When Cris Ganz longs for home during the holidays, she heads to her home office.
By Thanksgiving, her home office workspace is bedecked in ornaments, lights and a screen saver of falling snow. With holiday music playing on the stereo, Ganz enjoys the festive cheer of the season-even though she works alone at Gonzo Design, her Deerfield Beach, Florida, graphic design business. The festive touches help Ganz enliven her spirit and create her own jolly holiday.
Working alone is a far cry from her days as a marketing exec with Blockbuster Music. Ganz's cubicle would be bedecked in seasonal accouterments, and co-workers would walk past humming tunes and hearkening the coming of the holiday. The company would throw a blow-out that attracted hundreds of workers and their families. Today, Ganz's holiday shindig is a quiet celebration of the holidays with her husband and child in South Florida.
"I never relied on the [corporation] to create my holiday spirit," Ganz says. "I [still have] the Christmas spirit, even when I'm sitting in my office doing my day-to-day work."
People who work from home often have to create their own holiday cheer and festivities. Check out the following list for tips to get your holiday high spirits started.
Top Tips for Bringing Spirit Into the Home Office
Lighten up. From Christmas lights strung about to an electric Chanukah menorah to regalia for Kwanzaa, bring seasonal ornamentation and lights into the home office. You can even get your computer screen saver into the spirit. If space permits, gather holiday presents in the home office as a reminder of the season.
Sing to me. How about some holiday tunes? Buy or burn your own CD of seasonal or holiday tunes, drop it into the CD-ROM drive or portable stereo, and groove to the spirit.
Play Santa. Host a themed party-with you playing Santa. Invite peers, partners, clients and vendors. For admission, require a costume or an ethnic or cultural dish related to the seasons.
Host a homebased business block party. Certainly, others in your neighborhood work from home. Throw a bash celebrating the holidays-and your decisions to ditch corporate America and take your work home. You'll build stronger bonds-and find another excuse to party during working hours.
Mingle, Kris Kringle. Network at holiday parties thrown by your local chamber of commerce, your professional association, other networking groups or even your former house of employment-assuming you left on good terms. This helps fill your calendar, gets you out of the office and gives you dates to look forward to. You could even land some new assignments.
Give something back. Donate your time to a charity or shelter to this season, and consider extending your generosity year-round. Donations of your time may not be a write-off for your tax bill, but they may help assuage any guilt that came with success.
Go postal. Aside from sending cards to your closest customers, clients and allies, send cards to those you've met through the year. It widens your marketing circle and makes a lasting impression on new friends. Do the same for your holiday party. The more you invite, the bigger your reputation as the jolliest Santa in the homebased workplace.
Journalist and author Jeff Zbar has worked from home since the 1980s. He writes about home business, teleworking, marketing, communications and other SOHO issues.