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by Kirsten Ross, SPHR

The holiday season is a great time to incorporate family activities into the workplace and working towards that “family friendly” environment.  Allowing employees to bring children and spouses in to share time together will build employee morale and can help create a more bonded workforce.  It is also a time to share the diversity of cultures.  December is a month rich in it’s variety of holidays and, thus, fun activities.

Now is the time to start planning.  Have a potluck and ask employees to bring in dishes that their families share during their holiday celebrations.  Encourage people to volunteer to discuss the activities that they share during this time.  Plan activities that are fun for children of all ages around the different holidays. The internet is a rich source of information on the many holidays.  You can also find many fun low or no cost activities.

Here is a list of some of the December holidays with a brief definition.

Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. It also commemorates the miracle of the oil that burned for 8 days.    

Christmas is a time for Families, Fun, and Festivities! A time of family gatherings and holiday meals. A time for Santa, stars, and singing carolers. A time for ornaments, gifts, and twinkling lights. Of sleigh rides, hot cocoa, and gingerbread cookies

Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, Christmas, and Saturnalia, occurs in mid December. It is celebrate the birth of the new Solar year and the beginning of winter. The Goddess manifests as the Great Mother and the God as the Sun Child. The God also appears as Santa Claus and Old Man Winter. Colors are Red, Green, and White. This is a festival of inner renewal. From:

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. It is during this month that Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. Lasting for the entire month, Muslims fast during the daylight hours and in the evening eat small meals and visit with friends and family. It is a time of worship and contemplation. A time to strengthen family and community ties.   From:

Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture.  Celebrated from December 26th thru January 1st, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa.  Kwanzaa builds on the five fundamental activities of Continental African "first fruit" celebrations: ingathering; reverence; commemoration; and recommitment.


ý    Use the holiday activities as a way of enhancing respect for differing family traditions.  Stress common themes to help employees and their families connect with one another.  It is often through this kind of sharing that we learn that are have more in common than we thought. 

ý    Make sure not to stereotype.  Not all members of an ethnic background observe the same holidays.  And there may be vast differences in family tradition.  So, ask only for volunteers to share “family holiday traditions.”  Don’t single anyone out asking for participation to cover a specific holiday. 

ý    Make sure that participation in the event as a whole is not mandatory.  Some religions teach that celebrating holidays or birthdays is wrong.

Kirsten Ross is mother of two sons and is a Certified Human Resource Professional (SPHR) dedicated to helping women achieve more life balance and to transforming the design of work.

Visit at to search our revolutionary flexible work job board featuring more than 35,000 fresh work from home, part time, job share, flex time and telecommuting opportunities, search for a job share partner or read valuable career, life balance and family articles.  You may also email her at



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