Can too much holiday spirit in the office backfire? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Can too much holiday spirit in the office backfire?

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Question: “I might be a Scrooge, but I always roll my eyes when it comes time to decorate the office and plan little events for the staff during the holidays. Between the time it takes away from our usual duties and the fact that we’re bombarded outside of work with holiday imagery and revelry (and sweets!), wouldn’t it be kind of a relief to come into the office and not be overwhelmed by yet another layer of yuletide spirit?” – Kendra V., Receptionist

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara December 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I enjoy Christmas, even though I don’t belong to any religion whatsoever.
Our office does beautiful decorations (I’m not involved) and we have a gift exchange/holiday potluck breakfast and an offsite holiday lunch. I would say it’s strictly pagan, no religious sentiment at all.

Maybe you can minimize your presence both at the events and with the decoration next year.. Maybe some of your office mates share your sentiments.

After this Christmas, maybe you could suggest a scaled-down version of events for 2013. If there is considerable expense involved, maybe the money could go to the local food bank.

However, i the rest of the office enjoys what you consider to be excessive holiday spirit, you’ll just have to “grin and bear it”.


Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Please be careful how you use the word, “Pagan.” Paganism is a collection of religions.

Not celebrating anything is not Pagan. Celebrating on the Solstice IS Pagan.

Thanks for your consideration.


Kris December 14, 2012 at 7:59 am

I feel you Kendra. The holidays are not the same for me anymore since I lost my only sibling whom I used to spend the holidays with. While I do not have the spirit any more I do not take it away from others. When someone comes and ask me if I’m going to decorate, I gladly give them the decorations and tell them feel free to use it as it would be nice it everyone who is interested could have a chance. I will bring in a dish or treat for the gatherings around the office but I do sit around too long with them. Maybe in time I will feel differently.


Lisa December 10, 2012 at 8:52 am

A small part of my job is being the receptionist for an office of 25 people so it really only consumes about 1/10th of my day. However, I have always been made to feel that the holiday tree and lobby decorations fell on me because that was “my office.” Decorating the lobby is a lot of extra work. The other 9/10ths of my job is very demanding so the last thing I want to do is take the time to decorate. FYI – I used to work for a large corporation who hired a company to decorate every year. It was nice to be able enjoy the decor and not think “I have to take this stuff down, box it up and cart it over to storage soon.”


Anonymous_J December 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I don’t feel it should be a delegated duty. I am someone who does not celebrate Christmas. (I celebrate the Winter Solstice, which is similar but not the same.) I would feel very put out if it were MY JOB to “create Christmas cheer.” I feel the best way to handle the planning is to find out who WANTS to do the planning, rather than piling it on the admin.

I also have a real issue with the fact that one set of beliefs (sometimes two) is emphasized over others. I like the idea of a general holiday gathering with no emphasis on any one set of beliefs, but that’s not what happens.

I don’t think Kendra needs a new career: I think she needs new coworkers!


Anonymous December 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Not everybody believes that, and that’s part of my beef with the whole thing.


Anonymous December 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm

(That was supposed to be a reply to the person who referenced “The Lord’s Birthday” below. Don’t know why it didn’t nest properly.)


Long Time Admin December 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Some of the commenters are extremely harsh and judgemental. Do you really think that is in keeping with the season?

Kendra, I understand what you’re saying. Lately, it seems the “Christmas Spirit” is overwhelming, over the top, and over done! I’ve scaled back my own Christmas decor from my usual extravaganza because I want a quieter Holy Day this year. Thankfully, our office is decorated but bears no resemblence to a mall, and holiday celebrations are generally done within the departments, and are not company-wide.


Samson December 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I disagree about the need for a “career change”. With 30 years in this career (I am 48), my perception and attitude changes every now and then; sometimes I attend the parties, sometimes not; sometimes I decorate a little, sometimes a lot and sometimes not at all. People ask and I say I’m just not into it this year. Give yourself permission to accept how you honestly feel at the moment and let others know in basic, simple terms. Sometimes, simply being around others who are rejoicing and being merry can lift us up, without us having to lift a finger or spending a dime!! And all we need to bring or wear to join in is a Smile.

other rejoice and be merry and be honest withor decline without the drama of what others might/will think.

just not in the mood to celebrate with co-workersWhy have co-workers become so jaded to a difference in ideas?


