Helping your holiday ham taste its best!
Sometimes foods with distinct flavors need counterpoints to bring out the best taste combinations. Whether it’s strong coffee in barbecue sauce, a pinch of hot pepper in Mexican cocoa, or a splash of balsamic vinegar on a bowl of freshly sliced strawberries, these culinary marriages will delight your taste buds!
Such is the case with ham. . . salty, smoky, and succulent it pairs wonderfully with sour fruit (pineapple, orange, cranberries, currants, rhubarb), sweet elements (brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, even cola!) and spices (cloves, mustard, allspice, ginger, cinnamon).
Whether you are cooking an Easter Ham, a Christmas Ham or just a special ham meal, your guests will enjoy your ham with a new twist, using one of these tasty glazes. Not only will it give your ham a delicious flavor, the glaze keeps it moist and juicy while it bakes. Which one will you try first?
5 Holiday Ham Glaze Ideas
2. The perfect blend of sweet and spicy – and so easy to make! This great recipe for Pomegranate Jalapeno Glazed Ham comes from chef Akasha Richmond of restaurant Akasha in L.A., care of Food & Wine Magazine.
Let us know what’s your favorite and if we missed one you think should be on the list! Contact us at info@gThankYou.com.
First Time Cooking Ham?
If you are new to cooking ham, be sure to download our FREE “Holiday Ham” Guide. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to cook a juicy and golden browned ham for your meal centerpiece!
You’ll learn how to choose ham, different methods of cooking and professional tips to ensure your ham centerpiece is juicy and delicious.
While some may pick the official Employee Appreciation Day to celebrate their employees’ contributions, really any day is the perfect day to thank employees for their hard work and dedication to your business! (more…)Get your calendar out and start scheduling some fun – happiness will follow! March is the ideal month to build workplace happiness – winter is dragging on and for most of us, spring seems a long way off. Luckily this month is FULL of opportunities to share workplace appreciation and inspire some easy fun.Hopefully you have already downloaded our free Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation Calendar for 2019 so these celebrations may already be on your radar. If not, click the link above and let’s get started!
We spend more of our waking hours with co-workers than we do with our significant others, so take advantage of Valentine’s Day and celebrate colleagues! If you focus on gratitude and appreciation, it’s perfectly appropriate and thoughtful to do.
Valentine’s Day in the workplace should be about celebrating workplace colleagues and a culture of kindness and compassion. Steer clear of romance and relationships. The opportunity is to communicate value for great working relationships and a culture supportive of compassion and camaraderie.
Acts of kindness are one of the most powerful ways we have to connect with others.
February is the perfect month to share workplace kindness – with Random Acts of Kindness Day (17th) and Week (February 17th though the 22nd), and Valentine’s Day! Take advantage of these dates and inspire kindness in your workplace.
Planting seeds of kindness yields improved moods and productivity. Better yet, it’s contagious. Share a little kindness and see how it ripples through your office.
Easy Ways to Share Workplace Kindness
Here are some fun and easy strategies you can try out in February (or anytime):
- Create a kindness wall
Add some prompts and provide lots of colorful post-it notes. Encourage everyone to participate. Take pictures and share the workplace love socially – #RAKDay #MakeKindnessTheNorm #KindnessMatters
- Spread messages of kindness
Blanket the workplace with fun posters, notes, emails, etc. of appreciation and encouragement. Delight colleagues with little gifts of appreciation.
- Help colleagues learn something new about each other
Be creative! Have work groups select “get to know you questions” and answer out-loud. Send departments that don’t work together to a lunch together and provide thought provoking questions on the table.
- Share a thoughtful Candy or Ice Cream Gift Certificate
A homemade treat is heartwarming but impractical with a large organization. Keep it easy and affordable with a $5 gThankYou Gift Certificate for Candy or Ice Cream and a note of thanks!
- Plan a week of workplace kindness activities
Plan an entire week to celebrate and spread kindness in the workplace. Here’s your guide to keeping it easy, fun and focused on kindness: “7 Days of Workplace Kindness”
Kindness is Contagious – Help Spread It Year-Round
As Emilia Earhart once said, “No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another.”
Make 2019 the year to build your kinder and happier workplace. Begin with these inspiring and helpful resources:
- Download Your “Day-to-Day Kindness Calendar”
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation provides many free resources for sharing and inspiring kindness including this calendar of daily ideas. We love their mission and inspiration to helping us building a kinder world.
- Download “Transforming Your Workplace with Gratitude”
Kindness flourishes in an environment of gratitude. Learn how to nurture a workplace culture of gratitude, appreciation and kindness with this popular free eBook.
- Download and share gThankYou’s “2019 Employee Celebration Calendar”
This popular resource is full of ideas and the research behind building a kinder, happier and more loyal workplace all year-long.
Simple Acts of Kindness to Start
LiveLoveWork.com has provided a prompt to boost kindness at work for each week of the year!
