There is a survival guide for most things in life — your first year of college, your second decade around the sun, your third marriage — you get the point. Daily, we ask the Google gods for answers on anything from “How many days post-expiration-date can I eat this?” to “What are frequently asked Google questions?” We seek answers from our dear Facebook friends, hoping to learn from their trial and error, and we scavenge Pinterest boards intent on finding reliable tips and tricks (preferably in the format of a list).
Decision-making and action-taking have become a we thing rather than a me thing. But instead of viewing my inability to hard-boil an egg without step-by-step directions from a blogger on the internet as a flaw, I prefer to think of this “please guide me” phenomenon as educated decision-making. I’ve personally become accustomed to it, and I think you have to.
Don’t believe me? Consider this. “Christmas presents for wife” is up 700 percent on Google trends, and “Christmas decor ideas” is up 2,000 percent. The holidays are no different. You’re out there hunting! But hey, there’s no shame in asking for a little direction, and I can humbly admit I’m right there with you.
For some, a surviving-the-holidays guide may look like a thick dictionary cluing you in on what is what and who is who at your in-laws on Christmas Eve. For others, it may just be a sticky note from your mother with instructions on how to make eggnog. For me, I’m all business this year.
As a new employee to WriteBrain (a Business Publications division), I wanted to create a survive-the-holidays guide that landed smack in the middle of a book and a sticky: a list of do’s and don’ts in the workplace guiding me safely to Jan. 2 with my wits and reputation (and, frankly, my waistline) all still in check.
For this particular survival guide, I knew the World Wide Web wasn’t going to spit out the results I needed. I opted for a more personal approach. I homed in on my communications degree, walked down a flight of stairs and started asking people questions. Face to face.
The results were abundant, and I developed a relatively long list (serves me right for asking an open-ended question to professional storytellers). So for the purpose of this blog I’ve narrowed my findings down to the BIG three.
The do’s and don’ts to surviving the holidays at BPC (and any company for that matter)
are as follows.
Compete when appropriate:
Do: Make it a priority to be worst-dressed
You read that right. This year our Funness Committee is instituting an Ugly Sweater Day ― Dec. 20 ― and while it isn’t necessarily a competition, there is no doubt everyone is gunning to be the ugliest. Mirror, mirror on the wall, we can’t wait to see who’s the worst-dressed of them all. Stay tuned, we’ll be posting!
Don’t: Make your PTO a priority over your co-worker’s time
Consider giving the gift of compromise this Christmas. When you work for a company that feels like a family itself, it’s easy to forget most employees have families of their own. While I imagined something along the lines of a lip sync battle or an arm wrestling tournament in our newsroom, the reality is that balancing requests for time off looks more like a simple conversation. Scheduling PTO over the holidays has become an excellent opportunity for camaraderie and to demonstrate just how jolly our team can actually be.
Eat when actually hungry:
Do: Try a bite of everything, but just a bite
At our BPC Thanksgiving feast we had the staples, but in addition we also had a few curveballs. For example: chicken fingers. I’d never had a chicken finger for Thanksgiving, but Lori brought them so I HAD TO try a bite. I then did the same for John’s gluten-free green bean casserole, Rebecca’s homemade cheesy potatoes, Sami’s angel food cake, and the list goes on. Eventually my (big) bites turned into a relatively normal size meal ― one that provided me with a new appreciation for my team members (and chicken fingers) rather than a turkey coma, so I’m considering this a new best practice.
Don’t: Try too much of anything
Isn’t it common knowledge the biggest Christmas miracle of all is the holiday transformation of the company fridge? Open the fridge door out of boredom January through November, and you’re safe. Well, unless you test your luck with the expired cheese or lid-less salad dressing. Open the fridge door out of boredom in December, and you’ll be spending your afternoon with your pants secretly unbuttoned and your tummy full of charcuterie, homemade pies, leftover turkey and more. Here’s the December trick: See the fridge, approach the fridge, run to your computer, put in PTO, take the month off and come back in January.
Express gratitude when necessary:
Do: Graciously look forward to the holiday party
A holiday party isn’t a unique festivity. Most every place of work does something. Nonetheless, the commonality of it all never decreases the significance of bringing people together or dims the gratitude that arises when you do.
As if taking the team to 801 Chophouse for lunch isn’t enough, I’ve been informed the leadership at Business Publications acknowledges the year’s hard work with a Christmas present in the form of a profit-sharing check. Similar to a holiday party, it’s a gesture that isn’t unique ― something any business could do. And yet again, as far as significance goes, I don’t ever see exchanging a thank you (for your work) with a thank you (for noticing) getting old. Another best practice to consider.
Don’t: Graciously accept anything less than Connie Wimer’s white elephant gift
Remember that battle over PTO I imagined in my head? I’ve now redirected the scene to our white elephant gift exchange. Rumor has it the white elephant exchange has about as many unsaid rules as it has written. Perhaps the most important of them all is to keep your eye on the prize ― which in our company’s case is the gift from Chairman Connie Wimer. Lose focus and you’re sure to end up with “How to talk romantic” cassettes or worse.
I hope my BPC holiday survival guide has you thinking of the ways in which you’ll tackle December in the office, whether it be contributing the “gotta have it” white elephant gift (likely a Magic 8 Ball) or surprising your team with a new way to say thank you at the holiday party. Who knows? Keep these three tips in mind and you may even thrive rather than just survive.
Happy Holidays from WriteBrain! Check back after the new year begins for more tips and tricks. (We know you’re out there searching.)