There are plenty of “Top fill-in-the-blank” lists floating around the internets these days. Top gifts, top party dresses, top holiday meals, top santa-inspired cocktails, and so on. In the midst of the Christmas carols and peppermint flavored holiday specials, here’s a list of the top 7 things to remember, at home and at work, according to yours truly.
7. Top Gifts – A lot of energy is put into figuring out what the hot gift items are this year. Newest tech, coolest toy, trendiest kitchen gadget. Here’s a thought: If you don’t really know the person well enough to be able to think of something that they would actually want, versus something on a top 15 gift ideas list, maybe you shouldn’t actually be giving them a present. Okay, that’s a bit harsh. I suppose you can’t be expected to know the wants and desires of everyone your generous soul wishes to bestow Christmas cheer upon.
That said, try to keep it personal and genuine. If you can’t figure out how to do this, take a look at the effort you’re putting into the relationships that matter; maybe spend some extra time getting to know those around you. Hey, there’s a gift idea for you… instead of an item, purchase a shared experience (dinner and a live show, or a day at a theme park, perhaps). For everyone else that you just want to do something nice for, food, wine, and gift cards are usually winners. Just make you know about any dietary restrictions…
6. Workplace Gifts – This can be a touchy area. In my opinion, big workplace gifts should be avoided, mostly for the sake of avoiding any drama, or whispers of brown-nosing and favoritism. However, a nice, small gift that you are able to give to the entire department, or your immediate team, is a holiday touch worthy of the friendly Christmas elves. Ornaments, Christmas candy, etc. The idea is to be thoughtful without being over-the-top. Also, if you come in to the office puffy-eyed and falling asleep because you stayed up all night hot-gluing red bows onto the latest Pinterest DIY gift idea, you’ll hardly be doing yourself, or anybody in the office, any favors.
5. Elf on the Shelf – Seriously, what is this nonsense… because it’s adorable! Can we please come up with a workplace version of this? Could be a fun way to get a team involved in something fun/potentially hilarious. (Also potentially inappropriate, as the internets have already proven.) The thing to remember here is moving it every day and taking pictures so I can share in the amusement created by your creativity. Also, the other main reason this is on my list is to make sure you are in fact aware of this pop culture phenomena. I hate people to feel like they have been living under a rock, and that seems to happen sometimes with stuff like this, somehow. So here ya go.
4. Family Parties – The main goal here is to enjoy eachother’s company and avoid any major conflict. Christmas Eve is not the time to hash out your religious differences or to air out your thoughts on cousin Sally’s latest relationship drama. Holidays have a way of putting extra pressure on everything, even relationships between people who love eachother very much. Do everyone, especially yourself, a favor and remember what Momma used to say: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Save the sarcasm for February.
3. Work Parties – To Do: Build relationships, have fun, and celebrate the holidays and another successful year, all while being the super-duper professional that you were hired to be. To NOT Do: Drink too much, embarrass yourself, or be inappropriate or otherwise unprofessional. What happens at the party stays at the party is NOT a real thing. You’ve been warned.
2. Christmas Cards/Holiday Greetings – From a business perspective, the idea here is to send some holiday cheer without coming across as crassly using a holiday as an excuse to send your clients some extra advertising. I have found that one of the best ways to do this is to send out personalized greetings (as opposed to a holiday email campaign or something similar). Take some time to send out personalized greeting cards your special list of clients – it’s a touch that doesn’t go unnoticed. You know what DOES go unnoticed? A generic Merry Christmas email with your logo on it. Be personal, be creative, be thoughtful.
For family or personal greetings, I’m a HUGE fan of an updated family picture card. [Please just include all the family members, not just a picture of your adorable new baby. I was your friend first, but congrats on the kid, of course! What an adorable Santa outfit!] The “here’s what we’ve all been up to” letters, on the other hand, are a bit much, mostly because they are highly edited brag pieces that are similar to putting an amateur PR spin on your family. Yes, I sound jaded, but seriously people. Save the meaningless fluff. Your real, true friends, know the real, true you already! This is the age of “overshare”, and here is an opportunity to control how much you contribute to the flood of un-genuine-ness.
1. What it’s Really About – The spirit of the holidays is joy. Actually, I think that expands to Peace, Love, and Joy. When it comes down to it, if the things that you are doing and/or involved in are not creating a spirit of peace, love, or joy, you’re doing it wrong. Your version of peace, love, and joy may be different than your neighbor’s or coworkers’. So what! Do what works for you and your loved ones, and enjoy the season for what it’s supposed to be.
Or, in other words, be genuine to yourself and those in your world. It’s worth it.