in attending the office holiday dinner party or other festivities, leave them be. Sure, people who enjoy these festivities might see nothing wrong with trying to persuade another coworker to come out and spend time in good company, but there are a lot of circumstances to consider here.

Maybe that person had some sort of difficult experience on a holiday. Maybe they worship another religion that forbids them from participating in specific festivities. Maybe they don’t have the financial means to celebrate. Or maybe they just aren’t interested – and that’s as good of a reason as any. Being respectful is one of the most important rules during this time of year. All employees are allowed to celebrate the holiday however they choose to – even if that means not celebrating at all.

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Remember Gift-Giving Etiquette

Gift exchanging of any kind can be tricky – let alone in the workplace, so here are some rules to follow regarding etiquette. First, don’t get a gift for your boss. Your heart is definitely in the right place, but doing so would put your boss in a difficult position. The reason for this is the power dynamic in the boss-employee relationship. Managers and supervisors have a certain amount of control over their employees, so they, by ethical standards, should not be rewarded for their position of authority. With that being said, if you want to spread the holiday cheer to your employer, consider buying a holiday-themed card and leaving a sincere message on the inside or share baked goods with them when you bring treats into the office.

For your coworkers, the best way to exchange gifts is through the always popular game of “Secret Santa.” Here’s how the game works. Everyone who wants to play randomly picks the name of another willing participant.  Once every player has picked a person, they go out and buy a gift for the person they’ve chosen. For this game to be successful, first, notice the key words wants and willing. Make sure everyone who is playing actually wants to be a part of the game. Nobody should be forced or bullied into doing it. Next, stick to a price cap. Typically, this is $20 or $30. Everyone must obey the price cap! Third, and most importantly, the game is called “Secret Santa” for a reason! Don’t tell anyone who you’re buying a gift for or it ruins the fun! It’s also smart to start the game early so that everyone has enough time to get their gift.

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Behave Appropriately at Holiday Functions

You’re an adult now. Behave yourself at these functions. More than likely, there could be alcohol available for everyone’s enjoyment. Don’t overdo it! Yes, it’s acceptable to have a drink or two, but remember that this is a workplace, not a bar on a Friday night. You are in a professional environment so you need to remember to uphold a professional, responsible image. After too many drinks, you’ll begin to forget what’s appropriate and what isn’t and that could result in the loss of your job. So, by all means, get into the holiday spirit. Just know your limits!

Don’t Forget Responsibilities

When the office is full of eggnog and Rachel from down the hall is wearing a blinking ornament sweater and reindeer earrings, it’s easy to forget that you’re here to work not to watch “Elf” three times in a row with Rob from next door. Don’t forget that you’re here to work too and that the productivity of your company cannot suffer because of your holiday spirit. Don’t let yourself fall behind. If you’re finding yourself in a pinch because of the holiday festivities, consider working around them. Try getting to work a little bit earlier than your coworkers so that you’re free from distractions. Or, consider working ahead so that you have some time to enjoy the fun stuff. Just don’t forget what you clocked in there to do: work and be the best you can be.

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Remember What It’s All About

Even though it can be a hectic, stressful time in everyone’s lives, we love the holiday season because of its message. It’s a time to take a moment and shower both yourself and those around you with some love and TLC. At the end of the year, it’s time to reflect on life and appreciate everything we have. Show a little extra love to your coworkers and enjoy the holiday season.

Happy holidays!

Tamiera is an alumna of Florida State University, having earned a BA in Editing, Writing & Media and a BA in Digital Media Production. Tamiera is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter, inspired by the works of Lars von Trier, David Fincher, and Darren Aronofsky. Tamiera has previously written for the FSView and Florida Flambeau, College Magazine, and more. She has recently published a creative thesis containing short stories based on mental illnesses in the media. In the future, Tamiera aspires to win "Best Original Screenplay" or "Best Picture" at the Academy Awards with one of her film projects. Besides writing and storytelling, Tamiera enjoys cooking, traveling, spending time with friends, and geeking out over movie trivia.

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