How to Enjoy Working Christmas Day

Malcolm Boyden from BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester invited me to talk about how to cope with having to work on Christmas Day.


According to the ONS 3.3% of the UK working population have to work on Christmas Day: 140,000 doctors, nurses and other medical staff, over 40,000 emergency services staff, thousands of hospitality employees, and may farmers, zoo-keepers, pilots, traffic officers and even funeral directors have to turn up for work, while the rest of us indulge in eating more food than our stomachs can hold.


Malcolm wanted to ask me for my top tips on how to manage the potential anxiety in the lead up to the Christmas shift. We also discussed imaginative ways you can maintain the Christmas spirit. Here are some of the highlights, but if you want to listen back, click the link and jump to 1:09 into the programme.



This is quite straight forward: some organisations pay staff extra to turn up for work. If money is your main motivator then bingo! You win. If you’re in hospitality you might find that customers are more generous with tips at this time of the year.


Intrinsic Motivation

Some people put other people’s needs before their own. Caring, cooking, hosting, or keeping other people safe can make you feel better about yourself. My early career was working in the NHS and we’d all have to be very diplomatic about who worked when, and often found ourselves forfeiting New Year’s Eve to spend Christmas with the family. Focusing on this aspect of your job will help you get through the 24 hours. ps. Don’t forget to make sure your needs are also being met – could you set up video calls with friends and family on the day, or sing carols together on the phone.



When I backpacked around the world, (about a hundred years ago), I worked in bars at Christmas and absolutely loved the vibes (and extra tips). If your home or family life is like many people’s, you’ll be glad about not having to share the day with people you’d rather not spend it with. Equally, ask yourself how to make your working environment more fun  – wearing themed hats or jumpers, swapping Secret Santa gifts, or playing the radio to create a sense of occasion, a sense of community.


Move Your Christmas Day

If you can’t be with your favourite people on Christmas Day, find a date when you can all congregate together and make that day your official Christmas Day. My blended family unit can’t always be together on the 25th Dec. We block a date in the diary either before or afterwards, and gather for food, pull a few crackers, open gifts, play a few games and eat too much. The value for us is being together, regardless of what the outside world is doing.


Dreading it!

Maybe you dread Christmas day. The focus on the importance of ‘family’ can trigger negative emotions for many of us. In this case, you’re probably the kind of person all your colleagues love even more at this time of the year, as you’re willing to cover for them. I try to remind my coaching clients who feel this way that it’s perfectly natural to become resentful of people who have the big Disney-esque gatherings. It’s okay to not feel ‘jolly’ during this time – your vitamin D is at it’s annual low and your missing out on the oxytocin that makes us feel loved and needed.  Just make sure you have planned ahead and are able to treat yourself in lots of ways – line up a good Netflix series and have your favourite food in stock.



Would you consider doing something completely different during the festive period? I’ve previously volunteered for Crisis. It was a pre-Christmas shift, sorting out the hundreds of bags of clothes and winter coats that had been donated. My friend Lucy Goodwill started Kindness Bags – a phenomenal campaign to “help vulnerable women living on the streets”. It was a memorable experience, and a really useful thing to have done. If you have time to spare, consider how else you could spend your time to help someone else’s Christmas be more cheerful. (You’ll feel really good about yourself too, so that’s an added bonus).

This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it’s given you some useful things to think about. If you know anyone working over the Christmas period, why not forward this post to them.


Especially for You

In addition, if there’s something about your work or family life that is getting to you at the moment, you can download my FREE Lifestyle Review guide, with some very useful coaching questions, or sign up to my FREE 5-day challenge Tame Your Inner Critic, that goes live frequently.


However, and with whomever, you are spending this Christmas, I really hope it goes smoothly, and without drama.

Celestial Greetings!


p.s. You can hear the full interview here BBC Radio Interview with Malcolm Boyden & Jess Baker – Working on Christmas Day (go to 1:09 into the programme).

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