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How To Create an Inclusive Corporate Holiday Environment

How To Create an Inclusive Corporate Holiday Environment

As November and December near, companies across the U.S start to prepare for festive celebrations, time off, and over-the-top gift giving. These jolly celebrations largely revolve around the three most observed holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
While nearly 85% of Americans celebrate Christmas, according to Statista, this still leaves a generous gap for those who observe other cultural and religious holidays not considered as Federal Holidays. As you continue to expand your workforce, it’s likely you’re going to continue welcoming individuals of various backgrounds and traditions.  In order to support a culturally diverse work environment, it is important to take these other celebrations into account and plan accordingly.
This upcoming holiday season is a great place to start!
We’ll share 7 additional holidays you may want to consider, the importance of inclusion during the holidays, as well as an action plan to celebrate!   

Diverse Holidays and Observances to Consider

1. Diwali (Dates: October 24th)

Otherwise known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, Diwali is India’s largest holiday celebration. While this festival is celebrated largely by Hindus, countless other religions recognize the day and participate in the activities as well. Diwali is commonly observed with extravagant lighting, decorations, fireworks, gifts, and feasts.

2. Hanukkah (Dates: December 18-26)

Reaffirming the ideals of Judaism, this popular holiday marks an eight-day celebration full of games, gifts, traditional dishes, and the lighting of the menorah. The practice of lighting candles has become a Jewish tradition, making light to the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

3. Winter Solstice (Date: December 21)

Signifying that the days only get longer from this point, the Winter Solstice is celebrated all around the world!  Each culture celebrates the day with their own unique traditions. In England, it is observed by gathering around Stonehenge for celebrations that remain calm and sacred in nature. In Iran, they celebrate the Winter Solstice as a victory of light over darkness. Traditionally, they will eat summer fruits on this day as a symbol of protection over the winter illnesses. Vancouver notably celebrates with their own lantern festival. Attendees will walk through a maze of 600 lights, where they are encouraged to let go of their old thoughts to make room for all the possibilities ahead. 

4. Dongzhi Festival (Date: December 21)

Celebrated in China on the shortest day of the year, the Dongzhi festival is a notable marker of the Winter Solstice. This festival is celebrated in hopes that the season is turning towards warmer, spring weather. The Dongzhi festival is best celebrated with a hearty meal such as dumplings, wontons, mutton soup, etc.

5. Pancha Ganapati (Dates: December 21-25)

This five day festival is commonly celebrated in the Hindu culture, in honor of Lord Genesha. Pancha Ganapati is commemorated with large public outings, picnics, gift exchanges, and meaningful cards. 

6. Kwanzaa (Dates: December 26-January 1)

This weeklong holiday honors African heritage through the lens of African American culture. Kwanzaa is the celebration of family, culture, and community. This is traditionally celebrated with gift giving and a large feast.

7. Lunar New Year (Date: January 22)

The Lunar New Year marks one of the most important celebrations in China as well as various other East/Southeast Asian countries. Based on the cycles of the moon, each new year revolves around a particular zodiac animal. Celebrations symbolize abundance, prosperity, and time together.

While this is certainly not an extensive list of all the holidays, it is a great start. 

Creating a space for cross-cultural celebrations should not be an overwhelming task. It all starts by learning from your teammates which traditions they look forward to most during the holiday season. Your team will be better served if everyone is able to celebrate on their own terms!

How to Celebrate Culturally Diverse Holidays 

Encourage various holiday celebrations

To further encourage culturally diverse celebrations, keep the festivities as general as possible. You could encourage employees to bring in their favorite holiday dishes, or you could organize a potluck where you cater various ethnically diverse dishes! This allows employees to start meaningful conversations, engage with others in a new way, and celebrate together!

Offer floating holidays

For the possibility of other holidays or cultural observances your employees may participate in throughout the year, offer floating holidays. This gives an employee the opportunity to take time off and commemorate the cultural or religious events that are most important to them.

Put it on the calendar

Have a shared/public office calendar to keep track of important dates. Prepare to allow time off requests accordingly. In the calendar, make note of religious observances with particular restrictions (i.e. fasting, home before sundown), so that all can be on the same page about potential accommodations. Which brings us to our next point:

Have flexible meeting times

Be cognizant of people’s availability during particular holidays or religious observances. Though someone may not be taking time off, they still might have time restrictions on a given day. Be ready to adjust meeting times to accommodate their needs, or make sure to offer catch-up sessions or detailed notes if the meeting cannot be changed. This should be in addition to...

Time off

Offer people small ways to celebrate or observe specific holidays during the office day, if they choose not to take time off. This could include a few hours off to attend a service, a quiet space in the office to pray, or encouragement to wear whatever clothing. 

Make holiday celebrations optional

If your company is organizing a big Christmas party or a secret Santa gift exchange, do not make it mandatory for everyone to participate. It is important to realize that not every employee celebrates the same thing, in the same way. By keeping these celebrations optional, you do not pin anyone in an uncomfortable situation.


A small gesture like a gift relevant to the holiday(s) that each of your employees observe is a great way to celebrate them individually. This continues to foster diversity in and out of the workplace.

Inclusive Experience Ideas for Virtual/Remote Employees

  • Gratitude cards - everyone writes down a specific moment or story when a teammate was helpful. Once complete, send those notes to each person anonymously!
  • Recipe sharing - encourage team members to share their favorite traditional recipes to test amongst each other. 
  • Scavenger hunt - create a scavenger hunt that your employees can complete wherever they are located. This could involve finding specific holiday items or trying new foods! 
  • Game night! - There’s nothing like a little friendly competition. Send your team members our Battles & Bottles box, complete with drinks, bar tools, and some games to bring the energy.
  • Virtual cookie decorating - what's better than decorating some delicious cookies? Send each of your employees a cookie decorating kitlike our Batch, Please box and encourage them to decorate together online!

For more ideas, check out our entire Holiday Collection.

May the Celebrations Begin! 

All in all, the holidays are a great reminder to celebrate and thank your employees for their dedication throughout the year. By making an extra effort to be inclusive, your employees will feel greater involvement in their work and within your organization.

To make your company truly inclusive during the holidays, it is important to widen the scope of observed holidays, expand the holiday offerings, and celebrate alongside every single employee.

 Happy Holidays!

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