Taking a Business Approach to the Holidays
In 1991, Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli wrote a wonderful book called Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide To Putting Love And Joy Back in the Season. “Christmas Machine” talks about what Christmas has become for many people—a build up of pressure, expectations and obligations–all to the detriment of the real meaning of the holiday and the joy of the season. Whether we celebrate Christmas or not, we can get swept up in the frenzy and come out the other side exhausted and resentful.
It’s not that the holidays have become meaningless or empty, it’s that they aretoo full. Instead of prioritizing what is important, we try to do it all (and in many cases do it all ourselves). Let’s look at the holidays from a project management approach.
If the holidays were a project, what steps would you take in planning it?
- Determine the priorities: At the end of all your efforts, what do you want to have in place? What do you want for your holidays? What are your top three priorities?
- Steps needed to achieve these goals: If one of your priorities is, say, family fun, what does “family fun” look like? Check with the SMEs (your family). You may discover that some things you slave over are not really important to your target audience.
- Who should be involved: In the workplace, we understand that involvement builds buy-in. Involve family members in holiday decision-making. Do the activities you engage in reflect the traditions of all members of your family? Again, check with your SMEs. What does your significant other remember and want to celebrate from his/her childhood? What have the kids outgrown?
- Delegate: Maybe 10-year-old Sam doesn’t wrap gifts the way you would, but he/she LOVES to wrap. Delegate, train and coach. Next year there can be less supervision.
- What are the parameters/budget/deadlines: If there is a budget let everyone know upfront to avoid misunderstanding and budget over-runs. Same for deadlines (cookies must be made by Dec 19 or they are not going to happen). Stick to your deadlines. If a deadline comes and someone has fallen down on the job, so be it…they knew the parameters and deadlines.
Unplug the Christmas Machine gives guidance on how to make this time of year more meaningful. The intent of the book is not to add more to the “shoulds” of the season, but rather to help us choose how we want to celebrate as opposed to the path forged by the media and retail. There are exercises, thought provoking questions, and terrific suggestions on how to be more aware and discerning this holiday season.
After talking to your SMEs, you may decide to make a small change in this year’s festivities. Have a blessed and wonderful holiday!