Should you celebrate in a time of crisis?

Entrepreneur Rebecca Newenham talks about how to celebrate Christmas sensitively during challenging times.

Should you celebrate in a time of crisis?

Entrepreneur Rebecca Newenham talks about how to celebrate Christmas sensitively during challenging times.

Christmas is coming, but there is no escaping the headlines. It will be a difficult Christmas for many people and businesses. Should you cut back on the Christmas party or not? It’s a personal choice, but I think it’s still important to find ways to thank your clients and your staff.

What does Christmas mean to you and your business?

For some companies, Christmas is the busiest time of year, with not a second spare to stop and think about what it means. For others, it’s a quieter period, with time to reflect on the past 12 months and the year ahead.

It’s traditional for businesses to do something to thank their staff and clients at this time of year. I can certainly think of a few pretty epic Christmas parties in the past! Many companies send Christmas cards to clients or gift hampers to reward VIPs, thanking them for their custom during the year and hoping to boost their loyalty for the year to come.

This year, I think many business owners will be wrestling with what to do for the best.

On the one hand, businesses and people are struggling. You might not feel like you can afford to spend money on a staff do or Christmas gifts. But you might worry about the implications on staff morale if you don’t. Or you might want to send that wonderful gift to some of the clients who have made a big difference to your success this year but worry about how it will look. Will they think you’re being insensitive during difficult times? Or be grateful and go on to be even better clients next year?

Getting the balance right is hard, and it is something I have thought about myself over the past few weeks.

As a virtual team, our Christmas get-togethers are an important way of deepening relationships, getting to know each other better and having fun at the same time. But I’m also very conscious that times are tough, and not everyone feels like celebrating at the moment. In the end, I have decided that we all need a bit of light relief, and we are going ahead with our Christmas party. But I totally understand if not everybody chooses to come along this year.

Ultimately, you know your staff, your clients and your industry best.

If, despite everything that’s going on in the news, you’ve actually had a good year, it’s ok to celebrate! It’s important to celebrate your achievements and thank those who have been part of the journey, especially if there are potentially challenging months to come where you may need your clients’ and employees’ loyalty more than ever.

But if things are tight for you and your business, you won’t be alone. Reconsidering the traditions of the past and doing things differently is perfectly fine. I firmly believe that a simple thank you goes a long way. People don’t need to receive expensive gifts to feel special. A handwritten thank you or a small token gift will still make a difference. Most people will be grateful for any recognition and understand that these are not normal times.

If you do decide to change tradition, it’s best to communicate.

Be honest with those affected. Perhaps you have always given employees a Christmas bonus, or the slap-up Christmas meal with partners invited has to go this year. If it’s something that people will miss, it’s much better to be open about why you’ve changed things than keep quiet and hope nobody notices. That might be detrimental to team morale, as disgruntled employees feel they are missing out – potentially at a time when they need those gift vouchers or that night out the most.

If handled well, you can turn your cutbacks into positives. Helping your team to understand why things are different this year and working with them to find other ways to celebrate might bring you closer together. Clients might appreciate you telling them that the money you might have spent on Christmas cards this year has been donated to a local food bank to help families over Christmas. Social media and email mean you can still send Christmas wishes but in a more cost-effective way whilst demonstrating the human side of your business at the same time.

Christmas doesn’t have to be cancelled this year. With some creative thought, you can still find ways of thanking people and showing your appreciation at this special time of year.

Rebecca Newenham
Rebecca Newenham