6 Rules for Dealing With the Holiday Season at Work

The holiday season can be a very tricky time in the workplace. All those holiday parties, gift exchanges, feeding frenzies, and other holiday celebrations can get in the way of normal work activities, resulting in a significant loss of productivity. They can also make your colleagues who don't observe the same holidays or celebrate them differently uncomfortable.

Don't let all the festivities get in the way of regular business operations—most organizations can't afford to take the month of December off. We should also respect our coworkers with whom we must share workspace for the other 11 months of the year. Here are six rules to help you deal with the holiday season at work.

1
Keep Holiday Gift Giving Reasonable

Coworkers celebrating the holidays
Coworkers share a holiday celebration. Reggie Casagrande / Photolibrary/ Getty Images

Every year, as the holiday season approaches, you may get the sweats thinking about buying gifts for your coworkers. Do you have to buy one for everyone? That can get very expensive. If you work with a lot of people, this can get way out of hand and cause financial problems.

Don't break your budget or expect anyone else to break his or hers. Instead of buying a present for every one of your coworkers, consider starting a secret gift exchange, sometimes called a Secret Santa. Here's how it works. Each person who wants to participate randomly chooses the name of another participant. Note, the magic words: wants to participate. Anyone who doesn't want to take part should not be forced or shamed into doing it.

Once everyone has chosen another person, he or she should go out and buy something for him or her. For this to work well, you must set a price range for gifts, and everyone should stick to it. Don't forget why this is called a secret. If you tell anyone whose name you got, it will no longer be one. It's wise to get started on this early to give everyone enough time to go shopping!

2
Keep Holiday Feeding Frenzies to a Minimum

Holiday Desserts
Huw Jones / Photolibrary

Food is all over the place during the holidays. There's no easy way to escape all the treats that seem to appear everywhere between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the new year—even in the workplace.

If you are trying to stick to a healthy diet, you will have your work cut out for you. Clients and vendors send goodies to the office. Coworkers love to share their favorite holiday foods. How can you avoid a steady five-week diet of sweets? You can't stop clients and vendors from sending in treats when they feel like it, but you can do something about your generous coworkers.

Create a schedule that allows each person to bring in treats on a different day. Hopefully, you will be able to limit this to only a few days each week. Remember that not everyone will want to partake and you must respect that. You can also keep non-perishable gifts sent by clients for March or April after everyone has had a chance to get back to healthier eating for a bit.

3
Don't Let the Holidays Get in the Way of Work

A network administrator working on a computer
Erik Isakson / Blend Images / Getty Images

Try not to forget that you are at work to...well...work. It may be hard not to get carried away by all the festivities, but you have a job to do, and so does everyone else. Don't let yourself fall behind.

If holiday celebrations are taking over your workplace and making it difficult to focus, you might want to try a temporary solution. One thing you can do is get to work earlier than your coworkers a few days a week. That will give you some quiet time to be productive.

4
Be Mindful of Your Workplace's Holiday Culture

Coworkers After Work
Roy Mehta / Taxi / Getty Images

Some employers give their workers some leeway when it comes to celebrating the holidays during the workday. Others don't care whether it's December or September—work hours are for work only. Be mindful of your workplace's holiday culture.

If it's a new job, notice what your colleagues are doing. If they are pretty low-key when it comes to celebrating in the office, follow their lead. If you want to enjoy the holidays with them, consider getting together after work hours to share a holiday meal or exchange gifts.

5
Respect Your Coworkers' Religious Beliefs

Diverse Workplace
Sam Edwards / OJO Images / Getty Images

Not everyone celebrates the same holidays, and even those who do may celebrate differently. Some people, for personal reasons, even choose not to celebrate at all.

Keep that in mind. Respect the wishes of your coworkers who prefer to abstain from the festivities. Encourage everyone to share their own holiday traditions. More

6
Behave Properly at the Office Holiday Party

Office Party
Oppenheim Bernhard / Stone / Getty Images

Have fun at the office holiday party, but don't forget it is a work-related event. What happens at the office party, certainly won't stay at the office party. Don't do anything that will jeopardize your professional reputation.

Limit your alcohol consumption, don't flirt, dress appropriately, and try to get to know your colleagues outside a work environment. It's a good time to inquire about their vacation plans, outside interests, and families. More

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