Most of these ideas are really easy to do but could really have an impact on a co-worker’s day (and your day too!). Here are some of our favorites –we kept their original numbers from the list of 52:
- Hold the door open for the person behind you. (#9)
- Make a mental list of all the things you enjoy about your work. (#10)
- Be a cheerleader for someone else’s idea or project. (#18)
- Let go of a grudge. (#24)
- Give someone the benefit of the doubt. (#31)
- Share an uplifting blog post. (Like this one from gThankYou…) (#36)
- Bring in books you loved and pass them on. (#38)
- Start and end meetings on time. (#43)
- Pass on coupons you don’t need. (#47)
- Create a custom playlist for a co-worker. (#50)
- Be responsible for the energy you bring to your workplace. (#52)
Here’s another list we love for posting in the workplace. This acrostic contains 20 tips from O.C. Tanner about random acts of kindness in the workplace. It underscores how being kind can be simple, but isn’t always our default setting, especially in the workplace.
Here’s just a teaser with the word “random”:
R: Recognize when someone is having a bad day; find out what you can do to help.
A: Ask a coworker a thoughtful question, then listen (really listen!) to the response.
N: Nix gossip when you hear it.
D: Drop off a delicious snack at someone’s desk.
O: Offer to help with a task a coworker doesn’t enjoy.
M: Make time to connect with a former colleague.
Check out the rest of their acrostic (acts of kindness) for more great ideas.
Mini-Case Study: “Send a Snuggle Day” for Acts of Kindness Week
Our favorite idea for sharing workplace kindness is from the Monroe County Humane Association in Indiana. We love this idea so much it’s in our 2019 Employee Celebration Calendar!
Monroe County Humane Association in Indiana raises money through its “Send a Snuggle Day” for Random Acts of Kindness Week. For the annual event, which began in 2014, the public can donate money to send “animal ambassadors” to spread a little cheer and kindness to a person or team of their choosing.
The snuggly emissaries have included dogs, kittens, rabbits, goats, a miniature horse, and an albino snake. (No one ever sends the snake, MCHA executive director Rebecca Warren notes.) Volunteers accompany the animals into banks, schools, and other workplaces.
Warren told the Indiana Daily Student that when Send a Snuggle visits a workplace, it’s usually not just one person who reaps the benefits.
“It becomes an entire facility response. Everyone is so excited when they see the animal. Everyone’s taking pictures and getting down on the floor. At least three people cry,” Warren said. “Send a Snuggle is the best day of the year to do my job. It’s wonderful to see people get so excited and emotional about it.”
We’d love to hear your workplace kindness stories. Share them with us and we will share them on social media and highlight them in our blog!
We hope your new year is off to a great start and wish you and your colleagues a year that is full of hope, happiness and kindness.
The gThankYou! TeamWith an acceptance rate under 7% and ACT scores of admitted students hovering around 32-35, the likelihood of most people having access to an Ivy League education in Yale’s hallowed halls are slim. But we can all benefit from the fascinating and completely practical information that is shared in one of that revered educational institution’s most popular courses, “Psychology and the Good Life.”Psychology Professor Laurie Santos specializes in evolution and animal cognition, but after living among undergrads when she became head of Yale’s Silliman College (think the Houses of Hogwarts), she realized just how stressed out and depressed they were. Reviewing mental health surveys from the National College Health Assessment she learned that the issues Yale students were having were similar to those of college students across the country. Students report already high and increasing rates of anxiety, depression and hopelessness.Santos set out to design a course to convey not just the science behind positive psychology research but how putting those concepts into practice could have a profound impact on students’ happiness and quality of life. Santos did not anticipate the the overwhelming interest in her course from students (1 in 4 students at Yale have taken her class), nor did she predict that it would become a sensation with articles in the New York Times, O Magazine, national television appearances and international media coverage.
These same principles can help employees be happier too!Lucky for us all, Santos shared the main takeaways from her course in a Aspen Ideas Festival lecture last June and that lecture is available as a iTunes podcast from the Aspen Institute as well transcribed text as a pdf).We highly recommend setting aside time to take in her 60 minute lecture. It is time well spent. In fact, you might want to listen (or watch) with colleagues, friends or family members. Don’t be intimidated by Santos’ prestigious academic pedigree. She presents the science in an accessible way, lays out her points in a manner that is easy to digest and offers practical strategies that you can then translate into your workplace efforts. Santos suggests that we all combat stress, depression and anxiety and be more proactive in our pursuit of happiness:“…I think we need to think seriously the idea that something is something is wrong, and we need to something about it. The cool thing is that we have a way out. We have hope. The science teaches us what we need to do. We just have to do it.”
A few of the happiness building basics
- Getting enough sleep – most college and high school students report only getting 4 – 5 hours of sleep. Regardless of your age your brain and body need more sleep than that and sleep has a big impact on mood.
- Your genes don’t predict your capacity for happiness – while it may be true that you inherit some of your “glass is half full or half empty” attitude from your family, you have a capacity of about 40% to take control of your own behavior.
- Get 30 minutes of cardio a day – even just a half hour of mild cardio every day can have the impact of a Zoloft prescription if you’re depressed.
- Savor the moment – really experience things and be present in the moment.
- Connecting with others will make you happier – even if you think you prefer solitude. A study showed that Chicago commuters felt happier after talking to strangers and finding common ground, even when they thought they would rather be alone and quiet.
How the course syllabus can translate into the workplace
- Give the gift of time off (even for just an hour) – granting her students the unexpected luxury of an hour of time with instructions to do something fun, creative, interesting that wasn’t work had a profound impact, some students said that hour of time will be one of their strongest memories of their Yale experience.
