Making Your Holiday Celebrations More Inclusive

#Christmas
Nov 04, 2021 · Blog


As many of us get ready for Christmas celebrations next months, thousands of people across the UK will be celebrating the start of Diwali today, the five-day Hindu Festival of Lights.


In a recent YouGov study on Christian religious holidays, it was revealed that nearly nine in ten Britons, which is 86%, celebrate Christmas and over half, 54%, celebrate Easter. It also showed that just one in ten said they don’t celebrate either of these holidays.

A lot of us associate December with traditional Christmas holidays. The gift exchanging, the carol singing, the festive end-of-year party and any other jolly activities to do with the big day. However, the people belonging to that one in ten could be left feeling excluded and unhappy at work if companies don’t take the right steps to make sure their celebrations aren’t inclusive of different beliefs and preferences.


Figures from a recent survey showed that 52% of the UK public said they don’t belong to any religion, 38% identified as Christian, and 9% identified with other faiths. That 9% still makes up for over six million people!


Despite the diversity in the UK, there’s still a lot of pressure to have Christmas parties at the end of the year, and don’t get us wrong, we agree that hosting an office party or celebrating the festivities at work is a great way to recognise your employees.


Showing appreciation for your employees is the entire point!


Celebrating together can play a huge role in how your employees feel about their overall work experience and can provide a great chance for them to strengthen relationships with their co-workers, build morale and improve overall team cohesion. With this in mind, it’s important to be aware and inclusive of your entire team to avoid anyone feeling left out.


Here’s what Eric Peterson, a diversity and inclusion trainer, shares on inclusivity and religious celebrating holidays.

“One way to not be inclusive is to make somebody feel invisible, to make them feel as though the organisation just has no idea who they are, what is pleasing to them and what is offensive. That might happen when what an employer calls a “holiday party” is really a Christmas party in disguise. There’s a big tree with ornaments and gifts underneath, which for most people corresponds with Christmas.
That doesn’t mean you should shy away from acknowledging Christmas. Christians are part of the workforce, too. Make sure people understand that it’s fine to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to those who celebrate that tradition, but that not everyone does.
However, the significant attention and build-up to Christmas can overshadow non-Christian holidays.
There are holidays and celebrations that happen throughout the year, and yet they don’t seem to get the same kind of attention that holidays at the end of the year do.”

For a more inclusive approach companies may also choose to recognise that their employees come from different faiths and have different traditions celebrated at different times.

Here are the key Autumn and Winter holidays you should be mindful of:


Diwali | 4th November 2021 | Diwali, the festival of lights, is a religious observance commemorated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists around the world.


Hanukka | 28th November 2021 | Hanukkah is the eight-day Jewish festival also known as the Festival of Lights. Jews around the world light one candle on a nigh-branched menorah each day.


Bodhi Day | 8th December 2021 | Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday which commemorates the day that Siddartha Guatama, the historical Buddha, experienced enlightenment.


Christmas | 25th December 2021 | Christmas is the Christian festival that celebrates the birth of Jesus. It is one of two of the most prominent holidays for Christianity, with Easter being the other one.


Kwanzaa | 26th December 2021 | Kwanzaa, which means ‘first fruits’ is a weeklong secular holiday that was developed to encourage and support Black people in engaging and respecting their culture.

Lunar NewYear | 12th February 2021 | Lunar New Year, also known as ChineseNew Year begins on the date (in East Asia) of the second new Moon after the winter solstice.


As well as considering the beliefs and traditions of your employees before you get carried away with the tinsel in the office, it’s also worth remembering that Christmas isn’t everyone’s favourite time of the year.

Often, the stress and pressure of the festive holiday can trigger sadness and depression for many people. There’s an expectation to feel happy, merry, and generous which can be difficult for some. It can be easy to compare your emotions to others when this expectation is so common and can often leave people feeling isolated and alone.

There are loads of reasons why Christmas can be tough for some people, but here are some common ones to keep in mind as we get closer to December:

-      Family and friends who aren’t around

-      The feeling of wanting to avoid people or situations

-      Loneliness

-      Finance and money concerns

-      Lack of access to support services

-      Being unwell

If you're looking for ways to support the wellbeing of your employees this Christmas, have a read of our blog post on How to Help Your Employees Have A Stress-Free Christmas.


Taking all these factors into consideration, here’s our advice on how you can carry out more inclusive holiday events or celebrations together:

1.    Give your employees the choice to attend

It’s important to make sure any Christmas themed events or activities are completely voluntary. The goal is to make them feel appreciated and give them a reward for all their hard work but making it mandatory might make some people uncomfortable.

On any email or physical invitations make it clear that attendance for the event or activity is completely optional.


2.    Appoint a diverse event committee

Diversity in the workplace is great and can provide new ways of thinking by reaching a wider range of customers to grow your business, but we’re sure you already know this!

That’s why it’s important that your planning committee is also made up of a diverse team to help avoid any mistakes or exclusions.


3.    Check dietary requirements

There’s no shame in admitting that the food is your favourite part of Christmas, but at work it’s important to provide all the right options to suit everyone’s requirements.

Check what the preferences are of your employees and be prepared to have kosher, halal, vegetarian and vegan options available.


4.     Consider a two-part event

For some religions people may prefer not to drink alcohol, so it’s good to offer two parts to your festive event so they can take part without feeling like there is a pressure or expectation to drink if you go to a bar or restaurant.

Handi Chehabeddine, a diversity trainer on Islam, suggests that companies should plan a party with two parts, “one with no alcohol in the initial stage when leaders thank employees and make any special announcements, and then a more free-flowing celebration in which alcohol is available and music is played. The schedule of the events should be clearly spelled out in the invitation, so attendees know what to expect.”


5.    Ask for feedback

Inviting employees to give their feedback on the events and activities that you organise this year will help you improve them next year.

You could do this completely anonymously, so employees feel comfortable making honest comments.


At the end of the day, what matters most is the health and wellbeing of your employees. So whether you're working with a remote team based remotely and you're gearing up for your virtual celebrations online, or you've already put in plans for your festive office party ahead of the holiday season, being mindful and respectful of each individual is what counts most.


Check out our full range of festive and year-round gift boxes to suit your appreciation needs this winter.
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