How Can I Make Sure Everyone Feels Included in the Office During the Holidays?


There’s a lot going on during that time between US’s Thanksgiving and New Year when nearly every culture has secular and/or holidays they’re celebrating. While many traditions share things in common, it’s been all too long that everyone else’s winter holidays get overlooked. Almost all our imagery and vocabulary is just about Christmas. But between Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Omisoka and Chinese New Year – just to name a few – we’re forgetting that a majority of the world has other holidays around Christmas time. Which means we’re definitely forgetting some of our employees when we choose to do things like personalized employee Christmas gifts and office Christmas parties.

Does it sound daunting to try and accommodate for nearly 6 months of major holidays between all the people in your office? It’s actually not that bad – inclusivity is about becoming more accessible by becoming more vague. The less specific your office parties, decorations and gifts are, the more inclusive they become. So, you don’t have to be that creative to come up with inclusive office holiday solutions; you just have to be flexible.

10 Ways to Make Holidays Fun for Everyone at the Office

Let’s dive into the festive spirit and discover how you can create a workplace filled with happiness, laughter, and holiday cheer!

Christmas Isn’t the Only Holiday Around

December is a month filled with a multitude of celebrations and events, extending beyond the realm of Christmas. Christmas holds significant cultural and religious importance for many but not all. It’s important to acknowledge and respect the backgrounds and traditions of individuals in your office. Some may respect corporate gifting, others may not.

By broadening your understanding of the festivities happening, you create an inclusive environment. One that appreciates and embraces the rich traditions of each employee. Ask Your Employees What They Want

There’s nothing wrong with asking questions on what’s appropriate and what all your employees want the holidays to be. In fact, it’s thoughtful and respectful. Not to mention it takes all the guesswork out.

Remember, open dialogue and active listening are key when discussing holiday preferences. Create a safe and non-judgmental space for employees to share their thoughts. Be prepared to make accommodations and adjustments based on the feedback received. By involving everyone in shaping the holiday celebrations, you can create a positive work environment.

Keep Your Office Schedule Up to Date

Update the office-wide calendar with all the relevant holidays your employees want to have acknowledged and be flexible about people taking time off at different times than others.

You may want to keep any awards ceremonies far away from the holidays as well. You don’t want to overlap with any potential holiday time, nor do you want to want it to be considered a Christmas or holiday party itself. It’s okay to have an office holiday event but not every team will like it when you combine multiple events into one.

Don’t Force Festivities on Any Employee

Make any and all holiday events voluntary. There are a number of reasons people may not want to go to the celebrations of holidays foreign to or in contrast with theirs.

The holiday season can be a busy time with personal commitments, family gatherings, and festivities outside of work. Gift giving alone in the modern age makes things even more stressful for some. By making events voluntary, employees have the flexibility to manage their work-life balance. It ensures that they can divide their time and energy according to their personal needs. You’ll help reduce stress and allowing them to fully enjoy the holiday season.

Not Every Culture Wants or Allows for Gifts

Make any gift-giving games or events optional, and also put a cap on what people can spend so it is accessible to everyone but not pressured. Giving corporate gifts during the holiday season can be a wonderful way to show appreciation for your employees’ work. This can be small pieces of appreciation that you can disconnect from the season. An engraved pen or perhaps a new nameplate would be appreciated. Be mindful of cultural or religious considerations. You need to ensure that the gifts do not inadvertently exclude or offend anyone.

Neutral or Over the Top Colors Help Include Everyone

Either stick with the snow and ice theme, or just get festive and go with all colors of the rainbow! Avoid red and green because it’s specific to Christmas. Decorate with colorful ornaments, ribbons, and banners, make the office to radiate a festive and joyous ambiance. By embracing a colorful theme, you create an environment that is welcoming to all employees. One that is respectful of their personal beliefs or cultural traditions.

Consider A Company Dinner Instead

What about, instead of a holiday-themed party, you just all go out to a nice dinner together? Or all go perform some charitable service in your shared hometown. You don’t need gifts and luxurious decorations to create a great team building environment. Simply going out and spending time together in a neutral environment can bring people together.

Invite your Team to Have a Potluck

Would your employees enjoy making and trying dishes from every culture present within the team? On each holiday, people could bring in food relevant to that place or day for a potluck office lunch. Make sure to respect cultural differences in food consumption, like how Hindu people don’t eat beef and Muslims don’t eat pork.

It Might Be Easier to Schedule for the New Year

Consider discussing with everyone waiting to have an office celebration until after New Year, when most of the hustle and bustle of the holidays has died down. By waiting until after the New Year to have an office celebration, you create a more relaxed and accommodating environment. This will lead to greater attendance, engagement, and a renewed sense of enthusiasm. By doing this, you recognize the unique challenges and demands of the holiday season. Renewing your team’s enthusiasm for the year will help create a successful and enjoyable celebration for the entire team. It also gives you an excuse to bring in the New Year with some new office ware. There’s never a bad time for this.

Feedback Can Make Next Year Perfect

Every year, after the holidays are over, take an office-wide survey on how everyone felt about your holiday policies. This will help you make the holidays better and better each year. It can’t hurt to even get feedback on the corporate gifts if you gave any. Perhaps they would prefer ballpoint pens or the letter openers might need replacing next.

With a little bit of effort on your part as a manager, and a lot of cooperative, community experiences, you’ll find these strategies will do good things for your workplace culture year-round.