4 tips for balancing work and social obligations during holidays

calendar next to a laptop and clock

For many, holidays are marked by celebrations and time spent with loved ones. The lead-up to these celebrations can be particularly busy for dental assistants, who are often juggling jam-packed schedules at work in addition to their social obligations. Not to mention there needs to be time for holiday shopping!

This balancing act can potentially be a burden — something no one wants this time of year. Here are a few tips for dental assistants to get through the holiday season with minimal stress.

Plan and prioritize

Sometimes, it’s just not possible to fit everything into your schedule, especially around the holidays. When your dental office has a busy December schedule, it’s imperative for your team to have a plan to tackle every day. Those morning huddles become essential to keep everyone on the same page about task delegation, treatment plans, patient histories, and how the staff will approach the day ahead. With strong organization and planning, the team can work efficiently and get home to their families and holiday activities on time.

If your social calendar is starting to fill up, too, it can be helpful to make a priority list. Decide what tasks and events fall in the “must-do” category and which ones aren’t essential. In the non-essential group, prioritize which tasks or events are most important to you and that you have time for.

Set boundaries

To maintain your well-being, it’s important to establish boundaries in and out of the dental office. Even when the schedule is busy, make sure you take scheduled breaks to eat, hydrate, and recharge before tackling the rest of your workday. A 2022 survey by Sharebite found that a lunch break provides employees more energy, elevates their mood, and makes them more productive for the rest of the day. Additionally, if your workload is too much to handle and you need support, speak up. Your teammates are there to help, and your supervisor can delegate tasks accordingly.

It’s important to set boundaries in your social life, too. While you don’t want to disappoint friends or family, don’t overextend yourself during the holidays, either. It’s OK to politely say no if you’re invited to an event you don’t have the time or energy for. You can always reschedule time after the holidays when things slow down a bit!

Make time for yourself

When the dental office schedule is full and you’re devoting free time to holiday shopping and quality time with friends and family, it leaves little time for yourself. Being busy with work and social obligations constantly can be draining and lead to burnout. That’s why it’s important to unplug and take time for yourself when you can.

Make time for hobbies that bring you joy or help you unwind, such as watching a TV show or reading a book. This can help you decompress after a long day of work or socializing. Additionally, exercising and getting plenty of sleep can help you feel more energized and ready to take on a new day of dental appointments and holiday activities.


When you’re feeling the grind of the holiday season, communication is key whether you’re at work or at home. In the office, make sure you speak up if you’re caught up with a procedure and need help preparing an exam room, disinfecting instruments, or greeting a patient. The dental team is there to help each other and ensure each day goes as smoothly as possible. Likewise, make sure you communicate with your boss and teammates about any obligations that you may need to schedule around — and do so as early as possible. For example, if you need to leave a few minutes early for an appointment, let your team know so they can adjust accordingly.

Communicating with friends and family is important, too. The end-of-year rush is very real at the dental office, so make sure you explain the demands of your schedule and set realistic expectations about when you’re available. This helps everyone plan more effectively, and it shows your consideration for everyone else’s busy schedules!

Read more: Top 3 factors that influence dental assistant satisfaction