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How to Enjoy the Holidays on Your Terms at Work

In case you haven’t noticed, the holiday season is in full swing! Halloween wasn’t even fully over before turkeys and stockings rushed into spaces that moments ago housed skulls and cauldrons. And as we near the “traditional” holidays, we understand that not everyone has the same religious observances, if any at all. This can make the upcoming months tricky as companies are apt to throw holiday parties that are inclusive of some folks, but not all. Religious affiliations aside, other concerns are top of mind for folks, like beverage choices when you don’t drink alcohol, office gift exchanges when it may not be in your budget, or whether or not you’ll attend the company shindig at all. 

Here are some ways to enjoy the holiday season on your terms:

Advocate for yourself and others

  • When talks of holiday celebrations arise, ensure that all practices are included in the discussion.
  • Speak up about changing language. The company Christmas party can easily be changed to a Holiday party that is automatically inclusive of every faith that celebrates during this time of year.

Boundaries are cool

  • Some companies provide open or cash bars at holiday events, but that doesn’t mean you have to imbibe if it’s not your thing. Ask the bartender for a fancy mocktail and don’t feel like you have to explain your choices to anyone.
  • Office gifting can be a fun way to build camaraderie, but it can also be a source of stress, too. If the office decides to do something like a White Elephant exchange, suggest offering a sign-up sheet for those that want to participate instead of expecting everyone to play along.
  • If partying with your co-workers sounds like a good time, by all means, enjoy yourself! Don’t question folks who can’t or don’t want to join you, and encourage your colleagues to refrain from doing the same. Folks have a myriad of of reasons for not attending events after work or on weekends, with “I don’t want to” being reason enough.

I LOVE free food

  • This is the time of year when we see a lot of free treats in the break-room, someone inevitably suggests a pot-luck, and execs feel generous (and usually have excess budgets to spend) so they splurge on lunches for the entire office. If you have dietary restrictions, speak up! Or if you know of someone on the team that might be hesitant, suggest that gluten-free, Kosher, or non-pork options be added to the list.
  • The same goes for parties, too. It’s such a bummer to be at an event where everyone is enjoying noms and you can’t. 

It’s ok to not be ok 

  • Our good ‘ol friend Seasonal Depression likes to show up this time of year, affecting around 10% of the population (*raises hand* myself included).
  • Consider light therapy – we know it’s not the same as the sun, but every little bit helps.
  • Try to get outside for a bit, especially when the sun has fully made it’s debut for the day. Research shows that 5 – 15 minutes of sun exposure can increase your mood. 
  • Honor yourself and your needs, even if that means saying “no” to company get-togethers.

While this isn’t an all-inclusive list of ways to deal with the potential stressors of the season, it’s a good place to start. Celebrating inclusively means advocating for all, whether that’s for yourself or others, in meaningful ways. We understand that some workplaces are farther along in their DEI efforts than others, and some of these tips could pose individual challenges. Nevertheless, we know that change doesn’t happen if no one is willing to name the differences that exist while also providing reasonable solutions. So Happy Holidays, folks! No matter what you celebrate (or if you don’t), we celebrate you.