Your 2012 Workplace Holiday Survival Guide

Imagine an exciting holiday party in a locale off the beaten path. You’re enjoying the festivities with your coworkers, including a live band playing holiday music and a team of dancers teaching everyone the Macarena, when suddenly one of your coworkers catches your eye. A typically quiet kind of guy, he is quiet no longer. This coworker tears off his shirt, jumps onto the stage, and hijacks the festivities with his own…unique…take. Although not what you expected, it certainly became a holiday party to remember!

Have you ever been in this situation? Or something like it? It’s a safe bet that many of us have been to a holiday party where one or two coworkers may be enjoying the party a bit…more…than others.

The holidays can be a busy, stressful time in our personal lives while we shop for gifts and get ready for the deluge of holiday parties and family, but they don’t have to be stressful in the workplace. With that in mind, I present you with the MAKE 2012 Workplace Holiday Survival Guide—a post dedicated to helping you maximize this time of year and enjoy the festivities that come with it.

Holiday Parties

Tips for Employers
Holiday parties can be a great opportunity to enjoy yourself a bit. Here are a few tips for employers:

  • Parties are a nice treat for your employees, and don’t make a huge dent in your costs. Consider closing your office early the day of yours so they can get ready and have enough time to get there.
  • Also, consider holding your holiday party on a weeknight. Knowing that they have to get up for work in the morning will help keep employees from enjoying themselves too much.
  • Another tip to help keep people from going a little overboard on the alcohol involves timing of the open bar, if you provide one. If your party starts early, say around 3 or 4pm, close the bar by 7 or 8pm so that they have enough time to clear their heads before the party ends.
  • Depending on the size of your business, consider using assigned seats for your team at the party. It can be a great way to get people who don’t normally interact to learn more about each other. It can also prevent workplace cliques from isolating themselves from other employees.

Tips for Employees
Okay, employees at all levels of the organization, here are some behavior tips to help make your holiday party enjoyable for everyone:

  • Have a great time—a light, joking atmosphere is important at holiday parties. Feel free to let your guard down a bit, but keep in mind that you are still at a workplace function. Conduct yourself accordingly (remember, you’re not with your college buddies—these are still your coworkers!).
  • Remember, what happens at the holiday party doesn’t always stay at the holiday party! One bad move could end up being water cooler fodder for months (or longer), so keep your head on straight and remember that your actions at the holiday party may have ramifications down the road.
  • Mingle with people you may not normally work with, and use this to your advantage! Most people are relaxed at holiday parties, so take the opportunity to talk to people you don’t ordinarily see every day. Members of the leadership team are of particular interest here—a quick conversation about your goals and successes with your boss’ boss could mean you are top of mind when the next promotion comes up!

Holiday Gifts

Every office is different when it comes to holiday gifts, but these tips can help you navigate the sometimes murky gift-giving waters:

  • If you’re new to your current employer, ask around to see what everyone does for holiday gifts. Small offices may do a gift exchange or they may give small gifts to everyone.
  • For employers, try to keep gift exchanges within reason, understanding that certain spending limits can apply to people.
  • Consider offering a “white elephant” gift, something kooky from your home (or that you’ve found elsewhere) that could make a funny gag gift for one of your coworkers. The expressions when people open some of these gifts can be incredibly funny, and it’s a great stress-buster.

The holidays don’t have to be a stressful time in your office. Hopefully these tips will help you navigate the season with ease. Do you have any interesting workplace holiday stories to share? We’d love to hear about them—let us know in the comments section below.