Eat, Drink & Be Merry: A guide to holiday at the office

We love the holidays! Decorating the tree, spending time with family, homemade dinners, giving the perfect gifts, and of course, holiday parties. For young professionals, holiday gatherings can be a great place for networking, and if attending one thrown by your own company, a great place for bonding with your coworkers. Yet in the midst of all the merriment that takes place during the holidays, we know how easy it is for budgets to get stretched. So the next time you need a quick gift for a secret santa at the office, or to give to the host of a party, here are a couple of inexpensive ideas to help you keep your bank account in balance this holiday season.

Holiday Cards

Not everyone at your workplace or in your life needs a gift, and Christmas cards are the perfect way to send cheer or to show your appreciation. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then New Years, sending a “Happy Holidays” card is a great way to cover all three. It’s easy to ring up a bill at the register if you have a list of people you want to send or give cards to, so save money by making them yourself, or buying at a reduced price. If you’re feeling crafty, simply buy some  plain inexpensive cardstock and decorate however you’d like with a calligraphy pen or watercolor. And if you can manage to wait a day or two after Christmas, you’ll find most stores offering huge discounts to clear out their leftover stock. Try Ollie’s, Big Lots, or World Market for cute cards and cheap prices.

Holiday Cards

Hand-Made Gifts

Say a card doesn’t quite cover it and you want or need to get something for someone, yet you have no idea what to get them – think of hand-made gifts! You probably have most of the necessary ingredients or supplies right at home. Make a peppermint sugar scrub, fill a christmas mug with hot chocolate supplies or personalize ornaments, coasters, or a wine bottle to any style your coworker would like. Hobby Lobby is a great place to get discount crafting vessels, decorations, supplies, or even ideas. This BuzzFeed article is an awesome resource for DIY gifting ideas for anyone on your list.

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Goodie Bags

If you are crunched on time and hand-made gifts are just not possible, put together a holiday goodie bag. More than likely, coworkers always need office or desk supplies, so throw in festive pens and sticky notes and then add candy, mints, or a key chain. Make it personal by adding a little something you know the receiver will really like – a locally made bar of soap, a fragrant candle, or a $5 or $10 gift card for their favorite coffee shop or iTunes. This site lists fun and quirky office supplies at various price points.

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(left photo: popcorn and gloves)

Food

Depending of the formality of the event, sometimes you may be asked to bring food or drink. You don’t have to spend all night baking an elaborate dish, bring simple foods but dress them up. For example, instead of bringing chips, bring homemade chocolate covered pretzels – you could even add peppermint chips or green and red M&Ms. Sometimes simply adding festive garnish can make it look like you spent a lot more time in the kitchen then you actually did. Here are recipes for eggnog dip and snowmen oreo pops.

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Decorations

If you are put on a committee in charge of social gatherings for the office, or are lending a hand to the host, it’s helpful to know how to cheaply and efficiently decorate for the occasion. Don’t underestimate what a little spray paint and glitter can’t do. As mentioned above, Hobby Lobby is a create resource for decorations, but so is a dollar store! Modge podge leaves to plain white candles and tie a piece of twine around them, add cranberries to flower vases, use pine cones and holly leaves as part of table runner centerpieces, or fill glass pillars with ornaments.

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Holiday parties are a great venue for getting to know your company culture, socializing with coworkers, and even networking. You may find yourself mingling with coworkers who work in different departments and levels of your organization, or you may even meet connections via your coworker’s significant others or guests. Whatever the event, or gift, remember to say thank you. Just as employers remember when you send them thank you cards after interviews, hosts and gift givers remember that same small gesture of gratitude.

Are you attending any holiday office party/events this year? What gifts are you giving to your coworkers? Any easy office decorating tips? Let us know in a comment below!

-Caroline Robinson & Savannah Valade

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