AS THE TEMPERATURE DROPS and December nears, you can feel it in the air that the holiday season is upon us. Restaurants are a zoo this time of year and already you start to cringe at the thought of hearing those dreaded Christmas songs over and over again during your work shift. Just knowing that this time of year brings throngs of family get-togethers and staff holiday parties will either make you ecstatic at the thought of all those tips you’ll be earning…or make you want to rip your hair out.
Before the holiday rush starts, you need to be mentally and physically prepared so that you don’t become (as my boss says) “burnt toast” by the end of it all. Accepting the holidays for what they are is a big part of getting through it, but there are also a few things you can do to make this time less stressful.
Start shopping now.
If you’re giving gifts to loved ones this holiday season, do yourself a favor and start buying your presents as soon as humanly possibly. The last thing you need is to scramble to find someway to get your shopping done on your break in-between shifts. Just finding parking will take you at least half an hour! Not to mention the lineups to pay and having to push through crowds of people at the food court. You’ll end up feeling frustrated and rushed, which never helps when you have to get back to the hustle and bustle at work. Getting this done sooner will help clear your mind while on the job, allowing you to focus less on all the things you need to get done for the holidays.
Accept that you will be working longer hours.
Sometimes it’s difficult to transition into the holidays as a server. If you’re used to getting off work, for example, at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday nights and then all of a sudden you’re staying past closing time, it can be quite a shock to your system. Plans you make fall through because the restaurant is busier than usual, your feet and arms are even more sore from serving more tables, and you finish your shift feeling like you’ve got no free time for yourself. It can leave you emotionally discouraged and possibly make you bitter towards your manager for keeping you longer than usual, but you need to accept that that’s the restaurant business. The sooner you accept that you’ll be working longer hours, the less of a shock it will be when you do.
Get plenty of rest.
I know it’s the time of year where friends and family gather and you’re invited to parties every single weekend, but keep in mind that going to too many outings or staying out until the wee hours of the morning is going to end up catch up with you at work. Try to get the best of both worlds without compromising your sleep. Trust me, you’ll feel fresh and alert and keep you going strong rather than waking up with hangovers, wondering how you’re ever going to get through your double-shift.
Remember to stay calm.
We all know the holidays bring around many different types of guests. You’ll get customers who have never been to your restaurant before and will ask a million questions in the middle of the rush, you’ll have guests who are unaware of proper dining etiquette and leave you feeling like there is no hope for humanity, and you’ll serve tables that seem to have no clue about how the tipping process works. Just remember to do one thing….breathe. Go easy on your customers because they are just as stressed about the holidays as you are. Some people only go out to eat around the holidays in order to treat themselves or just going along with what their family and/or friends want, so it’s part of your job to make them feel comfortable. Smile and be patient. If you’re constantly getting frustrated, it’s going to wear you out and tear you down before you even realize what hit you. The calmer you are with “difficult” customers, the more relaxed you’ll feel overall.
The holidays bring along a huge assortment of mouth-watering feasts, tasty cocktails and decadent desserts. Try to stick to your healthy ways by remembering to get plenty of exercise and make sure you don’t overindulge in food or drink. It will help keep up your energy while serving tables.
If possible, celebrate the holidays on your days off.
Having to turn down holiday plans because of work can really take a toll on you. You feel like you’re missing out on family time and never get to see your close friends. While everyone is off of work for the holidays, we as servers are stuck serving. Our loved ones tell us “Just take the day off!”, but we all know it isn’t as simple as that – but, oh how we wish it were! Try to organize a dinner party or holiday breakfast on your days off so that you can partake in the festivities as well.
Rant about work with your coworkers after your shift.
There’s nothing like letting off a little steam with the people who understand your job the best. If you have some coworkers that you really get along with, go out for a drink after work and let it all out. Get mad, laugh, go on and on about how great or how bad your shift was and get it all out of your system. Holding everything inside will eventually cause you to explode – possibly taking it out on a customer or causing you to quit in mid-rush.
While everyone has time off for the holidays, you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off at work. So, after the holiday rush is done and before Valentine’s day rolls around, see if you can find some time to take a few days or even a week off for yourself. Think of it like a reward for working your butt off. Or, if your prefer, put aside some of that extra money you earned and treat yourself to something that will help you recharge your batteries. You honestly deserve it.