How Do You Balance Work With the Holiday Season?

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Career Advice

I’m sure you either grew really, really excited or you groaned once you read the title of this piece.

It’s possible that your work schedule has interfered with the traditions of the holiday season, that you look forward to with the fervor of Buddy the Elf. But it’s possible to get in those gift wrap marathons following a full day of work. Here are a few trade secrets:


Make your gift list ahead of time
You won’t have an entire week to get it together the way that you did during your college years. You’ll be at work. If you haven’t made your list already (and checked it twice) do it now.

Get your dates straight
Keep track of the office holiday party, your community bash, the Yankee Swap that you have with your friends every year, and any and all family celebrations with a calendar or your phone (whatever you prefer). And get those dates down way ahead of time. Between going to work every day and attending social events at night — even during the week — you’re bound to forget where you need to be. That’s why the calendar will remember for you.

Set an appointment with your family, if necessary — and keep it
Yes, it sounds unnecessary — after all, it’s your family and you shouldn’t have to set an appointment, especially if you live at home! But members of your family probably work too, and have busy schedules to keep, and setting a time to partake in the important traditions that go with the holidays is imperative. Pick a weekend to decorate the tree, bake the cookies, write out the place cards for the dinner table, etc.

Utilize online shopping
If the stores where you wish to buy your gifts for family, friends and co-workers are closed following a late night at the office, jump right on Amazon when you get home! And while I’d definitely recommend researching the vendor you purchase from before clicking “finalize order,” Etsy offers numerous custom-made gifts at reasonable prices.

Make the most of the weekend
Find yourself with a free weekend in early December or even just one weekend day free? Get that shopping done. See if anyone is available to exchange gifts early. Bake your cookies. And, of course, wrap, wrap, wrap!


Or, take the opposite route and get work done ahead of schedule. Big project due two days before the big family gathering? Get as much done as you can now. I know, I know, the weekends are supposed to be about getting away from work — but that thinking can go by the wayside during the holiday season, when you’ll be missing lots of work late in December anyway.

Be flexible
While some may find this a sad reality, the town tree lighting that you have grown to love so dearly may fall on the same night as the office holiday party, or your December monthly team meeting that happens to be held at night. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to skip the tree lighting and fulfill your work obligation.

However, don’t totally despair. Maybe, with a little internet research, you can find another local tree lighting that falls on another night.

Yes, balancing your work schedule with the holiday season seems difficult. But even those of us with the largest extended families manage to get it done. Don’t forget — rest is important, too.

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