9 Tips to Survive Workplace Christmas Festivities

Published on December 9, 2015 by Lauren

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  • Are holidays at your workplace a “thing?” I mean are holidays a huge deal where you work? Unfortunately for many people, holidays at their workplaces can be incredibly stressful.

    Why are holidays so stressful when you’re working?

    Well, this is really a HUGE question because for some of us, this time of year might have us re-checking out budgets, cringing, and nervous about our roles this holiday season.

    The big issue for most is something I would call Work Place Culture. Oftentimes this has been established before you even began working there. These are the traditions and customs your workplace follows. Some places hardly acknowledge the holidays. However, some places have parties, gift exchanges, potluck dinners, or more.

    This can be a substantial financial burden because you don’t want to be the only one bringing communal gifts or taking part in the food. Additionally, you may have many employees that you’ll need to provide gifts for. Also, let’s face it, people tend to get competitive. No one wants to be labeled as the ‘Scrooge’ or person who brought the ‘boring’ gifts.

    How can you survive the holidays at your workplace?

    This actually might not be as difficult as you fear.  It is possible that other employees are feeling pressured to participate in holiday activities as well.

    So what does that mean exactly? It might mean that finances aren’t great for everyone and you might be able to propose some changes that would lessen the financial toll. For example, if you feel comfortable, consider suggesting a Secret Santa gift exchange instead of getting gifts for all.  As far as holiday parties, you could propose a cookie exchange party or some other type of event rather than a full meal. Or if your workplace usually goes out to eat at a local restaurant, you could suggest a pot luck.

    However, if you truly find yourself not feeling comfortable proposing a change to the old standby, holiday traditions, don’t feel bad. It can be hard, particularly if you are a newer employee, to step out of your comfort zone and speak up. There isn’t anything wrong with staying silent, you just need to be innovative. Taking part in holiday festivities does not need to break the bank!

    Solutions For Communal Gift Giving

    You or someone you know might have experienced the sinking feeling when a co-worker brings in donuts and coffee for the entire staff. Or you may have done a mental calculation on how much those pizza and wings cost for the staff. It can be disheartening when you feel like everyone is spending a lot to celebrate the season. How on earth can you follow your budget and still share the love?

    Does everyone participate? Pay attention to your work place culture. Does everyone give a gift of some kind? Or is it just a few people? Sometimes it isn’t that all staff members participate, just those who are able to. If that’s the case then you may not feel the need to take part.

    Affordable Gift Ideas:

    1. Useful Gifts – Keep in mind that it’s not the cost of gifts but the thought that counts.  Depending on your workplace there may be plenty of inexpensive but useful gifts that might come in handy. (Ex. pencil sharpeners, mini flashlights, wrist rests, or more).
    2. Thoughtful Gifts – Make your own fruit baskets for the staff room, contribute to the coffee fund, or re-purpose your old coffee maker by donating it to your work place.
    3. Handmade Gifts – Can you cross-stitch? Consider making small simple ornaments, bookmarks, or other cross stitch projects. If you can knit or crochet, then make small wash clothes or pot holders.
    4. “Token” Gifts – I don’t mean this in a derogatory way. What I’m referring to are very small gifts meant to show people you are thinking of them and appreciate them. For example, a card with one scratch-off lottery ticket for each coworker could be greatly appreciated. Go to the dollar store and pick up some inexpensive ornaments and give each co-worker one.

    You really need to take into consideration your budget, the size of your workplace, and the traditions. Obviously you need to look out for your best interests. Your budget and family finances are the priority. So if push comes to shove, a nice Christmas card with a personalized note may be all you can do. That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up.

    Tips for Holiday Parties

    1. If your workplace likes to celebrate the holidays by going out to eat, there are some tips you could try in order to still be able to go without blowing your budget. Suggest restaurants that offer coupons or ones that you have a gift card for. This can help you save some money.

    2. If you want to take this further, some grocery stores will give you money towards Gas Rewards for purchases so you could go and get some gift cards for that particular restaurant before going. You may still be spending the money, but at least you will earn some money towards gas.

    3. Consider ordering an appetizer rather than an entree. Some appetizers are large enough to be meals! You could also forgo dessert and drinks in order to save some extra money. And as always, bring home any leftovers. I don’t know about you guys, but leftovers (especially nice ones from restaurants) never seem to go to waste at my house!

    Tips for Potlucks

    4. Potlucks are often a much nicer financial choice than going out to eat, depending on what you choose to prepare. Try to focus on recipes that can be made for the least amount of money per serving. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to google or check out my meal plans for some ideas.

    5. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. You could bring rolls, chips, appetizers, or more. Keep in mind that homemade items are typically more cost effective. Meaning that you should make your own veggie platters or fruit trays. Consider making your own veggie chips or rolls.

    The holidays don’t need to be any more stressful than they already are. Don’t let your work holiday traditions spook you.

    Have any of you have experiences with dealing with holiday expectations at your place of employment? How do you handle it?




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