In many parts of the world, the months of November and December are known as “the holiday season”. It is a time for religious observations as well as secular celebrations with gatherings, music, food, presents, and decorations. This often extends to the workplace in the form of office parties and gift exchanges.
In this environment, it can be a challenge to figure out which types of holiday-related messages are appropriate. Should you mention the holidays in your work emails? When is it okay to wish someone a Merry Christmas? What if you are writing to a diverse group of people and you aren’t sure who celebrates which holidays? Should you ignore the holidays altogether?
As you have probably guessed, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that will fit every situation. Instead, over the next few weeks, we will be going over some general guidelines to help you sort out what types of holiday greetings are right for the people who will be receiving your messages.
The first step is making sure you know your audience.
Before you decide whether to mention a particular holiday — or any holidays– in a business email, think about who will be receiving it. Is your email directed at one person? If so, your holiday message can be more personal. For example, if you are writing to a colleague who has mentioned taking the kids to Disneyland for “the holidays”, you can include a line or two about it in your response:
I hope you and your kids have a wonderful holiday trip to Disneyland! I will see you when you come back to the office in January.
If you are writing an email to two or more people, take a moment to consider each person’s culture or background. Are all of the members of the group celebrating the same holidays? If so, your greetings can be more specific:
Have a fantastic Thanksgiving!
May your eight days of Hanukkah be filled with warmth and light!
May the Christmas spirit be upon you all!
Wishing all of you a joyous Kwanzaa!
What if the members of a group are celebrating different holidays? If this is the case, your holiday greeting should be less specific:
I hope everyone out there has a safe and happy holiday season!
Season’s greetings to everyone at ABC Company!
What if you are writing to a group that includes people who are not celebrating any of the November/December holidays? What if the major holidays of their culture occur at another time of the year? You want to acknowledge the holidays for those who are celebrating, yet you don’t want the rest of the group to feel excluded.
Messages of “joy and peace” are universal, so you could include a greeting to that effect. If everyone in the group email is getting a break from work or school, mentioning that in your email is a good way to bring everyone together:
Enjoy your days off! I hope you all get some well-deserved rest!
I will see you all when we come back from our break. Have a good one, everybody!
The more you know about the person — or people– who will be reading your email, the easier it is to tailor your message to your audience.
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