- Distribute gift cards or small amounts of cash to employees with the instruction that they must give it to another person. A research study showed that the good feelings for the giver of this type of generosity were long lasting and that the dollar amount didn’t matter.
- Find ways to encourage employees to learn how-to and to practice meditation – consider bringing in a teacher to educate staff on the basics of mindfulness and/or provide guided meditation classes as part of your fitness program.
Writing can help
Santos shares these things you can do at both home and work that can increase happiness:
- Write a gratitude list
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Write thank you notes
Do the workSantos likens the practices she outlines in the course to exercise. Simply learning about the effects of squats on your muscles doesn’t mean you will see increased strength in your legs and core – you need to get into the gym and do some squats. She sums it up this way:“You can hear all these studies and you can get an A in this class, but unless you put this stuff into practice, it’s not gonna help. You have to do the work.”
Learn like a Yalie, for freeIf you want a more immersive experience than the podcast or video, you can also take a free online version of the class through Coursera. The Science of Well Being from Dr. Santos is one of Coursera’s most popular courses with more than 135,000 students from 168 countries across the globe participating in this scaled-down version of her Yale course.Can’t commit to the class but could benefit from an overview? A writer at The Cut took the course and shared this cheat sheet to happiness.
Happiness…a growing field of academic studyYale isn’t the only academic institution that is taking a serious look at happiness. UC Berkeley was the first to offer a massive open online course (MOOC) on positive psychology. The Science of Happiness course teaches science-based principles and practices for a happy, meaningful life. Stanford is home to The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). Their must-read list on compassion and happiness is a wonderful resource on this topic.
We can help you put the science into tangible workplace initiativesgThankYou has incorporated positive psychology research into content like Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude, our guide to gratitude at work, and blog posts. We’ve taken the time to translate the science into practical best practices that can directly help employees be happier.Don’t delay. Download your free copy and share with colleagues.
We all know that New Year’s resolutions are often hard to keep. But if one of your workplace goals was to get a better handle on employee engagement planning in 2019, that resolution is now easier to keep with the use of gThankYou’s 2019 Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation Calendar!
If you are familiar with our annual calendar chock full of engagement and appreciation ideas, then you’ve probably already done the free download because you know what a valuable (and fun) tool it is.
Not familiar with it? Start by filling out the short online form and you’ll have a FREE, indispensable and inspiring guide at your fingertips. Here’s what to expect for each month in addition to meaningful, compelling (yet easy-to-read) articles on an array of topics meant to inspire your planning and workplace activities:
- Key stats (in case you still need to prove to leadership how critical employee engagement and appreciation is)
- Ready-to-Go Celebration examples (so even if you think you aren’t creative you’ll have turn-key approaches to create more fun in the workplace)
- Mini-case studies (learn what’s worked for other organizations)
- Plenty of graphics (which make this ebook feel like fun, not work)
Make Employee Engagement Planning a Focus in 2019
We challenge you to flip through our free Calendar and if you’re new to employee engagement, or stuck in rut – try to implement one new idea each month! For example National Pie Day is coming up on 1/23 (not to be confused with PI day which is on 3/14) and Fun at Work Day is later this month on 1/28. Or take the suggestion from the information on the April page which suggests starting “Thank you note Thursdays.” (We’ve got some thank you note pointers if you could use help.)
Not every company has a large budget for engagement and recognition strategies, but you’ll get ideas for initiatives that are no-cost and low-cost. Also, all too often, money is poured into recognition programs that aren’t meaningful to employees or fall short on genuine appreciation:
A study by Bersin & Associates found that 87 percent of the $26 billion spent annually on employee recognition goes toward ineffective tenured-based recognition such as pins and awards dinners.
So, while the impetuous behind those types of programs might be sincere and well-meaning, the ROI isn’t there from both a financial standpoint and the impact on employees. Employee recognition is about so much more than end-of-the year dinners and employee of-the-month plaques. The most successful businesses know the importance of sharing sincere appreciation and celebrating employee day-in and day-out.
We’ll Help You Keep Your Resolution
Make 2019 the year you energize your organization with a coordinated employee recognition program that builds a fun, happy, engaged and productive workplace! Download your free “Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar” today. Share it with colleagues and start your inspired thinking today.
It’s here!! Our very popular Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation Calendar is newly updated and back for 2019!Users have told us they love the monthly and daily idea format and the updated content on how to build a loyal, happy workplace culture through engagement and gratitude. It’s our holiday gift to anyone who wants to build a better workplace.
New Employee Appreciation Calendar + New Year = New Opportunities
Our annual employee celebration calendar is full of creative engagement concepts and festive year-round celebrations. It’s a wonderful resource for supporting employee engagement and recognition planning for the new year. Whether you have big budgets or need no or low-cost ideas, we have content and suggestions for you.
Every year we strive to update our calendar with the latest research and thinking about building great workplace cultures. You’ll find mini-case studies, research, and how-to’s in addition to daily and monthly celebration ideas.
Our intent is to provide a fun resource that helps workplace leaders:
- Stay current in the space of employee engagement and recognition
- Provide actionable gratitude-based engagement and celebration how-to’s for busy HR personnel
- Share new ways to engage and celebrate employees
- Spark creative thinking for building the workplace culture you want
Why Is Employee Engagement and Appreciation So Important?
