Decrease the Stress and Increase the Cheer During the Holidays

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While holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration and cheer, for many, it’s also a time of stress. This stress can stem from many sources—unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves to create the perfect holiday, an overabundance of events we need to attend, pressures to meet year-end goals at work, or even loneliness that many people who are missing or without loved ones face during the holidays.

While many of these stresses happen in the personal realm, they do have an impact on productivity at work, so it’s important to be careful not to add to this stress unintentionally, and to provide appropriate support that will keep your organization cheerful and productive.

Here are a few things you can do:

1. Schedule holiday events during business hours. People are already busy enough during the holidays, and adding one more event, even a fun one, just increases their feelings of stress. Many companies opt to schedule events after the holiday season, or if they do hold one during the holidays, they make it as low stress as possible.

2. Allow flexibility if you can. If it’s possible to allow for flexibility at your organization, the holidays are a time to do it. This can come in many forms like the ability to telecommute, flexible hours, or floating holidays. Floating holidays are particularly helpful for those who celebrate on different days and would rather spend Christmas Day or Christmas Eve keeping themselves busy with work.

3. Show your appreciation during holidays. This can be anything from something elaborate like a holiday gift or holiday snacks, to just a simple note of appreciation. A few kind actions or words go a long way when people are already overloaded.

4. Set a good example. If you’re stressed out during the holidays, chances are you’re stressing out people around you. Take care of yourself and do what you can to keep your stress under control so it doesn’t spread to the rest of the workplace. Taking care of yourself creates a healthier you and a healthier workplace.

5 Tips for Easy Workplace Gift Giving

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Want to bring a little cheer to your coworkers, but not sure how to go about giving gifts in the workplace? Here are 5 tips to make gift giving easy.

Get the scoop on what’s allowed and expected at your workplace. Are there rules against gift-giving in your workplace? Are gifts normally exchanged? Does the office or department do a Secret Santa gift exchange or white elephant party where you only need to bring one gift? If coworkers do exchange gifts, what kind of gifts do they normally give? Whatever the established norm, find out and stick to it.

Make your list and check it twice. According to workplace etiquette, you should not purchase a gift for anyone in a position above you. So take your boss off the list. You’ll want to include peers and subordinates who have been the most help to you during the year. But don’t deliberately exclude anyone to make a point. If you’re buying for everyone in your department, but a few people, they’re sure to find out, and it will damage your relationship with coworkers. If you have a coworker who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, it’s still good to give them a gift—just make sure your gift or card has a “Holiday” not a Christmas theme.

Be thoughtful about gifts. Buy or make something for each person that shows you really thought about them. You want it to be personal, but not extravagant. Things to consider are items that show you know their favorite hobbies, cool office gadgets, homemade goods, gift cards, plants, or a handwritten card. Things you want to avoid are inappropriate or gag gifts, alcohol, or overly personal items like body soaps or pajamas.

Don’t make a show of giving gifts. Give each gift in private, so that no one feels left out.

Don’t feel obligated to buy. If gifts are out of your budget, you’re absolutely not obligated to buy gifts. If you feel like you have to give something, a handwritten card is a great and thoughtful gift that will show people you’re thinking about them without blowing your budget.

Six Tips for Surviving the Office Holiday Party

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Tis’ the season for office holiday parties. Here are a few tips for getting through the party with your career in tact.

1. Go! While many of us, especially the more introverted types, might consider skipping a social work event, we strongly advise that you do not skip your holiday party. It could have a negative impact on management’s perception of you. It’s important to go for at least an hour. But on the other side of that, don’t stay out all night with coworkers.

2. Embrace moderation. If alcohol is offered, drink in moderation (regardless of what your boss or others do). You don’t want to be the topic of office gossip Monday morning. And if you do drink, make sure you have a way home. The worst possible thing you can do is drive yourself home from an office party while under the influence.

3. Dress appropriately. Find out what the expected attire will be and stick to it. Don’t wear jeans to a fancy event. If it’s an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, dust yours off and put it on. And while a party is a time for festive wear, this isn’t the time to break out the club clothes. If something is tighter or shows more skin than what you would wear at the office, it’s not appropriate for the office party.

4. Be ready to talk. This is your chance to talk to people with whom you don’t normally get to interact. Introduce yourself. Be ready with things to talk about. But make sure it’s not just shop talk. Don’t be the boring person at the party that corners everyone to talk about work.

5. Know who’s invited. Find out if this is the kind of party where you can bring a significant other before you extend an invitation. If you’ve just started dating someone new, you might consider leaving them at home. Office parties are awkward, and not a great place to bring a new date.

6. Say thank you. It’s a lot of work and a lot of money to put together a holiday party. Be sure to thank the boss and the organizers for putting it together for you.