Keep Christmas in December: When to allow your staff to get festive

Thursday 15th November 2018

The shops have their own schedules for dealing with the later part of the year. Having been full of ‘back to school’ stuff at the end of August, autumn brought an increasing focus on Halloween. Now that has been and gone, the cobwebs and pumpkins have been swiftly replaced by the Christmas bunting.

When considering the approach of the festive season, there are invariably two polarised views. In perhaps the only accurate internet meme ever, there are those like the eponymous character in the film Elf, who are overwhelmed by excitement. Others are somewhat akin to King Theoden in the Lord of the Rings film The Two Towers, whose gloomy response is “so it begins”.

The shops may be capitalising on those who are getting in the mood already – or just keen to get their shopping done before the crowds start to swarm – but does the office have to be like that in November? Or should you leave it until December?

Timings and meanings are not the same issue
It should be noted the timing issue does not amount to the same thing as dealing with religious sensibilities. Some staff may regard Christmas as an important spiritual time of the year, while others will see it just as an occasion for a party and a family get-together. While it is reasonable to be sensitive and accommodating to different beliefs, it is a separate question from that of just when the celebrations should start. People with different attitudes to the significance and meaning of the event could still agree that November is too soon to put the tree up.

Similarly, while there will also be people of other faiths for whom Christmas is not important – including Hindus celebrating Diwali this month and Jews marking Chanukah in early December – for whom it is not so relevant either. Despite the odd over-zealous council and the occasional hysterical tabloid headline, very few people indeed actually object to Christmas being celebrated at all.

Therefore, it all really comes down to an issue of timing.

Have some fireworks first
A sensible step may be to insist that people should at least wait until that other major autumn event – Bonfire Night – has taken place. After all, it is usually just after this that most towns and cities turn their attention fully onto the festive season with steps like switching on their Christmas lights and commencing their European Christmas markets. However, some places seem keen to break even this rule: Manchester, for example, turned on its lights on November 3rd.

Save it for December
In view of the fact that some people could end up heartily fed up of Christmas before it even arrives, it makes sense to set a date at which things can get “Christmassy”.

For example, it might be wise to decide that November remains a Christmas-free month. Instead, the bunting, carols, fairy lights and jumpers, not to mention the Christmas party, can all be saved for December.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean those who really are excited by Christmas should just shut up about it. After all, most people are doing some planning for the event and there could be a fair bit of comparing notes on things in the shops their kids might like, for example, or preparations of the party.

A party planning solution
Talking of which, if some people really feel like Elf, perhaps there lies the perfect solution: put them in charge of planning the Christmas party. They can pour all their excitement and enthusiasm into making the event a spectacular to be enjoyed and not some damp squib put on as an afterthought.

That way, when the festive season does arrive, everyone can be in the mood.



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