A quick scroll through the gThankYou blog will reveal a wide variety posts about appreciating and engaging employees. We talk about it all the time, because it’s key to the success of any business. No surprise, it seems like every week there are articles describing how vital the need for engagement and gratitude in the workplace is.A Huffington Post article outlines 10 reasons why engagement is key and it’s hard to argue with the writer’s points and the research behind them.
We won’t go into all ten reasons, but here are just a few:1. Profits increaseA Gallup study shows that companies with engaged employees have higher earnings.2. Retention rates improveEngaged employees have lower turnover than disengaged employees.3. Workplace happiness is boostedRecognition means a lot, in fact only 12 percent of employees leave a job just for a bigger check.4. Productivity risesEngaged employees outperform their less engaged peers by up to 202 percent.5. Recruitment ratesEmployees who are engaged and happy are more likely to refer friends for job openings.As the article’s writer (and CEO of TalentCulture) Meghan M. Biro put it:…employee engagement is perhaps the most critical ingredient to achieving your company’s top goals. It’s in your best interest to invest in your employees because they’ll become invested in your company’s success—and that’s a sure way to boost your company’s bottom line.
Not Sure Where to Start?
Just take a few minutes to look over the calendar! We bet that even if you are thinking you don’t have the time, budget or staff power to focus on employee engagement you’ll find something that will resonate with you. You don’t need much of a budget to make employees feel valued and important to the business.Make it a (totally do-able) New Year’s Resolution to take just one idea from the 2019 Calendar and implement it. Let us know how it goes.Use our how-to calendar to make your own working calendar of employee and even customer events. Learn more with our post “Build Your Own 2019 Employee Engagement Calendar”.
Free Resource: Your Day-to-Day Employee Engagement Calendar
Looking for easy ways to thank employees year-round? Check out our 2022 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar! This one-of-a-kind resource gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Download yours today, absolutely free.
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author
Hanukka just ended and it’s not long until employees start taking off for the Christmas holiday and business winds down for the year.
There’s still time to choose a thoughtful holiday gift that will show employees how much you appreciate them.
Last-Minute Gift Ideas Employees Will Love
Here are five affordable employee gift ideas that are convenient enough to arrange at the last minute. Don’t forget to share your gifts with gratitude – the most meaningful gift of appreciation is free!
- A group gift.
If your time is short, consider a group outing, an upgrade to the break room, or a holiday luncheon or party (if you’re not already planning one).
- Productivity apps or tools.
Digital apps can be delivered instantly, with no physical orders or trips to the store. Poll your employees on which app will save them time or make them even better at their jobs.
No longer just for magazines, subscriptions exist nowadays for everything from streaming entertainment to socks. Subscriptions can be ordered easily online.
- Gift certificates for turkey or ham.
The workplace gift of a turkey or ham is a beloved tradition of gratitude that stretches back decades. Gift certificates eliminate the logistical difficulties of storing and distributing frozen turkeys or hams, and they give your employees the flexibility to choose the sizes and preparations they want.
- Holiday dessert.
A homemade treat is heartwarming but impractical with a large organization. Keep it easy and affordable with gThankYou Gift Certificates for pie and ice cream.
Today is #GivingTuesday. On this day of giving back, consider how sharing in the joys of charity and volunteerism at work engages employees. Gratitude-focused celebrations like #GivingTuesday help build a year-round spirit of workplace gratitude.
The gratitude we share over the holiday season isn’t a once-a-year diversion. Let it inspire an everyday culture of workplace gratitude in your company!
Gratitude “the high-octane fuel” of relationships, says psychology professor and eminent gratitude researcher Robert Emmons in a Fast Company article this week.
It’s vital to working relationships in particular.
Studies show that gratitude acts as a disinfectant against the “exploitation, complaint, entitlement, gossip and negativity” that plague companies with toxic workplace culture, according to Emmons. Gratitude sweeps away the toxicity and replaces it with positivity — it motivates employees, encourages loyalty, relieves stress and makes us all healthier and kinder.
“Gratitude is the ultimate performance-enhancing substance at work,” Emmons tells Fast Company. “Gratitude heals, energizes and transforms lives in a myriad of ways consistent with the notion that virtue is both its own reward and produces other rewards.”
Want a great workplace culture? The secret is gratitude.
Be inspired by the following quotes for your workplace celebration of #GivingTuesday and download your free eBook below on how to build a lasting workplace culture of gratitude.
The Benefits of Workplace Celebrations
Whether it’s for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or the winter holidays, celebrations at work foster team unity, spark creativity, and relieve stress. Workplace parties are seen as an expression of gratitude, which boosts employee engagement and loyalty.
Halloween checks all the boxes for a successful workplace celebration; it’s participatory by nature, creative, and the focus is on fun. We all love Halloween!
By mid-October, the supermarket checkout aisle is full of magazine covers, each boasting a glorious, burnished brown Thanksgiving turkey — so juicy and tempting, you can almost smell the savory aroma while you dig out your debit card.
