Stay calm in the season of goodwill Tired, emotional, stressed out? It must be Christmas!The build-up to Christmas can be a stressful time in the office, and particularly for the one in ten people in the UK running their own business. There’s the onslaught of winter bugs affecting staffing levels, the rush to fulfil orders before the holidays begin, the challenge of organising the annual works party on a budget, the extra pressure of getting those festive cards and gifts out to customers – not forgetting that it all has to be done with a happy ‘Ho, ho, ho!’ Because this is the season of good cheer, after all.There’s nothing worse than being told you’ve got to ‘have fun’ or ‘get into the festive spirit’ when you’re tearing your hair out, so we’re not going to attempt it here. But there are a few hacks to an easier transition from fireworks to fairy lights, so please read on.1. Plan aheadChristmas comes but once a year (did anybody say ‘Thank goodness!’?) so you really do have plenty of time to plan for it. That’s easy to say, we know, but when you’re basically Head of Everything at your company, you’ve probably got lots of other things on your mind. There’s still time to check last posting dates though, to ensure you get your pre-Christmas orders out on time as well as those greetings cards.If you’re struggling to find a corporate gift that acts as an aide memoire throughout the year, consider a personalised calendar to keep your brand in front of your customers every day, and remember we can personalise your company Christmas cards too – send us your artwork or photographs, or choose from our range of designs.2. Get extra helpAnticipate those winter bugs that can lead to staff sick days; identify where you may need a few extra pairs of hands, and call your local recruitment agency or place an ad online. There are plenty of students looking for seasonal work at this time of year. You might also find that your current employees would welcome a little overtime to help with the cost of Christmas – you can but ask!3. Keep it simpleBe realistic about what you can achieve. What’s crucial for the business? What’s going to give staff a boost? What’s more of a nice-to-have that can be shelved if you don’t have time or resources? You’ve probably got lists coming out of your ears, but it’s worth sitting down and taking a good look at business needs and your own expectations at this time of year. Don’t be too hard on yourself.4. Do something differentInstead of automatically opting for the ‘port and stilton’ gift catalogue, why not use the season of goodwill as an opportunity to do something that will make your business stand out from the crowd? There are lots of inexpensive but inspiring ideas – many of which will also support small businesses just like yours, from commissioning a card design from a local artist or calligrapher to teaming up with a charity to create a gift that will also benefit those in need. Which brings us to our next point…5. DelegateIf you have employees, you can bet there’s someone on your team who’d be great at organising the Christmas party. Give them a budget and get them to book it all and keep everyone informed. You can also ask for the team’s thoughts on a corporate Christmas card and/or gift. Just remember to show you value everyone’s contribution but reserve the right to have the final say. You could find hidden talents in your team that you can nurture once the seasonal rush is over.6. OutsourceThis is the time of year when it pays to let someone else take the strain. By outsourcing some of your business support functions, you’ll free up time for doing what you do best. At Mail Boxes Etc. we can handle all your fulfilment – whether you need us to pick, pack and post orders or parts, print your pay slips and post them out or design, print and post your Christmas cards. You can rely on us for all Royal Mail services, and we can collect mail from your premises if that’s easier, franking and posting it on your behalf.Let us look after all your parcels too – we offer the biggest choice of couriers under one roof, and our expert team will advise on the best courier and class of service for every package. We can also support your export drive, and that includes helping with all the paperwork and customs requirements. When it comes to print, you don’t need to stand over the office photocopier – bring us your documents or send us a file and leave the rest to us. Our machines are designed to cope with everything from a single copy to a huge print run, and tight deadlines are no problem.And finally… look after yourselfRemember to take a little time out for yourself – perhaps a visit to your local spa after work, or a pre-Christmas meal with an old friend. Take a walk during your lunch break, just to get a change of scene and grab some fresh air. Try to eat healthily and regularly too – although we’ll leave the decisions about those seasonal drinks (how, when and how many) entirely up to you!