By Anne Rackow

At WhyWhisper, we’re all about making a difference and, as much as possible, having fun in the process! Plus, it’s an added bonus when we can build impact into our existing routines and plans.

For many, the holidays are filled with parties and gift giving. So, we did a little research to identify ways that you can do these things while also making a difference this season. Are you in charge of planning the office holiday party? Would you like to do something a little different from previous years? Whether you are planning a party for the office or for family and friends, here are some tips for making an impact:

Invite a local charity or non-profit to attend and present at your party

WhyWhisper Blog Holiday Donations

Year-end giving is huge for a number of reasons: Many companies want to capitalize on tax breaks for charitable giving before the year comes to a close, and the holiday season also serves as inspiration for people to give back to their communities. If you or your employees are still searching for causes and organizations to support, inviting a local charity to attend and present at your holiday party could be a win-win for everyone. Many non-profit organizations, like Work of Women and Project Fierce Chicago, regularly co-host parties with volunteers as a means to spread awareness and raise money. You can still keep it festive by decorating, serving food, and playing holiday games.

Drink responsibly

When it comes to drinking alcohol, there are a few ways that you can do it responsibly. First, make sure everyone travels home from the holiday party safely. You can hire a shuttle to take people home at the end of the night, contact a ride share company like Uber to get a discount code for the evening, or if you are having the party in a location with lodging accommodations and have a big party budget, spring for a room for each employee. Second, be mindful of employees who may not drink alcohol due to personal, health, or religious reasons. While it seems like a big “thank you” to your staff to have an unlimited open bar for your party, it may not be appreciated equally by all staff, so be sure to provide an alternate option that can accommodate everyone. Finally, as noted in a previous post, making and packaging alcoholic beverages can be a major sustainability issue.  Consider stocking your bar from environmentally-friendly companies like Drink More Good and KOVAL Distillery who source organic ingredients from local farms and New Belgium Brewing who is committed to monitoring and reducing their impact on the environment as well as giving back to the community. 

Exchange gifts that make a difference

WhyWhisper Blog Holiday Shopping

Do your employees exchange gifts around the office? Maybe play a good old-fashioned game of white elephant? If so, set guidelines that gifts should be environmentally friendly or contribute to a cause in some way. You can also use these tips when shopping for your family and friends, and encourage employees to do the same:

  • Support local businesses and artisans: Shopping locally is good for the environment, helps to create jobs in your community, and often puts money into the pockets of families rather than corporations. Take a walk in your neighborhood to see if you can find what you are looking for from a small business or family-owned shop. If you don’t find what you’re looking for locally, check out Etsy for unique goods made by independent creatives before you hit the big corporate retailers.
  • Shop from ethical retailers: If you don’t have time to do on-foot shopping in your community, look for web-based companies that source their goods responsibly, donate items or profits from each purchase, are environmentally friendly, or give back to the community in some way. There are many companies out there that are making a difference and selling unique or handmade, high quality products! To get you started, we have included a few online resources that have extensive suggestions of where to shop, highlight a few companies with more detail, or allow you to search and shop by ethical criteria or cause. If you are going to shop at a “one-stop-shop” like a major department store, pick Target this year and let them know you support their decision to support the LGBTQ community and counter those who have chosen to boycott.
  • Encourage minimalism: Buy products with minimal and eco-friendly packaging and help others to reduce the amount of stuff they might accumulate and/or ultimately throw away by giving an experience not a gift. Consider giving tickets to a concert or play or a gift certificate for a local restaurant instead of a physical item.
  • Make an honorary donation: Consider skipping gifts all together and focus on spreading love and supporting those in need. Make an honorary donation to causes that your colleagues or loved ones care about. You can even get a fair trade, hand-crafted, card to “wrap” the proof of donation in so they still have something to open on the holiday.  

And remember, America is a big, beautiful, and diverse country, and hopefully so is your workplace. Be mindful of the religious views and traditions of all of your employees and colleagues. Make sure everyone has the appropriate days off to celebrate and use a variety of phrases, decorations, and music to bring cheer and well wishes to all.

Do you have suggestions on other holiday traditions that make an impact? We would love to hear about them!