Personal assistant’s guide to Christmas

The work never stops for a personal assistant – but Christmas is an especially hectic time of year. Here’s our quick guide to getting through this busy period with a festive smile…

PAs have it tough, with bosses expecting a combination of mind-reader, psychiatrist, walking diary and business guru.

Business Colleagues Giving Each Other Gifts

And at Christmas the pressure really piles up as tasks that have been put off get pushed up the agenda so they can be finished before the end of the year. And on top of this there’re all the Christmas-related activities to organise.

We give you a helping hand to making it through the festive period.

Gifts and cards

While it’ll be the boss’s signature on the cards, it’ll be your job to not only source the gifts and cards, but also to help decide who gets what and how much to spend.

First up, you need to create two lists – who gets gifts and who gets a card. Unless you’re actively pushing the green angle of not wasting paper, send actual cards not e-cards. They offer a personal touch. Charity cards also show you care.

Gifts should be given – whether large or small – only to valuable clients or customers, service providers and employees. Have a scale from basic to luxury depending on the person. If you can’t give a gift to everyone, use a substitute like days off for employees or free drinks at the company party.

Once you’ve got your lists, use your knowledge of the businesses figures for the year to work out how much you can afford to splash out on gifts. Don’t go OTT – keep the gifts simple but do your research. For example, don’t send a bottle of wine to a teetotaller.

It’s also a nice touch to buy your boss a gift – nothing too flashy just a nice little something – especially if they’ve been good this year.

Businessman Carrying a Small Christmas Tree Through an Office
Travel and meetings

Getting around during the festive period can be a nightmare, especially if the weather turns.

It’s your responsibility to keep up to date on all trains, flights, roadworks and weather forecasts. And have back up plans in place in case your boss’s train home for the holidays is cancelled.

There will also probably be a number of last minute meetings and drinks to attend as people try and tick off a few tasks before the end of the year. Try and find out as far as possible in advance when and where these are. List them by priority and then start adding them to the diary. If you’ve got clashes, it’s always good to know early on so you can inform the host.

If you’re hosting meetings, make sure to put a Christmas spread on – mince pies instead of biscuits, some spiced apple juice and maybe even a cracker or two.

End of year task

There will be a number of end-of-year tasks to attend to, like:

• Making sure everyone has taken their holiday for the year
• Sorted cover for people out of the office
• Helping to organise bonuses
• Checking that pay has gone through
• Ordering any supplies you might need for the New Year
• Sorting expenses
• Making sure any big projects for the New Year are ready to go

Also, you might want to do a big office tidy – get everyone to clean their desk, empty the bins and sort out the kitchen areas.

Festive fun

Then there’s the fun part – well, fun if you’re not having to organise it all.

The Christmas parties should be fully organised by now but there’s always a few last minute hitches. Ring the venue the week and night before to check everything is ok – there’s not been a flood or something similar. Same with transport to and from the venue. Make sure the guest list is sorted and put a last call around reminding people when it is and to pick up tickets if they’ve not done so.

There’ll probably be a number of other festive activities to help organise such as:

• decorations
• Christmas baking
• helping raise money for charity
• Christmas jumper day


Posted by Sara Cano


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