The Holiday season is upon us. This is the time of year when we are confronted with surveys and news releases touting the latest trends in business gift giving and holiday personnel practices.

Is this the year to give a Christmas bonus? Should cocktails be served at the office party? Is this the year to stop giving the traditional turkey and risk being called one? Is it worthwhile to work on the day before Christmas?

How can you make sure that you are doing the right thing? Will you be intimidated into following the pack or will you hold your ground? The best advise is to do whatever you do with a personal touch. Let a sense of caring and personal appreciation be the common theme in your recognition of the holiday season.

You don’t need a statistical report on industry norms to help you decide how to celebrate the Christmas holiday at your business. You know your people best. You know what your business can afford and what your people will appreciate. Regardless of what the rest of the world might be doing, you alone should be able to judge what is appropriate for your business.

Too many employees have come to take holiday gift giving for granted over the years. A bonus check or a holiday turkey makes a better gift when it is accompanied by a hug or a handshake. Business gifts can too easily become impersonal and automatic. No longer a gift, but almost an obligation of the firm and an expectation of the recipient.

Don’t allow a situation to develop where the absence of the gift creates ill will instead of the presence of the gift creating good will. Give your time when you give your gift. The personal touch makes all the difference.

The traditional office party is often enjoyed too much by a few and not enough by the rest. When scheduled after normal working hours during an already busy time of year, it can become an intrusion on much needed personal time.

A real office party, one held right at the office is a novel alternative. How attractive a setting can an office or a small factory be for a Christmas party?

Choose a time when your employees can invite their families and your place will never be so clean or look so good. It turns out that most families don’t get to see where Mom and Dad work very often. They’re interested to see and the employees are proud to show. Add a Santa for the kids and you’ll have a great time!

Because the holiday season is busy time for most of us, time itself becomes a precious commodity and a valuable gift. If you’re the boss, it’s not too difficult to schedule several mornings or afternoons off during the month of December to complete your Christmas shopping crowd free.

It’s not so easy if you’re the employee working 9 to 5. Battling the crowds on a Thursday evening or Saturday afternoon is not an efficient use of time. But most businesses are already shorthanded at this time of year, it would seem impractical, if not impossible, to allow employees additional time off.

Well you can’t let them all go at once, but you can get by with letting each employee individually take a morning or afternoon off for holiday shopping or other personal business. A ‘shopping day’ tradition is always appreciated, even by those employees who would rather the extra pay than the extra time.

So no one feels badly about shirking their responsibilities, make it mandatory for each employee to take a half day off, with pay, during the month of December. To insure that the work flow won’t be interrupted and the burdens will be shared equally, let the employees establish their own schedules for time off.

An extra half day during the month of December is worth more to most people than the largest turkey they could ever receive. The ‘shopping day’ tradition costs the business nothing, but is greatly appreciated.

Because it’s your business, put a personal touch on whatever you do this holiday season.