by Jennifer Landis
Your goal is to finish out the year as a holiday cheer champion and to be so productive and positive upper management can’t help but notice your moving motivation — which hopefully leads to a promotion or extra holiday cash. Many companies are now moving beyond the simple “happy holidays” well-wishing and offering other seasonal perks, including bonuses and annual holiday parties.
They say, “What goes around comes around,” so you’ve decided to step up your Claus Karma and spread holiday cheer. Besides, a smile goes a long way to making someone’s day better. No one likes a Grinch, but at the same time, no one likes a brown-nosing elf made of glitter, ribbons and reindeer tails. Here’s a guide to spreading holiday cheer without being obnoxious.
Office Holiday Cheer Step 1: When You Say It, Mean It
Start by saying “Happy holidays!” occasionally to your coworkers and boss. Be authentic with your words.
Respect various faiths, and don’t be afraid to ask about others’ holiday traditions. For example, a Wiccan might celebrate Yule, so you would say “Happy Yule!” or “Good Yule!” You’ll learn more about how others celebrate, and will add new holiday cheer phrases to your vocabulary.
If others don’t feel like sharing their traditions, respect that, too. You typically can’t go wrong with an earnest “Happy new year!”
Office Holiday Cheer Step 2: Bake Cookies
Everyone loves freshly baked cookies, and those with dietary restrictions don’t have to be out in the cold. Bake chocolate chip cookies for everyone else, and start with considering these recipes for those with unique dietary needs.
- Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies: Use one bowl to mix sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and other ingredients with pumpkin, adding dry ingredients and then almond milk. You’ll freeze and bake these, and finally add homemade buttercream frosting to the top.
- Gluten-Free Gingerbread Men (and Women): You’ll want to bite their heads off, too! Using all-purpose gluten-free flour, you’ll incorporate such ingredients as xanthan gum, cinnamon, ginger, salt, butter, molasses, honey and baking soda. Cut the cookie dough out with a gingerbread man mold. Chilling the dough helps firm it up before baking. After the cookies come out of the oven, all you have to do is decorate them — and not eat them all yourself.
Office Holiday Cheer Step 3: Holiday Decoration Adoption Box
Gather interest in your department, and suggest everyone bring in a few old, unwanted decorations in fair condition to trade. Place these holiday baubles up for “adoption” in a box, letting coworkers pick out what they want to deck the halls in your office. Donate any leftover décor to the local charity shop.
With a decoration trade, old ornaments don’t end up in the landfill, and coworkers don’t have to spend even more money on decorating, especially when other obligations take priority.
Office Holiday Cheer Step 4: Optimize Productivity While Decorating
When decorating, optimize your workspace productivity. Adding decorations to clutter will only turn the decorations into clutter, too.
Here’s a sample checklist to declutter and optimize your workspace or productivity before you decorate:
- Shred old records and recycle irrelevant papers.
- Replace multiple photo frames with a photo collage.
- Use desk trays and dividers to organize office supplies.
- Empty trash and wipe down surfaces, including office equipment.
- Tie up cables with zip ties, and use stick-on hooks to help renegade cords stick to their proper places.
- Remove clutter from drawers, and assign each drawer a designated purpose.
- Place items within easy reach, including cheat sheets, such as company extensions.
- Adjust your monitor and chair to comfortable levels.
- Hang decorations.
Won’t it be nice to come back from your holiday to a more organized office?
Office Holiday Cheer Step 5: Practice Safe, But Thoughtful, Gift-Giving
You likely have favorites at work, but for etiquette’s sake, reveal favoritism outside of work hours. Hand over more expensive or thoughtful gifts to coworker-friends in the parking lot or during a coffee break.
When you give gifts at work, it’s hard to guess what people will like when you don’t know all your coworkers well. That’s normal.
The key is to stay practical and neutral, while showing thoughtfulness where you can. Change up the typical holiday cheese tray in favor of healthy snacks such as nuts or dried fruit. Your coworkers will appreciate the nutritional and antioxidant boost. Most people don’t make healthy choices on the go, so a tropical dried fruit gift tray is both considerate and practical, and selections are typically handpicked for personal preference when it comes to flavor and arrangement.
For coworkers in your department, personalized stationery or gift cards for area coffee shops are also thoughtful and useful. If your coworker is a jokester, look for office supplies with a funny slant, such as stationery with a catchphrase on it. Save more expensive gifts for the boss. Try to appeal to everyone’s interests and personalities where possible.
Office Holiday Cheer Step 6: Create Professional Resolutions
You will only catch an annoyed glance if you hover outside of your boss’ door to proclaim your achievements this year. Likewise, if you paste on a smile and hand out singing cards filled with glitter, while tooting your professional horn, your coworkers will be less than impressed.
You’re more likely to make a positive holiday impact on yourself and others by creating professional resolutions. Start small, keep the number limited and make them achievable. Vow to say, “I can’t help you with that” when it comes to disengaging from the office gossip. Make plans to go to one networking event a month. Strategize on reframing negative thoughts into positive ones to stay focused when obstacles hold you back at work.
Office Holiday Cheer Step 7: Ugly Holiday Sweater Friday
Everyone loves casual Fridays, but the weekend before Christmas, start a tradition of Ugly Holiday Sweater Friday (known as Christmas Jumper Day to your British colleagues, benefiting Save the Children.) Ask others to participate and see if you can arrange a costume contest, or do it solo to give everyone in the office a good laugh. Smaller departments may have fun tree trimming a Charlie Brown tree for an hour while they wear ugly sweaters. Bonus points if the sweater lights up or is 3-D!
Don’t slack off the job while you share holiday cheer, and don’t get too obnoxious. Now is the time to stay focused on your job and make positive connections and resolutions. When handing out presents, treat everyone fairly, and give practical but thoughtful gifts that are neutral. If you have fun ideas to celebrate, speak up, but don’t hog the holiday limelight.
When you say “Happy holidays,” be sincere. Bake holiday cookies that meet different dietary needs. Even the grinchiest of office Grinches will catch themselves smiling, and besides, it’s the simple things you have to be grateful for that spread holiday cheer.
How does your office celebrate the end of a great year together? Share your office holiday cheer traditions in the comments below!