December 2005 - Lightening the Load
- Suggestions and Tips:
- Help Someone Else
- Enjoy Your Co-Workers
- Celebrate Achievements
- Make Personal Connections
- Share Diversity
- Holiday Blessing
- Resources (links, books, articles, software/multi-media,
Our December newsletter is about making the workplace a
lighter place to be, a place where people can have fun, enjoy their job and so
something different. Many companies (*) have
winter holiday events or encourage workers to do something a bit unusual at this
time of year.
Following the month of November when activities
surrounding thanksgiving and abundance are major themes (at least in the United
States), December is an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the many
holidays as well as create sparkle and light to offset the shorter darker winter
days. [For our readers in the Southern Hemisphere, you might want to
re-read this article in June.]
This newsletter offers some suggestions for ways to
lighten your workload and your workplace, this month or any month of the
People who get involved in holiday endeavors report
they feel so much better about themselves through doing this that their overall
attitude is improved. They realize how fortunate they are and feel
blessed to be able to share their abundance with others. There are
many, many ways to help others. Here are only a few examples:
- Some companies and many religious organizations sponsor gift exchanges for
those less fortunate. That could mean providing gifts for people at
local hospitals, children's homes or anyone identified as needing extra
- One example we have seen is a "Critter Tree" where a pine large
tree is decorated with stuffed animals, huggable toys and other warm, soft
items that are donated to children in hospitals.
- Another of our favorite projects gives gifts to local families who have
been identified as needing help. Everything on their wish list is
provided along with an entire holiday meal, delivered by Santa's
"Elves" a few days before Christmas.
- It could mean supplying holiday meals of turkey and all the fixings,
helping to serve meals to the homeless or helping survivors of natural
- It could mean visits to retirement homes to sing carols or provide gifts
of hope and personal connection.
- It could mean collecting money to be donated to others through organized
- It could mean collecting gifts or personal items of any kind to be shared
with those who are suffering hardship at this time of year.
The month of December is often the time that groups get together for holiday
lunches, dinners or parties.
- The Ritz-Carlton
in Laguna Niguel, CA offers a special "High Tea" in December that
is extra special with all the seasonal decorations inside and an enchanting
view from the high cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Other luxury
hotels offer similar events.
- A holiday gift exchange is practiced by many work groups. It could
be that everyone exchanges holiday ornaments or draws names out of a bowl to
- Other groups simply get together for a meal just to enjoy each other,
possibly recognizing or acknowledging the accomplishments of the year.
- Some companies sponsor a special lunch or dinner event.
- A group might sponsor a department-wide potluck lunch where people can
share their cooking talents with co-workers. Those not gifted in the
culinary arts, can supply plates, drinks, silverware or other
- On a smaller scale, a few people who are friends might get together just
for the fun of it, with or without any gift exchange.
The end of the calendar year is often a time to recognize the year's
accomplishments and get ready for the new year ahead.
- Many people choose to retire at the end of the year, so this is a natural
time to look back on the many achievements of the person
- Other companies celebrate their financial results of the year with bonuses
and acknowledgement of the many contributions of the employees who have
worked hard to achieve the business results.
- Non-profit groups may celebrate their fund-raising efforts with special
- We were introduced recently to a nifty Microsoft Word template/software
product, Our Shared Times, that
creates a newsletter-type timeline page for each year, showing significant
events. It comes pre-loaded with several news events for each of the
past 100 years (with pictures) plus top songs, books and movies. It has the ability to
add customized text and pictures of your own. It can even do a running slide show
of pictures. We are using it this month to create a personal event
book for someone retiring.
The many holidays in December provide many opportunities to get together with
friends or acquaintances.
- Many people open their homes and share their special decorations with
people they know or care about.
- Individual homes or entire neighborhoods may decorate their homes and
allow them to be viewed as part of a "parade of lights" during
- Neighborhood caroling, sharing a hot drink or participating in a progressive
neighborhood dinner are cherished events in some communities.
- Some companies do auctions of holiday baskets with the proceeds going to
charity. For example, a work group might create a "family movie
basket" or a "sports basket" or a "puzzle
basket." Baskets are then bid on by employees with the highest
bidder winning the basket. These events provide a way for employees to
work together in a different way to create their basket, then know that the person who
wins has something special and the money is going to a good cause.
- Others create holiday wreaths that are decorated in a particular
theme. Again, the proceeds go to charity. Events like this allow
individual talents to be displayed in a way that the day-to-day workplace
- Teachers often participate by helping children create special hand made
gifts for their family members.
Another rich way to connect with others is to share the diversity of culture
that exists in our country.
- Companies may sponsor highlights of a particular natural heritage each
month throughout the year as part of a diversity education program.
- People of a particular ethnic background might share recipes for an
international lunch event.
- They might display native costumes and photographs of historical events or
- They might share the spoken language through story telling.
- They might share the culture through dancing, music, drumming or singing
- Employees might offer their personal services at an auction where the
proceeds go to charity. For example, employees in the accounting
department might offer to teach basic financial planning. Employees in
the computer department might offer to help someone with their home
computer. Some one might be a creative bow-maker offering to help wrap
presents. Or a talented cook might offer their services for a holiday
With those ideas to get you started, what ideas do you have for lightening up
How about getting your work group or management team together for a
your holidays be blessed with light and laughter this year.
- Politically Correct Holiday Stories: For an Enlightened Yuletide Season,
James Finn Garner. Hungry Minds Inc , 1995. ISBN:
- Christmas's Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book Of Kris Kringles, Merry
Jingles And Holiday Cheer, Kevin Cuddihy, Phillip Metcalfe . Potomac Books,
2005. ISBN: 1574889680
- Fun Works: Creating Places Where People Love to Work, Leslie Yerkes.
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2001. ISBN: 1576751546
Related newsletter articles: Most December
- Our Shared Times - a great
tool for creating customized newsletter timelines for special events.
The website explains how it works. Subscribers
to our monthly newsletter can purchase this for 1/2 price for a limited
time. Details are being sent with this month's newsletter
* Note: we use the word
"company" to mean any business organization or group, including
government and non-profit entities.
About our resource
links: We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in
these links. We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and
respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.
If you have comments about this month's topic, please let us know or take our
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