And indeed, it’s not too soon to start thinking about stuffing (should it have bacon this year? Probably!), your other side dishes — and of course, the holiday centerpiece: a beautifully roasted turkey.
Before you choose a bird, check out these five tips to keep in mind as you plan your holiday meal, whether you’re serving 25 assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins or a simple Thanksgiving turkey feast for two.
1. Know What You’re Getting: Master This Basic Turkey Terminology
Turkey seems straightforward enough — but the wealth of options available today can confuse shoppers who aren’t sure what they want or what certain labels mean. Here’s a quick glossary to cover the main points*:
As Americans become more aware of the often harsh conditions in which commercial poultry are raised, many are choosing free-range turkeys over better-known name brands. Under USDA standards, free-range birds must have access to the outdoors while they are raised (instead of being crammed into overcrowded farm facilities). Along with other advocates of free-range turkeys, the regional farmers who raise them say the birds are of higher quality than their commercially processed counterparts, because their diets are more varied (improving the flavor of their meat) and they get more exercise (improving their texture).
What are heritage turkeys? These unusual breeds were once common in America, but fell out of favor as growers concentrated on the specially bred, big-breasted birds preferred by consumers (typically the Broad Breasted White turkey). Heritage varieties include Narragansett, American Bronze, Jersey Buff, and Bourbon Red.
Per the Splendid Table, heritage turkeys generally offer less breast meat and a stronger flavor than a conventional Thanksgiving turkey. As a result of the latter point, some expert cooks recommend not brining heritage birds, as doing so just wipes out their unique flavor.
By federal regulation, a turkey labeled “natural” may not contain artificial flavorings, coloring, or chemical preservatives. The natural label also means the bird hasn’t been fed animal byproducts or given growth promotants or antibiotics (except for parasite control). Forbes writer Beth Hoffman says the last point alone makes natural turkeys worth it: “If we can stop the run away use of antibiotics in raising livestock and poultry, it is worth a few extra cents a pound to do it.”
Natural turkeys must also be minimally processed, meaning they have only been handled as necessary to slaughter, clean, and make them ready for human consumption. Note that a “natural” designation doesn’t have to be free-range, and that “natural” isn’t the same as…
Organic turkeys are free-range birds that have not been treated with hormones or antibiotics, and were given pesticide-free feed. Consumer Reports agrees with Hoffman that the lack of antibiotics is in itself a good reason to go organic. Whether organic birds taste noticeably better is up for debate and presumably highly subjective; in 2011, a representative from the World Society for the Protection of Animals said that “While some studies have been conducted on the taste of meat from organically-raised turkeys versus meat from intensively raised animals, to my knowledge they have not been conclusive.” And Mic in 2017 pointed out that the “organic” label is not a guarantee that meat is healthier or was raised and processed under more humane conditions.
Quite simply, kosher turkeys are prepared under rabbinical supervision according to Jewish dietary law. While alive, these turkeys are given no antibiotics and fed a vegetarian diet, Epicurious says. Then they’re covered with kosher salt and rinsed repeatedly in cold water. This can make for a juicier, tastier bird, but, as Tablet notes, the process also means kosher turkeys are usually not entirely plucked before they’re sold, which can be a pain. The general sentiment is that you shouldn’t brine a kosher turkey, because they’re already salty enough, but Joan Nathan pushes back on that here, noting that she and her friends agree the kosher turkeys of today are less salty than they used to be.
A self-basting turkey is injected with a solution to improve the flavor and juiciness of the meat. Some manufacturers treat only the breast meat, while others inject the entire bird. The label must say “basted” or “self-basted” and must list the amount and names of the ingredients used in the basting solution. (Remember, the net weight of the turkey includes the weight added by the solution — so you could be paying more for less meat. Cook’s Info says: “The solution injected will constitute 6 to 9 % of the weight that you are paying for.”) Generally speaking, you do not need to brine a self-basting turkey yourself before cooking (which saves time). If you prefer to use your own brine solution, read the packaging closely to ensure your Thanksgiving centerpiece isn’t already basted.
As stated, a fully cooked whole turkey has been precooked and frozen by the processor. After thawing, it can be reheated (or served cold), which takes much less time than cooking a raw bird. Note, though: You can’t stuff a fully cooked turkey, as the dish isn’t in the oven long enough.
A “young” turkey is a turkey of either sex that is less than 8 months old at the time of slaughter. Most turkeys reach market maturity at 4-5 months of age. As Berkeley Wellness says, “Most of the turkeys found on the market are young and will have tender meat.”
Hen vs. tom
Turkeys weighing 8-16 pounds are usually female (hens), while larger birds are male (toms). Since supermarket turkeys are normally slaughtered young, both hens and toms should be about the same in terms of taste, juiciness, and tenderness — so don’t fret too much over the sex of your bird. (That said, Berkeley Wellness notes that some cooks claim toms are tastier, and some say you’ll get more white meat on a hen.)
As you might guess, the further you get from name-brand commercial turkeys, the more you’re likely to pay. Heritage and organic turkeys can be pricey. If you’re searching for something less expensive, consider Amish turkeys (which are generally natural and hormone-free) or free-range birds. (For a real deep dive on turkey prices, the USDA has information for you.)
*As this NPR article from 2015 makes clear, a number of these labels are not quite as clear-cut as we wish they were!
