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How to Not Be a Grinch at Work (When You’re Tired of Christmas Already)


As we slide into December, we resign ourselves to seeing signs of Christmas when we’re in the mall, at the car dealership, or even just trying to watch a little TV. But when you’re at work, it’s sometimes hard to deal with all the “stuff” that comes with Christmas when you don’t celebrate it yourself. Office courtesy goes both ways, and it should be possible to have an inclusive environment where some co-workers celebrate winter holidays and those who don’t are still respected.


(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Issue: Christmas Decor at Work

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Resolution: Decorating your cube or office shouldn’t be required at work, or at least not with the intention of making everyone celebrate a religious holiday like Christmas. While Pinterest can give you some ideas of the extremes others have gone to in order to deck their three walls (fa la la la la), there are also subtle ways to “participate” without being a stick-in-the-mud in the eyes of management or feeling coerced into celebrating a holiday you don’t observe.

  • Don’t want to put up lights or red or green decor? Try a bowl of candy or treats instead. If you celebrate another winter holiday like Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, try sharing some treats from your own culture. If you don’t partake in any religion, it’s still OK to share a treat with co-workers. We’re all fattening up for winter, after all.
  • If your work is having a decorating contest, see if you can volunteer to be a judge and praise your co-workers’ ingenuity with some craft paper and a gluestick.

Issue: Christmas Music at Work

Resolution: Music is music, and can be a distraction, whether it’s Mariah Carey or Michael Buble singing about sleigh bells. You should be able to politely ask a co-worker to put in some headphones if they’re rocking out to carols at their desk.

  • If your co-worker won’t pipe down, it’s time to talk to HR about the distraction.
  • If you work in an office that’s decided to pipe in music for all to hear (and you’re not at a box store that started the Christmas muzak back in the warmer months) you may have larger HR conversations that need to happen about distractions at work, but those who work in retail have little choice.

Issue: The Office “Holiday” Party Is Really a Christmas Party

Resolution: Try to get in on the planning committee before the Santa heads get stapled to the conference room walls. Workplaces should be inclusive and responsive to concerns that celebrations, even “time-honored” ones like an end-of-year party, are really Christian celebrations that tend to alienate those of other (or no) religions.

  • Decorations and celebrations can be non-denominational but still fun. Take some cues from kids’ parties. Try having a snowflake-cutting station for some crafty time. Do some team building with “egg races” on spoons from one end to another. Sponsor a non-denominational art contest that celebrates co-workers’ artistic talents, not their ability to make a red and green paper chain and drape it all over the walls.
  • If you’re really looking to send a message that the party isn’t about Christmas, then move it out of December. The good news is that restaurants and party spaces often have more availability after the start of the year. If you’re really about having a party to celebrate all the good things that the company has accomplished over the last year, then do it at the start of another.

Tell Us What You Think

Does your workplace overdo the holiday celebrations? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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