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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership development expert and author of Contagious Leadership and newly released, Make Difficult People Disappear.

There are so many ways to “say” Happy Holidays. How will you “say” it this year?

The holidays are here! Celebrations, office parties, and higher levels of stress will all be things added to your leadership list of things to do, but wait… which holiday do you celebrate in your office? How do you create a spirit of respect and inclusion for all the team members who may or may not celebrate one holiday or another or who may feel more like a Grinch, than a giddy elf? Here are 7 ways to not only say “Happy Holidays”, but lead happily during the holiday while you’re at the office.

Plan Ahead

Party planning for the holiday begins as early as late October. Your team members may have commitments that cover every weeknight or weekend from now to New Year’s already on the books. If you’re taking them out, involve them in the date and place that works for all. Consider doing a lunch instead of dinner. You want them to enjoy the occasion, not feel guilty because they can’t go or must cancel something else out of obligation to attend the work event.

Make Your Intent Clear

Holidays are not necessarily a happy occasion for all. Depending on your team and the holidays they choose to celebrate, simply saying you wish to help make this time special or relieve some of their holiday stress may be more appropriate than a specific holiday wish.

Watch What You Wish

In my former retail manager career, I remember reminding associates to wish customers “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas, out of respect to those who may not celebrate Christmas. No matter your holiday of choice, pay attention to your expectations and habits. “Happy Holidays!” shares the intent of your sentiment without assuming others share your particular beliefs.

Encourage Expression

If there are many differing beliefs and celebratory styles in the office, one way to not only include, but educate others on those differences, is to encourage open expression. This might look like a pot luck lunch where everyone brings their favorite holiday dish. Maybe there is a cube decorating contest that allows them to decorate in the way they celebrate the holiday.

Be Specific about Gifts

Gifts can be tricky at the office and it’s better to be specific about them than risk hurt feelings or embarrassment. If you’re exchanging gifts, consider setting specific guidelines or introducing a white elephant, fun gift giving experience to take the pressure off.

Give the Gift of Time

Much of what puts a damper on the holiday is the stress it causes as the list of things to do, gifts to buy, and event to attend grows daily. Maybe the best way to say “Happy Holidays” this year is to give everyone a half day off to get some of their goodies done.

Simply Say “Thanks”

While many are out buying gifts or ordering stuff to give away, maybe your way to celebrate the holiday spirit with the team, is to simply say “thank you” for their contributions, efforts, hard work, and loyalty.

I’m Monica Wofford, and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday, an even better week and of course, stay contagious!

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