2. To Get the Right Size, Buy a Pound Per Person (or More)
Here’s a simple formula: Get 1 pound of Thanksgiving turkey for each adult you’re serving, and half a pound per child. So if you’ve got 10 adults coming and four kids, you’ll want at least a 12-pound bird. If you’re inviting big eaters or counting on plenty of leftovers, make it 1.5 pounds per adult. (For creative recipes for your excess meat, check out “Thanksgiving Leftovers: Five Fresh Ideas.”)
Once you hit the 16-pound mark, you can be less strict, as birds that big have a better ratio of meat to bone — e.g., a 20-pound turkey will serve 14 people just fine and yield plenty of leftovers.
3. For Many People, Frozen Beats Fresh
As a rule, fresh food sounds better than frozen. But turkey is different. The term “fresh” applies to raw poultry that has never been stored below 26°F. Poultry held at 0°F or below must be labeled “frozen.” (Turkeys stored between 1°F and 25°F don’t have an official name, but are often labeled “refrigerated,” “hard-chilled,” or “previously frozen.”)
In other words, “fresh” only describes a turkey’s temperature from the time it was processed. It has nothing to do with how long it’s been sitting at the store.
If you are curious about how fresh turkeys fared in an Epicurious taste test of supermarket brand turkeys, the Bell & Evans’ fresh turkey review was the most positive, earning an Epi Top Pick stamp of approval.
And while some cooks rave about a fresh Thanksgiving turkey straight from the farm, in a Cook’s Illustrated taste test, frozen turkeys were rated more moist and tender than fresh birds.
So we recommend buying a frozen Thanksgiving turkey, as long you have the time and the fridge space to thaw it safely — a 15-pound turkey will take about three full days to thaw.
4. Decide on Your Recipe Before Shopping
Your recipe’s success can depend on the type of Thanksgiving turkey you choose. For instance, if you’re experimenting with an unusual brine or exotic seasonings, you probably don’t want a self-basting bird. Or if you’re planning to grill your turkey, you’ll want to be sure it’s not too big. (You also might want to consider asking your butcher to spatchcock it — remove the backbone — for you. This is an excellent method for roasting, too.) So go in to your turkey purchase with an idea of what you’d like to do.
5. Lock Down Special Turkeys ASAP
If you want a free-range, organic, or heritage bird as your Thanksgiving turkey, it’s not a bad idea to start planning in mid-October. (If you use a digital calendar, go set an annual reminder right now!) Local co-ops and groceries often begin reserving turkeys a few weeks in advance, and family farms like to know even sooner. You’re better off checking in early than missing the rush. And even if you’re just getting a regular frozen commercial bird, make sure you buy it far enough in advance (usually 3-5 days before Thanksgiving) that it has time to thaw.
To make this year’s Thanksgiving turkey the best you’ve ever served,
download our FREE Ultimate Turkey Guide right now.
Yikes…summer flew by and it seems that we’re careening into fall. Now that we’ve cleared the hurdles of Back to School and Labor Day and are about to switch thermostats from cool to heat, wouldn’t it be a relief to actually be able to check something important off of your to do list?
If the speed in which the seasons are changing is any indication, the holidays will be upon us soon and things will only get more intense as the fourth quarter approaches.
Employee Holiday Gifts – Planning Now Is The Smart Strategy
By planning ahead, your own holidays may just be a bit brighter and less stressful.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to spend time with your own family and friends without the worry looming that you haven’t completed your employee holiday gift purchasing?
Perhaps you’ll even be able to slow down enough to curl up with a blanket and a book about hygee, the Scandinavian pursuit of coziness and the celebrating life’s simple pleasures.
Why Gifting a Turkey Is Always Appropriate and Appreciated
Gratitude seems to be a trending topic these days, but showing appreciation and giving thanks is certainly not a new concept – we just seem to be learning more about the benefits.
A turkey is the quintessential symbol of our national holiday that celebrates the tradition and importance of thankfulness. It’s place at the center of the table where family and friends gather makes it a significant and meaningful representation of the appreciation you have for your employees.
The gift of a turkey for Thanksgiving has been a traditional business gift for over a century. It’s valued and appreciated by everyone.
Read more about why turkey makes an ideal employee gift at the holidays.
Here to Help
The team at gThankYou can make employee holiday gift giving as smooth as possible. gThankYou offers Turkey Gift Certificates good for any brand of whole turkey and redeemable at most major grocery store chains in the U.S.
If you haven’t ordered turkey gift vouchers before, relax, it’s easy! Order online or by phone. Most orders ship the same day too.
No need for messy and complicated logistics with a frozen turkey gift. Management can still hand out your turkey gifts personally and recipients will love the opportunity to purchase the size, brand and preparation of turkey that’s best for their family.
Not sure whether a turkey gift certificate is right for your business or confused about the difference between a turkey gift certificate vs. gift cards and gift checks? You’ll find answers from gThankYou in this article.
Wrap Your Gift in Gratitude
All you need to do is add the gratitude for your employees’ contributions throughout the past year.
Write a holiday letter to employees…see examples of letters and learn from real workplace leaders in gThankYou’s free ebook.
