October 17, 2023
Title image with "[2024 UPDATE] Preparing Your Business for the Holidays + 5 Tips to Get Ahead" over a photo of a woman writing on a calendar

We are quickly approaching the 2023 holiday season, which has gotten us thinking about effectively preparing your business for the holidays for this year and next! 

Did the holidays sneak up on your company this year? Maybe you’re a new business owner or new to managing employees? Perhaps you want to rework your holiday policies? Either way, it’s not too late or too early to start planning for the 2024 holiday season. 

Below, we’re sharing: 

  • The federal holiday schedule to help you start planning ahead. 
  • Options and best practices for managing holidays as a private company.
  • Five tips for preparing your business for the holidays.

Read on and get your schedule in order now to keep your business running optimally and your employees happy. 

Dates of Federal Holidays in 2023 + 2024

The Federal Government provides 10 paid holidays every year to employees. As a private employer, you may choose to provide:

  • These holidays off with pay.
  • These holidays off without pay.
  • Holiday pay for working on these days.

However, you are not legally required to offer any of these options (unless your state laws say otherwise).

Below is a list of the remaining 2023 and upcoming 2024 federal holiday schedules.

Date Federal Holiday
Friday, November 10, 2023 Veterans Day (observed)
Thursday, November 23, 2023 Thanksgiving Day
Monday, December 25, 2023 Christmas Day
Monday, January 1, 2024 New Year’s Day
Monday, January 15, 2024 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Monday, February 19, 2024 Presidents’ Day / Washington’s Birthday
Monday, May 27, 2024 Memorial Day
Wednesday, June 19, 2024 Juneteenth
Thursday, July 4, 2024 Independence Day
Monday, September 2, 2024 Labor Day
Monday, October 14, 2024 Columbus Day / Indigenous Peoples Day
Thursday, November 11, 2024 Veterans Day
Thursday, November 28, 2024 Thanksgiving Day
Wednesday, December 25, 2024 Christmas Day

As you’ll see above, some holidays fall on a weekend day. In the case that a holiday falls on:

  • Sunday: The holiday is usually observed on the following Monday.
  • Saturday: The holiday is usually observed on the preceding Friday.

Employers often choose to follow this same system for scheduling ease.

Managing Holidays as a Private Company

Private businesses are usually not required to close on federal holidays, pay overtime or holiday pay to employees for working a holiday, or provide PTO if they do close on a holiday. It is essential to check with your Department of Labor for state and local laws, which may include different guidelines on holiday leave and pay requirements.

If you don’t already, you should have a holiday policy in place that defines all of the above. We’ll expand on that a bit more later.

Reports show that U.S. employees receive an average of 7.6 paid holidays per year, although 21% get only six. These typically include:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Additional Holidays

While few and far between, some employers choose to provide additional holidays for the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and Election Day—statistics show that only about 30% of workers get paid holidays for them. For each of these days, less than 20 states recognize any of them as holidays. So it’s not surprising that getting paid holidays for them is rare.

Due to their industries or the nature of their work, some companies must stay open on holidays. Forty-three percent of employers choose to pay non-exempt (i.e., hourly) employees a higher wage for working on national holidays, although only Massachusetts and Rhode Island mandate it. 

Another option is to provide staff with floating holidays, offered by 48% of companies. These allow workers to choose which holiday(s) they observe, which makes them a flexible and inclusive employee benefit.

5 Tips for Preparing Your Team for the Holidays

Establish a clear holiday vacation policy.

Every employer’s paid leave policies should include a holiday policy. Be sure to outline: 

  • Which days your offices will close.
  • What kind of system you’ll use for requesting time off around the holidays (e.g., first-come-first-served or seniority-based).
  • How far in advance employees need to request time off.
  • If employees will receive PTO or unpaid time on holiday closures.
  • If and how time worked on the holidays will be compensated.

Make this clear in the policy to set expectations and avoid conflicts when scheduling time off around the busy holidays.

Set your holiday schedule and staff accordingly.

Make your holiday schedules in advance. Will you have extended operating hours? Or will you be closing for a few days? Do you expect a rush? Answering all of these questions will help you decide how much staffing you’ll need.

Next, be sure to communicate those holiday schedules with your employees early. Define any expectations, discuss scheduling as a team, and ask them to submit PTO requests by a specific date so you can schedule staff accordingly.

Provide as much time off and flexibility as possible to help employees maintain work-life balance at this hectic time of year and avoid burnout. Some employees may request more weekdays off, while others might prefer the weekends. Make it a team effort to create optimal schedules for everyone. 

Another preventative measure: Overscheduling! If you can, add extra staff to the schedule to account for holiday rushes and employees calling out sick. This can be especially helpful for businesses in the retail and hospitality industries. At best, you’ll avoid chaos and overwhelm, and at worst, you’ll end up with a few extra team members to move things along.

Hire and train seasonal employees.

If you do plan on offering extended hours and realize you’ll need extra staff during the holiday rush, you might consider bringing on seasonal help. 

Hire and train seasonal employees early enough to ensure efficiency during the peak of the holiday season. You want them to help ease and smooth the busy time for the rest of your team and your customers. Without proper training, seasonal staffers could be more of a hindrance than a help.

Additionally, seasonal employees can increase liabilities like accidents and theft in your company. When you start the hiring process early enough, you’ll have ample time to screen applicants and train the temporary hires on workplace safety.

Develop your marketing strategy in advance.

Developing your strategy ahead of time will help you know what promotions you’re running and when. Of course, you should be using data from prior years to determine what worked best. Did that last holiday campaign drive traffic—either foot or digital?

Decide which channels you’ll use for your holiday campaigns. This will influence what tools you need and what kind of professionals, either internal or outsourced, will need to be on top of the campaigns to ensure they run smoothly. If something breaks or goes awry mid-promotion, who will be responsible for fixing it?

All of the above could also affect what kind of staffing you’ll need around each holiday and when to expect rushes in your business.

Plan team-building and morale-boosting activities.

Particularly during the winter months, morale can dip low while stress rises high. End-of-year requirements at work often clash with personal stressors like gift shopping and holiday events. Consider how you can help your team feel festive by:

  • Asking your staff what they want. It may not be a big office party, which often feels like another obligation on their already-busy schedules. Consider a fun and affordable gift exchange or another simple celebration instead.
  • Being inclusive by representing the different cultures and traditions of those on your team. Remember, not everyone celebrates Christmas! Make everyone feel welcome and celebrated.
  • Performing a charitable act as a team. Volunteer together or hold a donation event, such as a toy or coat drive or an Angel Tree (each participating employee chooses an underprivileged family to donate a gift to). 

Prepare Your Business for the Holidays

The key to maintaining a smoothly functioning workplace and content employees around the holidays is to plan ahead. Decide which holidays your company will observe and communicate clearly with your staff with a policy and annual planning. 

If you need help developing a holiday policy or managing employee holiday time, BlueLion’s experts will be happy to help. Contact us today at 603-818-4131 or info@bluelionllc.com to learn more!

The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.

This article was originally published in December 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.