Whilst it’s October now and seems like it’s ‘months’ till Christmas, it’s only 10 weeks away! That time will fly by incredibly quickly.
Here is a list of things to consider and remember in leading up to Christmas.
Staff Christmas Party
If you have staff, organise the venue for any staff Xmas party. Whether you’ve had a brilliant year, or it’s been a struggle, now is the time to ensure staff feel appreciated and valued. Venues fill quickly this time of year, so it’s best to choose a date and book a venue. Ensure also your venue/activity is safe (it’s a workplace activity, so WH&S applies), make it safe and if you have under 18’s you communicate with parents and get their permission, especially if the adult members of your team will be having a drink or two. On that note, if there is likely to be a few drinks, you might supply taxi vouchers to ensure no one ends up driving. Also consider those who don’t celebrate Christmas; you might call the event a “Year End Celebration” and do any Santa activities first. If you’ve team who want to celebrate year end, but not be around for gift sharing, then they can plan to arrive after the Gift/Santa items have occurred.
Staff Christmas Gifts
If you also want to give gifts, make them thoughtful and perhaps liaise with your Accountant as to what is or is not allowed by the ATO. Better to know in advance and make an informed decision. You can do things like Hampers, either getting made up by a company, or build your own, or go for vouchers, or personalise the gift so it’s really relevant to the person. Every business is different, as is the number of team. Consider the person if it’s a personal gift; I had a business associate who didn’t drink, but was always given bottles of wine.
Personalised Christmas Cards
A few businesses like to create their own cards (and may I suggest if you do and you’re not big, don’t put a year on the card, that way you can use that stock again if needed, rather than toss). Whilst cards are considered by some as ‘old-fashioned’, fewer and fewer people (businesses and individuals) send them, so if you do – then YOU stand out. However, printers need time to design and print, so action this soon also. Aim to get Christmas cards out by 1st December, so the card will get a full month on display and seen. Most are pulled down and thrown early January, so be remembered as long as possible. Whether you’re creating your own cards or going with store brought ones, just ensure sizing is universal for posting – especially if you’re planning on sending a few.
Thank You Gifts or Promotional Products
May I suggest this isn’t just clients that you send things to (if that is something you’re going to do) – consider also a hoped-for prospective client you’re trying to woo, plus also valued suppliers who have really looked after you. For some businesses, suppliers can make or break you, so don’t forget them.
This is another one that quite a few businesses will do (especially real estate agents) and the trick here is to get in early. You want to be the first one on the fridge or filing cabinet. Would you believe I got my first 2024 magnet calendar in late August and another early September!
Decide on Your Christmas Closure
As early as possible, decide on your Christmas closure, if there will be one, and be sure to alert all your team. Encourage them to pop it in their diary or phone. I believe for IR purposes you have to give substantial notice, and even build any forced leave into employment agreements. Essentially the more notice the better.
Book Your Holidays
Yourself, if you’re planning on getting away, then I really suggest this is already booked; in fact, it’s ideal to book Christmas holidays away the year before; I know myself, many popular caravan parks require you to put in the next week, before you finish your current stay. The plus of that is you’re booked in well in advance and never the temptation to just work through the break because you were not organised.
Cover Critical Staff
If your payroll officer cannot be lived without and is planning to be away for a while, get another plan in place now; for example, either them running payroll a period in advance, or someone else covering, including a professional bookkeeping business. Work out who will be away and what the plan is to cover that person if your business isn’t actually closing.
Does the Closure Need to be Covered?
At times, a business will want to continue operating (at least taking enquiries or managing those leads), so you may plan a few different options. One of your team may be happy to work the period and take their leave at another time when it’s not busy/high-priced and hard to book things in. You may engage a temp, answering service or simply choose to work skeleton hours yourself. Make a plan.
Messaging to Reflect What’s Happening
Whatever you select to do, ensure that your website, phone messages AND email responses reflect what is happening. It may be that you’re closed, not taking calls but emails will be answered once a day, first thing in the morning – so people know they can drop an email. Don’t forget also Google My Business; perhaps your trading hours need to be adjusted?
Putting This All Into Practice
May I recommend you start with a plan, with these action steps:
- List what you need to do/organise
- If you are doing gifts, start a list (and ideally keep digitally so you can reference it next year)
- Work out priorities and what needs to be done now
- Diarise/schedule in time/task or deadline to action
- If it’s a larger task – break it down into bite-size chunks; step one might simply be setting a date, then getting ideas, ringing around for availability, getting pricing etc.
- If necessary (and you’re larger) you may even allocate a person to manage this; but do ensure they touch base with you regularly so you’re in the loop.
- You might even find it handy to prep a list on your computer and save it for use/reminding yourself the next year. That way you won’t forget, for example to put a response on your emails, or leave booking the staff party too late and miss the optimum choices.
Whatever you’re going to do, start the planning now, these 10 weeks is sure to morph into substantially less, faster than the ‘blink of an eye’. As always, if you need any help with planning, organising, improving your business, systems, marketing or something else typically done by a business coach, just reach out to me; I’m here to help.
P.S. December or January are also great times to do your new year Business Planning & Goal Setting – something I find clients often start booking in about November to action either in December or January. Planning and strategising is critical in business and this time of year is a great time to action that. I have limited spots, so if you’re interested, it’s a case of ‘first in, best dressed’.