By Nadira A. Hira
December 7, 2007

A few more festive words from expert Mary Crane, who helped us with “Surviving the holiday party” last week. This time, she weighs in with everything else you’ll need to know to make a good showing this season. Enjoy, and have a good weekend!

  • Holiday cards. These are a great way to reconnect with friends and contacts, and they can be particularly useful for business. “Start a holiday card list right now and commit to adding names to it throughout next year,” says Crane. “Eventually, this list may become the basis for your own professional network.” Some offices provide cards for you to send to friends and contacts, and even if yours doesn’t, consider investing in some for those relationships you’d like to give special attention. And speaking of special attention, make an effort to hand sign each and every holiday card that you send, personalizing where possible. Even a simple signoff — “Wishing you the happiest holiday,” for example — communicates that you’re personally interested in the recipient, Crane says, and that goes a long way in differentiating your greeting from the standard corporate fare many people are used to receiving. As for those of you who like to send out holiday newsletters and TMI-laced photocards to your entire contact list, get a life. (That’s from me, not Crane, who is far to nice to be that blunt!) No one will think better of you after seeing you kissing little Rover.
  • Holiday gifts. For those of us who’ve made friends at work or have strong relationships with a superior or two, a few holiday gifts may be in order. But before you do any buying, Crane recommends checking your company’s policy to make sure that gift-giving is allowed and to find out if there are any limits on gift values. Once you’ve got all that down, put together a list of gift-getters and go shopping. But don’t go overboard. While Crane says an attractive scarf or tie, scented candle, or candy dish can demonstrate your good taste, clothes and cologne will do the opposite. Avoid anything too personal or, worse yet, kitschy. And don’t forget the people in your office’s copy center, mailroom, tech center, and library: “A tray of cookies or a bin of popcorn helps show how much you appreciate the services these people provide in supporting you and your work.”
  • Holiday tipping. If you’re new to the real world (or a real-world salary), it’s easy to overlook the importance of tipping the people who’ve made your life livable all year. If you’ve moved into your first condo, Crane says, plan to tip the building supervisor ($20-$200) and the doorman ($10-$100). And with any luck, you’ve also established yourself as a regular diner at several restaurants for business and pleasure. Obviously, this has its benefits — immediate seating, special attention, and the like. So Crane says to “make sure you recognize the special services of the maitre d’, bartender and wait staff with tips ranging between $50 and $100.” They’ll be sure to keep you looking like a star when you arrive with your next important client or date. (And no worries if none of this applies to you yet; there’s plenty of time to get there!)

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