Or take advantage of our FREE gift Enclosure Cards to share your personal message of holiday thanks along with a company logo or management signature. We are happy to send you a proof to share with management and then include it with your order. Easy, meaningful employee holiday gifts that take the stress out of gift-giving.
While it’s human nature to procrastinate, let gThankYou help you appreciate your deserving workforce this holiday season. gThankYou offers speedy order fulfillment, but your pre-holiday burdens will be lightened when you plan ahead and order soon.
For more tips on great employee gift-giving, download this free guide and be an office hero!Building a happy workplace is a priority for many employers. It starts with doing the fundamentals such as diversity, equality and fairness well. Embrace these and you’ll have the foundation needed for building a great workplace. Add a commitment to employee appreciation and you’ll create a happy, productive and loyal workforce.
Inequality Breeds UnhappinessWhy is that even when, in general, we are more prosperous, we are less happy? Jonathan Rauch explores this issue in-depth in a New York Times op-edIn America (and also in other countries), an impressive postwar rise in material well-being has had zero effect on personal well-being. The divergence between economic growth and subjective satisfaction began decades ago. Real per capita income has more than tripled since the late 1950s, but the percentage of people saying they are very happy has, if anything, slightly declined.Rauch, when conducting research for his book, The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50, learned that happiness is local and relative.Although moral philosophers may wish Homo sapiens were wired more rationally, we humans are walking, talking status meters, constantly judging our worth and social standing by comparing ourselves with others today and with our own prior selves.Rauch further explained, “…people will tolerate and sometimes even embrace inequality if they believe the system is fair and lets them get ahead.” He described a witticism that is often attributed to Gore Vidal, “it is not enough for me to succeed; others must fail” as being “uncomfortably accurate.” Rauch cited a striking experiment, in which certain households in Kenyan villages were the random recipients of large financial windfalls. The lucky households were happy, but their neighbors experienced increased unhappiness because they felt as they had fallen behind.
Why are people in some countries happier than others? What factors contribute to happiness and how can we improve happiness at home and in the workplace? We can apply lessons from the happiest countries in the world on how to be happy.
Listen and LearnFreakanomics recently released a podcast “How to be Happy” addresses those questions and does a deep dive into Denmark’s consistently high happiness ranking. It’s definitely worth a listen (or a read since it’s also been transcribed). It includes engaging interviews with: Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen; Jeff Sachs, economics professor at Columbia University, special adviser to the UN Secretary General on the Sustainable Development Goals and co-editor of the World Happiness Report; and Helen Russell, journalist and author.
What are the Happiest Countries?
The U.N.’s World Happiness Report, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants (and also serves as an antidote to our unhealthy obsession with Gross Domestic Product), is typically topped by Nordic countries. In 2018 Finland took the top spot as the happiest country. The rest of the top ten in order of overall happiness were Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia.
The U.S. ranked 18th, dropping down four spots from last year. Sachs explained, “The U.S. happiness ranking is falling, in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse and untreated depression.”
(more…)“The Science of Happiness at Work.” Based on the center’s hugely popular free course “The Science of Happiness,” this new course will teach attendees why it matters so much to promote happiness in the workplace and how to do it. As the center puts it:On September 3, the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, will launch a new online course, Read Full Post
People who are happier at work are more committed to their organization, rise to positions of leadership more rapidly, are more productive and creative, and suffer fewer health problems. More and more, research is suggesting that happiness should not be an afterthought for workplaces; it should be an essential goal, entwined with the kinds of 21st century skills that are key to individual and organizational success today.
And a key element of happiness in the workplace is gratitude. In fact, gratitude is a key element of happiness anywhere, according to decades of research on the subject. As researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky — author of the bestselling The How of Happiness and The Myths of Happiness — explains in this short video, gratitude does a number of things to pave the way for happy feelings.
Thinking about building an employee wellness program?
They’re still quite popular with businesses looking for perks that will benefit both workers and leadership. Per HR Dive, in a 2017 study by Virgin Pulse, 85 percent of employers surveyed said their wellness programs were good for employee engagement, recruitment, retention, and overall company culture. More than just offering exercise- and diet-related options, these programs are increasingly incorporating mental-health components as well. That shift has proven popular with employees, 85 percent of whom say they want help managing stress.
That said, employee wellness programs are far from a magic bullet. Further research reported by HR Dive reveals that while 56 percent of employers think building an employee wellness program has made their employees healthier, only 32 percent of those employees concur with that assessment. And in another survey, 55 percent of employers claimed to offer wellness programs, but only 36 percent of employees said they were aware of those programs.
If your company is interested in building an employee wellness program, you’ll want to think hard about what kinds of wellness are most meaningful to your workers. You also want to design a program your employees will actually use and that has practical benefits for the company as a whole.
In an article about workplace friendships for L & D Daily Advisor, writer Lin Grensing-Pophal cites a Gallup Q-12 employee engagement assessment tool which asks the questions, “Do you have a best friend at work?” Why ask that question? Well, research by Gallup indicates that having a best friend in the workplace correlates with higher job satisfaction rates AND a reduction in the likelihood that an employee will depart to find a different job.
Sadly, a New York Times opinion piece by Adam Grant indicates that the number of employees who say they have a friend (not even a best friend) in the workplace is declining.
When It Comes to Employee Perks, Trendy Is Out.
