How Leaders Can Manage and Honor Celebrations

October 04, 2023

Nneka McGee

Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Image of woman carrying birthday cake

Remember when celebrations were as simple as posting a calendar with birthdays and special events? There are numerous celebration days to recognize, and leaders don’t want anyone to feel left out. Whether it’s an employee’s 40th birthday or National Donut Day (my personal favorite), there is always something to celebrate in the workplace.

How can leaders maximize acknowledging hard-working staff without accidentally overlooking anyone? Or worse, accidentally celebrating “National Cat Day” on “National Dog Day”?

The Great Organizers: Calendars

Calendars are a leader’s secret weapon. They may be traditional, but they’re tried and true. Get an oversized calendar and mark every conceivable celebration, birthday and obscure holiday. Post it in the break room next to the coffee machine. Trust me, nothing ensures participation like placing important information next to caffeine.

If the break room calendar could be a potential bust, consider empowering staff members who know how to make everyone feel special. Appoint a festivities facilitator who ensures everyone feels the love on their special days. Some schools form Sunshine Clubs, teams of staff who rally together to make celebrations meaningful.

Collective Celebrations

If there are 10 birthdays in October, why not have a monthly celebratory lunch instead of 10 separate cake feasts? One, it’s efficient, and two, think of the calories saved! If you are crunched for time, select one day each month and designate two months of birthdays to celebrate.

Birthdays aren’t the only celebrations leaders can recognize collectively on a monthly basis. Each month has several staff-related holidays to recognize. For example, October includes Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Principals Month, National Custodians Day, National Boss’ Day, National School Bus Safety Week and National First Responders Day, to name a few. One collective celebration during a staff meeting will ensure no one feels unrecognized.

Getting Social with Automation

There are apps that send automated birthday and other celebration wishes. Some social media platforms allow users to schedule posts in advance. Instead of trying to remember every recognition, you can customize your message, add optional images, set the date and forget about it.

Holiday Wheel of Celebrations

Too many obscure holidays to remember? Get a big wheel, list all the fun holidays and give it a spin every month. Whatever it lands on, the team celebrates! Amp up the fun by creating a theme focused on the selected day. Who doesn’t want to see their favorite leader wearing a crazy hat on “National Mad Hatter Day”? It’s fun and relieves stress. Plus, it’s a reminder that work doesn’t always have to be so serious.

Bonus: The Not-So-Secret Stash

Every leader should have an emergency box filled with generic cards and tiny gifts for those moments when someone whispers, “It’s Mark’s 15th teaching anniversary today!” and you had absolutely no idea. Don’t break the bank when building your stash. There are plenty of options for affordable card bundles and tasteful offerings for your staff – even just a thoughtful email can go a long way.

Leaders, it might seem like there’s a never-ending barrage of dates, days and delightful reasons to celebrate. By acknowledging our fantastic staff, we boost morale and create a happy, fun and energetic environment. Remember, a workplace that celebrates together, stays together. Or, at the very least, laugh together during one of those crazy, costumed celebration days!

Become the leader you aspire to be with leadership programs at American College of Education.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Nneka McGee
Nneka McGee, Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Dr. Nneka J. McGee is an innovative educator, researcher and advocate dedicated to creating and promoting pathways that provide students access and opportunities to navigate a future driven by automation and artificial intelligence. Prior to earning her Ed.D. at American College of Education, Nneka obtained a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a juris doctorate. As part of her doctoral studies, she researched the experiences of K-12 teachers implementing or planning to implement artificial intelligence in classroom learning environments. She is a sought-after speaker on artificial intelligence in education and has shared her work as a panelist or presenter at national, state, regional and local conferences. Nneka is a proud member of HAKing Innovation’s Board of Directors, a non-profit, social impact organization on a mission to create a community of technical talent by exposing students to STEM experiences. She also serves as an AI practitioner advisory board member for the Engage AI Institute and was selected as an EdSAFE AI Alliance Fellow.

Read all articles
Share this:
  • X
  • LinkedIn
Close Chat