Make Holiday Parties Inclusive
Author: Michael Scaletti
The holidays are a great time to get your office together for some joy and fun, but it is worth remembering that no one likes to feel left out. If you want to create an atmosphere of community and good will in your workplace, you need to make sure that you aren't excluding anyone.
There are some simple ground rules to follow to ensure that all of your team members feel like they are acknowledged and included, and no one feels isolated at the next holiday party.
Celebrate Holidays of All Denominations
As much as Christmas has become an almost non-denominational, non-religious holiday in America, a lot of people don't view it that way. Make an effort to know the religious, spiritual, and cultural holidays of your staff members, and then acknowledge and celebrate them! Remember too that not all significant cultural holidays happen in December, so be willing to spread the celebrations out through the year.
Fall and Winter Holidays
Bodhi Day. This Buddhist holiday, which commemorates the day that Siddhartha Guatama, the historical Buddha, experienced enlightenment, is traditionally celebrated on Dec. 8.
Christmas. This celebration of the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity, takes place on Dec. 25. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, it takes place on Jan. 7.
Diwali. This five-day Hindu Festival of Lights begins Oct. 24 in 2022 and Nov. 12 in 2023.
Eid al-Fitr. This celebration that marks the end of Ramadan in the Muslim faith has shifting dates and can sometimes fall in December. However, in 2019, it will start at sundown on April 21st.
Hanukkah. In 2022, this eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights will start at sundown on Dec. 18 and end at sundown Dec. 26.
Kwanzaa. This weeklong secular holiday honoring African-American heritage is celebrated Dec. 26-Jan. 1 each year.
Lunar New Year. This traditional Chinese holiday marking the end of winter falls on Jan. 22, 2023.
Yule. This Wiccan or pagan celebration of the winter solstice takes place every year between Dec. 20 and Dec. 23.
Source: Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.
Don't Make the Celebrations Mandatory
This means not requiring your employees to show up to either virtual or in person holiday events. Please remember that not only are the holidays sometimes inherently exclusionary for people of certain backgrounds and beliefs, but also a lot of people have trauma wrapped up in the holidays. Also, sometimes people just don't have the time due to other obligations in their life. Forcing those people to attend a mandatory event that is uncomfortable for them is bad for morale and bad for your team cohesion.
Make Your Activities Non-Denominational
This goes hand in hand with making sure that you celebrate holidays of all denominations. Make sure that the activities you choose will appeal to everyone. Stay away from activities that have a single religious or cultural connotation, as even if that group is in the majority on your team, it can leave people feeling uncomfortable. Instead, go for things like a nice dinner or a fun activity like mini-golf that won't simply appeal to one subset of your team.
Consider Virtual Celebrations
Remote work is now a much larger part of the work force than it was pre-covid. If you have team members who either work far from the office or are traveling home for the holidays, virtual celebrations can be a great way to create an inclusive environment that anyone can participate in.
Choose a Neutral Date
Your staff is likely to be celebrating their holidays with their friends and family, and it's important to allow them to do so. To ensure that they can do that but also participate in whatever event, party, or celebration you have planned, make sure that you choose a date for your event that doesn't fall on the actual day of a holiday (or two close to it).
These basic ground rules will put you on the right track to have a joyful, inclusive holiday that will ensure your whole team has fun. Have a happy holiday, and a happy new year!