Holidays in the Workplace in 2021: How to Navigate Your Holiday Calendar

The holidays are always a bit tricky in the workplace. Learn how to create a holiday marketing strategy and be inclusive for employees and customers.

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Many businesses make the mistake of waiting too long before creating a holiday marketing plan. This can result in fewer profits and countless missed opportunities.

According to a National Retail Federation report, small to midsized businesses will make as much as 20-40% of their sales revenue during the winter holiday season. And a whopping 40% of consumers admit to starting their holiday shopping before Halloween. It’s important to start as early as possible.

But while Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day continue to be the most popular seasons for promotions, they are hardly the only holidays that hold potential revenue.

For small and midsized businesses, it’s possible to integrate a whole host of holidays into your regular marketing schedule.

holiday decorations shop

Creating a holiday marketing strategy

Take an hour or two during your quietest sales quarter and reserve that time for setting up your holiday marketing strategy.

It’s easier said than done, but the main way to plan a stellar holiday marketing strategy is to plan ahead. Take an hour or two during your quietest sales quarter and reserve that time for setting up your holiday marketing strategy. Doing so will allow you to review potential holidays to prepare for, brainstorm activities and promotions, and schedule your planned activities.

There are really only 5 steps to setting up your holiday calendar:

  1. Set clear and practical goals. Ambition is always good but as a small business owner or sole marketing manager, it is important to consider just how much you can handle during this season. Taking on too much can overwork employees and lower customer service quality. Whenever possible, you’ll want to find activities or promotions that are easy to integrate into your current workflow.
  2. Analyze results from previous years. Look at customer data such as customer feedback, what products or services brought in the most revenue, your competitors’ holiday announcements, and what marketing strategy attracted the most customers. Then consider if any products or promotion types can be recycled into holiday-specific promotions. For example, could your smash hit Black Friday promotion be tweaked and repurposed for July 4th?
  3. Review your target demographics. A key factor is understanding your current customer base and your desired target market. Even planning an expansion into a new location close by can mean a new demographic with entirely different expectations.
  4. Have a streamlined marketing workflow. Holiday sales are more about pushing a graphic on social media. Depending on your business, you may want to take out ads in the paper or create a promotion with other nearby businesses. You’ll also need a way to quickly and efficiently update business information on your website and Google Business. Having poor customer experience or outdated workflows can both frustrate your workers when the orders come in, and upset consumers.
  5. Communicate with vendors. After you have created your marketing plan for this holiday season, reach out to your vendors. Try to keep consistent lines of communication open. Late delivery or issues with a product can cause disruption, especially during the holidays.

Holidays you might have planned for

Now that we’ve discussed how to plan your holiday calendar, we can jump into the potential holidays themselves. It’s also important to keep in mind that some holidays will benefit some industries more than others. For example, Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest times of year for a florist, but for payment software, it can be impossible to authentically integrate the holiday.

When looking at well-known public holidays and other celebrations, you still need to consider whether or not the holiday makes sense for your brand.

That said, key nationwide and federal holidays to watch out for are:

  • January
    • New Year’s Day
    • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February
    • President’s Day
    • Valentine’s Day
  • May
    • Mother’s Day
    • Memorial Day
  • June
  • July
    • Independence Day
  • September
    • Labor Day
  • October
    • U.S. Indigenous People’s Day
    • Columbus Day
    • Halloween
  • November
  • December
    • Christmas Day

Some observances aren’t strictly in one month. For example, the holiday date for Easter changes annually and could be held in March or April. You may also want to look at more specific state holidays if you are a local or regional business.

Building an inclusive holiday calendar

But there are many more popular holidays that are not on most holiday schedules. As businesses become more open and inclusive, including different religious holidays can also help owners to reach out to multiple communities in their area.

Here are some examples of popular holidays celebrated across the US:

  • Hanukkah: A Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights, starting on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. The date changes annually.
  • Kwanzaa: A 7-day holiday that celebrates African American culture and history. It begins on December 26th and ends on January 1st.
  • Ramadan and Eid: An Islamic holiday, Ramadan is a month-long period of fasting, similar to Lent, that ends in a celebration called Eid. The dates change annually as well.
  • Diwali: This holiday is a 5-day-long Hindu celebration that generally commemorates the triumph of good over evil, and usually takes place during late October and early November.
  • Holi: Another Hindu festival, Holi is widely known as a festival of colors and usually occurs in March.
  • Las Posadas: This holiday is celebrated by some Hispanic families in the United States and takes place right before Christmas.
  • Chinese New Year: This New Year is celebrated for 15 days, starting on the first day of the lunar year. The date usually falls between late January and early to mid-February.

There are many more specific holidays that matter to your ideal customer. To get an idea of how you can better serve your customers during the holidays, ask them!

You may also want to survey your employees, and provide days off during their holiday season. Even if you can’t find a way to authentically include a holiday into your workflow, you can still remain inclusive by considering the holidays your employees celebrate.

Outside of providing your diverse workforce with flexible PTO time, consider letting the team know about different holidays for the upcoming week in the company newsletter or Slack channel.

Even if you can’t find a way to authentically include a holiday into your workflow, you can still remain inclusive by considering the holidays your employees celebrate.

12 ideas for holiday activities

When it comes down to holiday ideas, there are several things you can do. For example, if you want to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and you own a cleaning business, creating an optional volunteer day to pick up litter or clean up a creek is a great way to bring employees together with a common cause while giving back to the community.

In fact, any kind of charitable activity is great for religious holidays. Some ideas include:

  • A food and blanket drive
  • Volunteering at a soup kitchen
  • Toy drives
  • Raising donations to assist economically disadvantaged families with utilities during the winter months

But there are many more marketing activities you’ll want to consider that aren’t just percentage-off sales. Our top ideas are:

  1. Giveaways on social media
  2. Partnerships with other businesses or relevant influencers
  3. Mystery gift upsells or bonuses
  4. Special coupons for your mailing list customers
  5. Gift-wrapping services
  6. Holiday-recommended bundles
  7. Free delivery during the holidays
  8. Weather-related discounts
  9. Virtual or in-person classes
  10. Customized consultation or shopping recommendations in-store
  11. Late shopper discounts
  12. Holiday party with catering at your store or a “virtual lunch” that delivers food to attendees

African ethnicity 35s businessman holding mobile phone enjoy conversation with client or personal chat with friend girlfriend take break during workday resting having fun listen pleasant positive news

Getting it all done

Get in touch with your customers. Whether it’s through a survey or speaking with them over the phone, understanding who they are and what they’d like to see is critical for a successful holiday marketing plan.

Whatever holidays you decide to celebrate and what marketing ideas you decide to use, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, get in touch with your customers. Whether it’s through a survey or speaking with them over the phone, understanding who they are and what they’d like to see is critical for a successful holiday marketing plan.

Next, you’ll want to review your team’s bandwidth and gauge employees for what holidays they celebrate.

Finally, after some additional competitor research and deciding on your key performance indicators, you just need to put everything together.

It may sound easier said than done. But a solid holiday schedule can make a difference, not only to your bottom line but to how your customers value your business.

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