5 Alternatives to Traditional Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace

Oct 31, 2018 | Innovation

Alternative Holiday Celebration at WorkHoliday celebrations at the office becomes a topic of conversation in the fall more than other times of the year – mainly because there are several major holidays in October, November, and December. Yet a lot of these holidays have religious connections, so it can make hosting holiday-related work events a little trickier when you are trying to be inclusive and support diversity simultaneously.

No one wants to be excluded because of their personal or religious beliefs. Manning the reception desk while everyone else celebrates at a Christmas luncheon or trades Secret Santa gifts can make even the most cheerful employee feel slighted and resentful. To avoid this minefield, get creative and develop your own corporate event list that fits in with the culture of your organization and removes the potential for offending someone’s religious or cultural beliefs.

Here are a few ideas to consider.

Encourage Volunteering

Whether you choose to make this an annual event or an ongoing occasion throughout the year, volunteering is something every employee can get behind. Helping others makes most people feel good inside, regardless of religion or personal beliefs.

Some companies have a long tradition of supporting a specific charity. However, allowing employees to support a charity of their own choosing may help the idea gain more traction. When I worked corporately, I wasn’t always thrilled about some of the organizations my company chose to support; giving me a say in where I volunteered would have encouraged me to be more involved in the initiative.

Celebrate Company Milestones

Achieving a milestone as a team is always a cause for celebration. Whether it’s winning a new client, finishing a huge project, or meeting your sales goals for the year, recognizing the success (and the people who made it possible) is a great way to reward employees for a job well done and encourage them to work even harder going forward.

These events don’t need to be planned months in advance; just celebrate when there’s something to celebrate. Spontaneity is often a powerful motivator!

Recognize Employment Anniversaries

Most of us don’t want to be reminded that we’re another year older, and some of us prefer not to share our birthday publicly. So while a birthday card signed by the entire office and a cake in the breakroom is a nice gesture, recognizing employment anniversaries is a meaningful way to show team members that their service is valued.

An anniversary celebration doesn’t need to be extravagant. It can be as simple as a company-wide email detailing which employees are celebrating an anniversary that month and how long they’ve worked there, followed by a lunchtime social and a small gift of thanks, such as a gift card to a local restaurant.

Annual Appreciation Events

Replace your traditional office Christmas party with a different kind of stand-alone event. This could take the form of a company picnic, an annual outing or retreat, an employee appreciation week, complete with a daily themed activities, games, contests, and department competitions, or even a fancy formal gala for employees and their spouses.

Whatever you choose to do, put the time and energy into it to make sure a good time is had by all. A hastily-planned event is just one more “thing” an employee has to attend; an event that is well thought out and executed is one employees will look forward to all year long!

Employee Awards

Roll out the red carpet for your best employees! Consider a night spent celebrating employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty with customer service or GEM (Going the Extra Mile) awards.

Recognizing the people who work behind the scenes to keep your company running shows that you appreciate their efforts, and everyone will want to attend, hoping they win one of the coveted awards!

Not everyone celebrates the holidays, and forcing employees to choose between missing out or compromising their beliefs leads to an uncomfortable situation. When you choose alternative events to celebrate, everyone wins and employees have something to look forward to outside the traditional holidays.

© 2018 Julie Perrine International, LLC


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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.


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