December 2011  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

“It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one’s thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them.”

—Isabel Colegate

Word Pair of the Month: envelop, envelope

Ah, the power of “silent e,” demonstrated once more in this month’s word pair. The first word, envelop, is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable: vel. It means to surround or cover something.

We watched the fog envelop the lighthouse until the tower completely disappeared.

The word envelope, however, shifts the emphasis to the first syllable: en. It refers to the folded paper in which a letter or other document is placed.

She withdrew the note from the envelope and gasped as she read the message.

December Writer’s Forum Question

The winter holidays can offer special challenges for scheduling time off and still getting work done. How does your office handle time-off requests and continuity of business during this period?

Adam DeLuca of St. Paul says his office simply gives in to the spirit of the holiday:

The past two years have been tight, so our company officers decided, instead of offering a holiday bonus, to just shut down and give everyone a paid week off between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The bonus money would be nice, but everyone understands the economy, and we’ve had no complaints about the extra vacation time.

Janet Bernstein of New York offers a practical solution:

Our medical center stays open no matter what, but our Jewish staffers simply volunteer to work for others who want off during Christmas, often trading for days off during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We’ve been doing that for years, and it works great.

Verne Baxter, an office manager in Atlanta, leaves it up to the workers to arrange their time.

We have a flextime schedule in our office, so we let the workers decide how they want to arrange their time. It’s a small office, and we have some family people and some singles, so they can arrange their work around their personal schedules. For example, many of the singles would rather have off around New Year’s, and they’re willing to trade an extra day around Christmas with those who want to spend that time with family. It’s all on a volunteer basis, and it’s worked out pretty well for four years, with very few disagreements. The good company morale is a bonus.

A Final Thought

Do you face the problem of finding a last-minute large-group “bulk gift” that won’t break the bank? Here are some quick and easy (and inexpensive) gifts for your coworkers, kids’ teachers and coaches, or other groups. Buy a lot of pretty glasses or mugs (dollar stores and thrift shops are great sources for these) and some bags of holiday-wrapped grocery-store candies and chocolates. Divide the candies, wrap with some sparkly tissue paper or net, place on top of sparkly paper shreds in the glasses or mugs, embellish with a fancy bow, and voila!—an attractive, inexpensive gift. Want to spend a little extra? Tuck in a gift card to a coffee shop. Here’s another idea: Buy grouped boxes of fancy hot chocolate, tins of flavored popcorn, or “towers” of varying sized boxes of treats. These are often available at the big “club” stores. Take off the outer cellophane holding the individual items together, and you have four or five gifts for the price of one. In today’s economy, you have to watch your pennies, but you can still give a festive gift that carries with it your best wishes.

Happy, healthy winter holidays to all!

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