‘Tis the season, and if you don’t think so, reminders are everywhere. It doesn’t matter what you celebrate or even if you celebrate; there’s no escaping décor is in the air, along with the scent of nutmeg and cinnamon.


anonymity versus personalization

Many workplaces are now evolving (or devolving, depending on your outlook) to the pod or hotel system where workspaces are clustered, anonymous and unremarkable from each other. If you need a place to work, you take whatever’s available. Other workers have the ability to work remotely or from home, rarely if ever seeing a bricks and mortar establishment.

Anonymity may work for some people, but the rest of us prefer to personalize our workspace, to have a place that’s uniquely ours. We’re not just riding transit twice a day to reach a monolithic place of work but our own space within that place of work. Personalizing our workspace makes us feel connected, inspired and comfortable, which adds to our productivity, creativity and engagement. And nothing says you belong like reminders of home and the people who inspire you to come to work every day.

but shouldn’t we avoid religious holiday stuff at work?

Decorating your workspace at holiday time can be a slippery slope in these times of extreme political correctness. For a while, if you weren’t acknowledging everything, you were expected to acknowledge nothing. The pendulum is slowing swinging the other way, landing on some new normal that will be the rule – until a new one replaces it.

In the meantime, if you feel like decorating, decorate away as long as you’re respectful, tasteful and not over the top. Remember, it’s first and foremost a place where work gets done. Here are some things to think about as you plan.

1. add a dash of colour

Colour has long affected mood; that’s why you should avoid neon-bright colours in your bedroom if you’re looking for a good night’s sleep. There’s a reason fire trucks are red; red has been proven to raise the heart rate and create alertness. If you can change the colour of your workspace, go for a colour that makes you feel good.

Traditional holiday colours are red and green but today anything goes. Silver and gold are always fun! And apparently pink - particularly that dusty rose shade, Millennial Pink - is the new holiday colour for trees, décor and wardrobe. Go figure.

Use a splash of your colour of choice in your accessories and artwork to brighten up your workspace and bring the holidays to your cubicle.

2. adopt some greenery

Nothing brings a workspace to life faster than plants and greenery.  For the holidays, try adding a desktop tree which you can decorate some ornaments. Even better if you can get a real plant. The colours and textures living plants bring to the job are associated with the environment, which is why we talk about plants as bringing the outdoors inside.

Besides their aesthetic, plants contribute to our health and well being, especially in environments where windows don’t open and stale air is recirculated. Plants purify the air, releasing oxygen as they absorb carbon dioxide. In fact, a Norwegian study in the late 1990s studied 60 workers and reported reduced a 23% reduction of fatigue and headaches, and increased ability to concentrate when plants were present in the work environment. As well, 37% of colds, coughs, eye irritations and skin problems were also reduced. Researchers attributed their findings to a combination of improved air quality in the presence of plants and a more pleasant environment.

3. get a holiday mug

You may not be able to string lights, but you can bring the holidays – any holiday for that matter – and its accompanying spirit into your workspace. Change your regular coffee mug for a holiday inspired one. Bring in a few (they’re inexpensive enough at your local dollar store) and leave them in the lunchroom. Not only will you feel more cheerful with your morning cuppa, but your work mates will too.

4. update your screen saver

Change your computer desktop screensaver to a holiday inspiredtheme. It’s easy to do and quick to change up. Use a family photo of a happy holiday event – it’ll keep you in the spirit and might encourage your colleagues to start thinking – and behaving – holiday.

5. share the mood with food

Be the most popular kid in your department by keeping a bowl of seasonal candies and treats on your desk. They’re not expensive and don’t take up much room. But don’t be surprised if people start hanging out at your desk – they may come for the treats but they’ll stay for the feelings of goodwill you inspire.

6. start a holiday card collection

If your organization still receives holiday cards from vendors and suppliers by mail, collect them and string them so you and your colleagues can see and enjoy them. It’s a quick, simple way to bring colour and cheer into the workplace.

If your organization doesn’t have a policy on what’s acceptable in terms of décor and holiday acknowledgements, encourage them to create one. Offer to form a committee to create an equitable, acceptable and enjoyable policy that enhances inclusion and camaraderie, and educates and inspires. Make sure whatever policy your company follows is sensitive to employees who don’t choose to participate or celebrate.

If you work a standard full-time job, you spend well over a third of your life at work and getting to and from it. Why not make the most of your time there (outside of working, of course) by creating an environment you enjoy all year ‘round?

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