Creating an Inclusive Holiday Celebration at Work

by Dec 6, 2023

The holiday season is a time for celebration, joy, and togetherness. In a diverse workplace (like ours), it’s super important that celebrations embrace everyone, making sure it’s all-inclusive and respectful. We want everyone to feel that warmth and joy without leaving anyone out! 

So, I’ve been working on this virtual holiday party program at Civility Partners, and our CEO, Catherine, was spot on in reminding me to call it a “holiday” party rather than a “Christmas” one, which totally makes sense since not everyone celebrates Christmas, right? And our COO, Rebecca, also made a great point about being inclusive in our activities. I’m really lucky to work with leaders who genuinely care about everyone and go the extra mile for our inclusivity efforts.


Inclusive Holiday Celebration at Work

So I came up with a few ideas brewing on how to create an inclusive holiday celebration at work.


Collect Employee Feedback

Making decisions needs solid data to prioritize efforts and set the stage for future success. That’s why checking in with your team, whether it’s regularly or during their onboarding, can give you invaluable insights into what they need and want.

One way to start is by asking a question like, “How comfortable do you feel expressing yourself at work?” Unfortunately, not everyone feels they can be their true selves or freely voice their thoughts at work. A Gallup survey found that only three in 10 employees strongly feels their opinions really count at work.


Establish a System of Training

Establish your system of training all year round. Relying on a single standalone training program is not sufficient to create meaningful change in company culture. We all know this instinctively, but in practice, many companies continue to do a little training here and there and hope it makes a difference. 

Our experience working with organizations of all sizes, from international corporations with thousands of employees to small consulting firms, has shown that embracing a system of training as a central part of company culture is what brings about positive change and creates a desirable work environment. 

Part of that means offering DEIB, intercultural communication, bystander to upstander, psychological safety training and more. These sessions aren’t just about ticking a box; they’re about educating your team on cultural awareness and sensitivity. Check out our most popular training programs here.


Add Global Holidays to your Company Calendar 

Having a roadmap of major holidays and festivities throughout the year is a fantastic way to keep your team in sync. Many organizations use interfaith calendars to keep track of significant dates. Here are some key holidays to remember during the holiday season:

  • December 7-15: Hanukkah (Jewish)
  • December 8: Bodhi Day (Buddhist)
  • December 16-24: Posadas Navidenas (Hispanic Christian)
  • December 23-January 1: Yule (Pagan and Wiccan)
  • December 25: Christmas (Christian)

Floating holiday options can be a great way for each team member to observe their most significant celebrations. It’s crucial that during these times, managers and coworkers respect their colleagues’ time away from work. 


Opt for Inclusive Decorations and Activities

When it comes to decorating the workplace or planning holiday activities, inclusivity is key. Choosing symbols and themes that embrace a variety of celebrations helps create an environment where everyone feels included and respected.

One approach is to opt for neutral decorations, like winter-themed décor. Snowflakes, winter landscapes, or seasonal greenery can add a festive touch without tying to a specific holiday.

Another great idea is to incorporate a range of cultural symbols that represent the diversity within your team. This could involve displaying decorations or symbols from various traditions and celebrations, celebrating the richness of different cultures and backgrounds.


Respect Individual Choices

Respecting individual choices during holiday-related activities is crucial. Not everyone may want to take part in these celebrations due to personal beliefs, preferences, or various reasons. Making sure participation is entirely voluntary and never mandatory is key to creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable.

Additionally, being mindful about alcohol in the context of gift exchanges or parties is important. Some individuals may choose not to drink for personal or cultural reasons. Establishing guidelines regarding the serving of alcohol at employee gatherings is a thoughtful step. 


Closing Thoughts

Building an inclusive holiday celebration at work isn’t just about tinsel and lights; it’s about weaving a tapestry of respect, understanding, and appreciation for everyone on the team. 

Catherine’s LinkedIn Learning course on Managing Diversity is a goldmine. It’ll help you craft a solid plan to champion diversity and inclusion at work.

As we wrap up our plans for this year’s festivities, remember that inclusivity isn’t a one-time event—it’s a commitment that transforms workplace culture into a warm and welcoming space for all, not just during the holidays but all year round. 

Happy Holidays!

When it comes to DEI, language matters…and it’s constantly evolving. Are you using the right terminology in your organization? Download our DEI Terminology Cheat Sheet and see how you stack up.


About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

Can a Wage Increase Make Employees More Productive?

In California, the upcoming minimum wage boost for fast food workers to $20 starting April 1st has ignited discussions about its potential influence on worker productivity.  Currently, the median hourly wage for fast-food workers in the U.S. is $13.43, while in...

Why Every Leader Needs to Worry About Toxic Work Culture

Employees quit their jobs for different reasons, and a major one is because of a toxic workplace environment. In fact, researchers discovered that between April and September 2021, toxic culture was the main reason why employees decided to leave their jobs. A toxic...

Civility Partners at 15 Years!

2024 marks an incredible milestone for us—our 15th-anniversary celebration! Yes, you read that right—15 years of making a positive impact on over 270 organizations served, thousands of employees, and millions of people worldwide! Thanks to the vision of our founder...

Driving Organizational Success Through Behavior Change

How can you make your workplace more exciting and successful?  Organizational success is not solely dependent on strategies or cutting-edge technologies. Instead, the key driver of success lies within the organization itself—specifically, within the collective...

How Much is Your Culture Costing You?

Creating a positive workplace culture isn't just a nice-to-have; it's a key player in the success of any business. It goes beyond token gestures like wellness days and promotions; it's fundamentally about how you treat your people, the support you extend to your team,...

Are you bamboozled by your company’s culture?

Your first day at a new job is a lot like embarking on an adventure. You step through the doors, eager and optimistic, your mind filled with expectations set by the promises of the company’s values and mission. For some, these principles are more than just words on a...

The Brave Leader’s Edge: Vulnerability in Leadership

How many times have you cried in front of your team? How many times have you admitted to not having all the answers or feeling unsure about the direction ahead? In the traditional realm of leadership, these instances might have been considered taboo or signs of...

3 Organizations that are Combating Technology-Facilitated Abuse

The reach of technology is astonishingly broad. It's awesome how it brings us all closer, but when it's not handled well, it can cause some serious problems too. From monitoring phone conversations to tracking someone's every move through GPS, access to emails, texts,...

Five Essential Tips for Effective Workplace Communication

Effective communication is like the secret sauce that makes a workplace go from good to great. Whether you're a team player or steering the ship as a leader, honing your communication skills is a game-changer. According to Grammarly, poor communication in the...

Craft a Thriving Culture for 2024 and Beyond!

The turn of the year often marks a time for personal resolutions, but what about resolutions for the workplace? According to Gallup, employee engagement in the U.S. saw its first annual decline in a decade -- dropping from 36% of engaged employees in 2020 to 34% in...