Let’s be honest: The holiday season is a caloric catastrophe. The average American’s Thanksgiving dinner is 4,500 calories by itself, never mind the snacks that surround it.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with joining family for a hearty meal now and again. But we all know how easy it is to go overboard on holiday junk food like egg nog, pies, and alcoholic beverages. And overindulgence can cause fatigue, depression, and chronic disease — all of which can cut into work performance.
So what can you do to keep employees’ spirits high during the holiday season? Good luck getting them to swear off holiday treats. Instead, try giving them a gift: healthy office snacks.
‘Tis the Season for Healthy Snacks
But rather than leave a stack of snacks out for the taking, try something different this year: Get everyone together for a bite. Not only is sharing food fun, but Cornell University researchers found that teams that eat together actually outperform those that don’t.
These are perfect ways to do it:
1. Host a buffet-style breakfast.
Is there any better feeling than walking into the office on a cold day to find doughnuts and coffee on your desk? What about walking in to find a whole platter of healthy snacks for the team to enjoy together?
For maximum effect, choose a dreary Monday for this snack-fueled celebration. Grab a bag of Counter Culture coffee (and be sure you have a bean grinder on hand), plus an assortment of cookies, dried fruit, and trail mixes. As a rule of thumb, select one snack for every three or four people on your team.
Before people start arriving, set out mugs, get the coffee brewing, and arrange a sampling of each snack on the tray. Bonus points if you can manage to make them look like a tree or other holiday shape.
2. Practice your sales pitch.
Every team has one of those people who could get Santa to buy back his own coal. Give everyone a chance to learn from his or her skills with an auction-style event, ideally with proceeds going to the team’s favorite charity.
The day before the event, ask each participant to pick a snack and agree on which organization will receive the funds raised. Set a per-person time limit, remind everyone to bring small bills, and give them the evening to develop their pitch. In the meantime, attach numbered notes to popsicle sticks for sake of bidding. For a “real” auction feel, ask a local auctioneer to donate his time.
3. Set up Santa’s workshop.
Who says adults are too old to play with their food? Because most holiday iconography is simple in shape, it’s easy to recreate using office snacks.
Dark Cocoa Nom Noms (our founder Gautam Gupta’s favorite) make great snowmen, for example, when covered with a little white icing. Pineapple rings stack to create a bell shape. And Michigan cherries are a must for any red-nosed reindeer.
If you can resist eating them, decorate the office with the team’s creations. If not, take photos and chow down!
4. Stuff stockings for one another.
Remember how excited you were when you walked downstairs on a snowy morning to find a fat stocking hanging above the fireplace? Recreate that holiday cheer for your team by distributing notes with different members’ names. Set out stockings and office snacks, and let them go to town.
Beware that this event works best with a family-sized group where everyone knows each other. Jane needs a general idea of John’s snack tastes in order to make his stocking feel personalized. At a larger company, consider breaking it up by departments or functional teams.
5. Make it a merry snack-mas.
Workplace holiday gifts are hard. It’s not appropriate to get your employees something extravagant, but you don’t want to come across as cheap, either. What’s the one reasonably priced gift everyone is sure to love? Food!
Before your team parts ways for the holidays, either put in a corporate gift order or handpick a snack or two for each person. Wrap them up, attach name tags (or do it white-elephant style), and assemble them under the tree.
Who says bad holiday habits have to get in the way of work? Give your team the family time they deserve, but keep them happy, healthy, and well-fed while at the office. Workers who snack together don’t forget it when they’re back together.