Ruth December 7, 2012 at 6:09 am

I completely understand how Kendra feels. Not everyone feels the same about holidays, however, she needs to understand that some people truly enjoy this holiday season and want to share that joy. I believe that in every office, you should be able to participate in the group gatherings but not feel as though it is mandatory that you socialize with your co-workers outside of work. We need a separate life from work.


Joan December 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Kendra seems to be asking for relief and I can relate to the feeling of being pressured to “be happy, it’s a holiday”. Sometimes life-events make certain holidays too poignant and work can be a place one looks to for relief from the reminders. I like the suggestions L and Linda made for coping with courtesy. Smile, say thank you and then no thanks to whatever is being offered. Variations on the theme of “I have other plans,” given with a smile, usually gets me through the season until January 1st.


Kay December 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm

If your attendance is not mandatory, just don’t go and keep on working, but don’t expect the rest of the office to do the same. I agree with Lilly and the others who wrote that celebrating the holidays is a positive thing that is good for company morale. Our company does a summer party, a Halloween costume contest, and a big Christmas party, and no one has to participate if they don’t want to. I would be very disappointed if my company didn’t celebrate the holidays because, like Joyce, it makes most people happy as well as offers an opportunity for departments to mingle and get to know other employees better. Merry Christmas, Kendra!


cs December 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I agree with Karen. Merry Christmas!


Kelly December 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Scrooge? No. Grinch? Maybe. Chirstmas comes once a year. Enjoy it!


LINDA December 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I understand where the person is coming from. everyon has so much between Thanksgiving family get togethers and Christmas. Having to take time from job duties just adds to the stress. I am in favor of a relaxing get to gether – but a big production – nope. Here in my office they are planning a morning of meetings, a pot luck, then an afternoon of make and take – I have asked not to be incluced in the pot luck and afternoon activities of games, make-and take. – 1) I am on a restiricted diet – so I know most of the foods will be unallowed for me, 2) I am one of the older workers and to be truthful – this is more something for younger people – I am an adult. I would enjoy having light snacks and sitting around talking/visiting/and enjoying soft christmas music for maybe the last hour of our work day. Not everyone enjoys these types of activities. So if someone does not want to join in – please excuse them – it is not that they don’t have the spirit – maybe they just need some “down” time to de-stress and these activities are stressful for them. We all celebrate in different ways – just be sure to wishs them a happy holiday season and maybe offer to bring them a snack they can enjoy without all the other people and noise.


Lilly December 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I also agree that it’s nice to have something going on in the office. There are people out there that actually don’t have a lot in their personal lives and doing stuff at works brings joy to them. Plus I believe it raises morale and brings about more team comraderie having a decorative place to come in to during the week! (although I can do without all the extra food goodies this time of year!!!)


karen December 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Kendra needs a career change. Merry Christmas.


L December 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm

The holidays can certainly be overwhelming and I understand that not everyone wants to celebrate to the max. Try these tips: delegate the party planning to other admins; make a brief appearance at gatherings, and then return to work (if it’s held during office hours) or schedule a medical appointment on the same day as the party as an escape; bring a basket of fruit with some energy bars for everyone to enjoy instead of sweets. Lastly, just know that it will all be over soon. Very soon.


Gloria December 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm

As long as the Company allows it, I see nothing wrong with it. After all it is the Holiday Season where the world believes it is the Lord’s birthday. I look forward to decorating the area in my department each year.


Joyce December 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Halloween and Christmas are BIG time decorating in this office. It’s usually done lunch or afterhours, or the department picks a one-time day/time slot and makes it a mini-event. The majority of staff and visitors like it and get’s a kick out of it. It makes most people happy, laugh, and/or smile. That’s what I focus on and that’s where my attitude goes.


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