What kind of employee perks are you offering?
A study from Oregon State University, cited in HR Dive, has found that at least one trendy workplace “extra” probably isn’t doing recruiters much good: Companies that tout in-office happy hours and other opportunities to drink alcohol can turn off certain job candidates.
And those candidates who are fine having drinks on the company tab don’t care enough for it to make a real difference in whether they take the job. So unless there’s good reason for drinking to be a significant part of your corporate culture, there’s little benefit to plugging alcohol among your employee perks.
In fact, research in general has shown that most job candidates aren’t interested in flashy, hip, or faddish employee perks. The savviest candidates — in other words, the ones you may well want working for you — see through the hype. Wellness programs, another fashionable perk, are often more popular with employers than with the employees who are supposed to take advantage of them, another HR Dive post notes. The post suggests that customization — finding ways to mold perks more closely to employees’ individual needs — is key.
Indeed, what both current workers and job candidates want are employee perks that demonstrate an employer’s appreciation for them. As we’ve mentioned, appreciation is about seeing people as individuals and treating them as more than just their job titles. Really, your whole hiring process should be designed to show appreciation for candidates, HR Dive points out:
If a recruitment process lacks personal interaction, applicants may assume that, once hired, they’ll be just another cog in the wheel. And that’s not a great impression to give if you’re looking for employees who can stand out.
And the employee perks you offer should be in line with that philosophy, as well. Rather than trendy, your perks should be aimed at recognizing that employees have a larger life beyond the time they spend working for you.
As a leader you’re probably getting pulled in a million different directions and your time is in short supply. But the time you spend really being present in a sincere, mindful and purposeful way when interacting with your employees and recognizing them for their efforts and contributions is time well-spent.
With a bit of effort you can break some bad habits and start embracing some new practices and ways of thinking that can help boost morale (and ultimately your bottom line). Read on for straightforward ways to maximize employee recognition time.
4 Tips to Help Maximize Employee Recognition Time
1. Put away your smartphone
HR Dive explored the impact of bosses taking calls and checking their phones while in face-to-face exchanges with employees and not surprisingly, employees dislike being treated in this dismissive way, in fact 75% of employees who were surveyed on this issue said that it led to a lack of trust and decreased engagement. There is even a term for this phone snubbing – “boss phubbing.”
Bottom line, it’s disrespectful and the trickle down effect on management can increase stress if managers feel they must also immediately respond to texts, emails and calls on their phones.HR Dive sums it up: “Smartphones, like most technologies, have made it easier for people to connect with each other, organize their lives and access information. But smartphones also have minimized the face-to-face time that remains essential to building trust among colleagues and between managers and employees.”
2. Spend a little compassion
A Harvard Business Review article on how power can corrupt leaders but compassion can save them, discusses how power impairs mirror-neurological activity which is our ability to understand and associate with others. A survey of CEOs indicated awareness that more compassion in their roles was needed, but they also admitted uncertainty on how to achieve more compassion.
HBR suggested these strategies: apply compassion to any engagement – start asking yourself “How can I be of benefit to this person?” and use this as a mantra when you interact with clients, colleagues, family and friends; seek opportunities to show compassion like John Chambers of CISCO who is notified within 48 hours when an employee suffers a severe loss or illness so he can extend his support through a letter underscoring his care and compassion; and do a daily compassion meditation – the article includes step by step prompts that can help you rewire you brain to be compassionate through meditation.
3. Just be nice
In an HR Dive article, Cord Himelstein reveals that the “big secret to employee engagement” is simply – be nice! He suggests that the correct answer to these typical employee engagement questions is – you guessed it – be nice: How do I get people to respect me? How do I get people to work more efficiently? How do I get people to work more efficiently? How do I get people more excited about work? How do I motivate a team? How do I increase profits? How do I change my corporate culture? How do I make genuine connections with people?
Himelstein explains, “…you can always squeeze and cajole a little more work out of someone but there’s no cheese at the end of that tunnel. You have to make it a rule from the top down to always be nice and stick to it. Everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, will work harder for someone who is nice to them and work less hard for someone who is mean to them.”
Some Bonus Tips If You’re Feeling Inspired
More strategies you can try include: learn to have more meaningful conversations with staff, pursue values-based recognition, don’t buy into Silicon Valley workaholism, and embrace usefulness and gratitude.
Why Are These Tips Key?
With 1 in 5 employees leaving their jobs due to lack of support from management (according to HR Bartender’s poll), it’s time to confront this issue and reflect on your current approach. If you could benefit from incorporating some (or all of these tips) then try a mini-makeover on the way you interact with employees.
Celebrate Your Employees’ Contributions Now
July is National Ice Cream Month so you still have time to plan a fun event to mark the occasion with an ice cream social, sundae buffet or ice cream gift certificates.
Check out more celebrations that can make your workplace more lively and help with opportunities to engage and recognize employees by downloading gThankYou’s handy and free, “2018 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar”.
gThankYou’s annual calendar is full of useful information – insights into the latest HR trends, how-to tutorials for engaging and thanking employees, case studies to inspire you, examples of holidays to celebrate each month, and research statistics to help you make the business case for appreciation. We hope it inspires you and your colleagues.
Download yours FREE now!