A merry FIFO Christmas: 7 tips for surviving the festive season on site
Being away from your family and friends at Christmas time can be tough. Unfortunately, it’s something many people working in the mining industry experience.
To help make things easier, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you get through the festive season if you are working.
1. Make an effort with the surprises
While Christmas is not meant to be about the presents, if you are the one going away, leave a gift at home for your partner. Even better, leave it with someone who can give it to them on Christmas Day for you, as a complete surprise.
If you have children, arrange for them to also give your partner something on the day. And, of course, have something under the tree for them from you.
Leaving a small gift for your family to open each day you are away over the festive season, in the form of an advent calendar, can be a great way to stay connected. The gifts can include tickets, activities and ideas for fun things to do as a family when you are on R&R.
2. Maybe give social media a miss
Christmas posts on social media can be disheartening for people. While it’s a great way to see what your family are up to, it can also highlight what you are missing out on. Maybe try turning off notifications for the day, or only check in once you have spoken or Skyped with your loved ones. Post a Merry Christmas message on Christmas Eve, and then switch off for the next 24 hours.
3. Get that all-important Skype or FaceTime call in nice and early
Call or Skype first thing in the morning. Yes, you may wake your kids but, hey, it’s Christmas! With modern technology it is so much easier to connect on the day. Gone are the times when employees had to line up for one of only three payphones in the camp. While it isn’t always possible for everyone, arrange a time to connect on FaceTime or Skype during Christmas Day – maybe when the kids are opening gifts.
4. Plan for your own celebrations when you’re home
Arrange to do something fun and different when you are on R&R after Christmas Day – that way you all have something to look forward to celebrating. For some it could be a day at the beach, for others a gold-class movie day. Whatever you do, turning it into an event everyone is excited about is a great way to celebrate the season.
You could also celebrate early with your family or partner. Have a festive lunch or dinner before the day. If you have kids, exchange a gift before you go back to site.
5. Find ways to be festive at work
Rather than focusing on what you are missing by not being at home, consider ways you can enjoy the festivities at work.
I’ve yet to hear of a site that doesn’t have a special dinner organised for Christmas Day. While some may not have a set serving time, arrange with your crew or team to all get together for dinner.
Organise a secret Santa among the people who are working. It can be a great way for your team to feel a little festive. Buying $2 Santa hats for everyone to wear (safety rules permitting) is another option. I have a great memory of our processing team having Santa hats stretched over hard hats.
6. Make things on site feel festive
Take something with you to site that reminds you of Christmas. Gingerbread, shortbread, chocolate-coated almonds: whatever your usual Christmas indulgence is, having some on site is one way to feel like you’re not missing out. Take enough to share with your colleagues; it’s the season for giving, after all.
Take decorations to site with you. A few decorations around the place will bring a bit of festive cheer to you and your colleagues working on Christmas.
7. Remember you’re all in it together
Remember that everyone on site is also away from their loved ones. I know from my FIFO experience it’s not easy for anyone, so check in on your teammates, share your treats, and have a Merry Christmas wherever you are, and with whomever you are near.