If you’ve ever been to New York, you’ll know that it lives up to its reputation as “the city that never sleeps.” Everything is bigger - from pancake stacks to skyscrapers - and everything is buzzier. It’s no surprise then, that when it comes to holidays, New York celebrations are on another level. From “Friendsgiving” to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Black Friday madness and the iconic Times Square Ball Drop. There’s no place like New York during the holidays.
Here, three of our colleges share how they spend the holidays and talk about what it’s like celebrating in the Big Apple when you’re not from New York.
Enterprise Sales Executive Emma Bouthillier is a French national who was born in Hong Kong, raised in Belgium and has immediate family all around the globe (including Paris, Dubai, Switzerland, and Canada). Joining our team last March, Emma has lived in NYC for the past six and a half years but despite living in the city for over half a decade, Emma still finds New York full of surprises and new experiences.
Black Friday in New York is not what you expect.
“For Europeans, Black Friday is seen as this crazy event where Americans will literally run into stores and grab anything they can, so it never appealed to me. You always get such great discounts in New York anyways. But last year I went shopping on Black Friday for the first time and I was very surprised. It was actually quite mellow - particularly as a lot of New Yorkers were out of town for Thanksgiving and the city had emptied out a bit. I went around my favorite stores where I’d usually go shopping and the deals were really good. It was actually a pleasant experience.
The holiday season in New York is very different from Europe.
I think that the main difference lies in that New York always feels very international. Particularly as there are so many people who live in New York who aren’t from New York, so every holiday always feels really inclusive. Take Christmas, in Europe, it’s common to wish someone a Merry Christmas, whereas in the US it’s more typical to say “Happy Holidays” to your colleagues and friends. Every holiday feels like it includes everyone.
Then there’s Thanksgiving. As it’s so close to Christmas and it doesn’t make sense for me to take off and travel three weeks prior to it, I’ve ended up spending half of my Thanksgivings in New York. With my family being far away, I spend it with my friends. Technically that makes it a “Friendsgiving”, which is typical of New York because not everyone’s family lives here. We celebrate with this potluck-style meal where everyone brings a dish. Sometimes it’s conventional dishes like turkey, but we’ve also mixed it up with some not so traditional additions and just create an entire feast (with lots of wine). We’ve then got the long weekend off work where we can take strolls in Central Park and enjoy a bit of an emptier New York, which is really refreshing.
This year I experienced my first Danish-NYC Christmas.
Christmas in New York is just a beautiful time of the year. Freezing, but beautiful. You have these amazing lights, decorations and usually snow. This year was special in that I helped Templafy organize a hybrid Danish-American Christmas experience. Our office is quite young and very international, so we wanted to reflect that in our Christmas party. We started with charcuterie and then had some Danish-style open sandwiches before moving on to a cool restaurant where all the tables were laid out like a big banquet table and we were all sitting next to each other. It was super cheerful with drinks and dancing, and the party carried on late into the night. It was a really fun team bonding experience.”
Henry just celebrated his first anniversary working at Templafy. He joined the team in January 2019 as part of our enterprise sales department and has recently transferred to be one of our Strategic Account Managers. With his father working for the US government, Henry spent most of his childhood abroad, with his family moving every two years to places like Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Tokyo, as well as around the States. He’s now been settled in New York for the past two and a half years, and can’t see himself moving anytime soon.
There's always this huge infectious energy about being in New York…
“And with the holidays that doesn't change at all. In fact, I feel like people are even a little bit more wide-eyed. You get this influx of tourists as New Yorkers leave the city, so you’ll be walking down the street and see people taking pictures and smiling looking up at the buildings. There’s definitely the same fast-paced energy, but it’s like people are enjoying it a little bit more. Then when it snows, it makes the whole experience even more surreal.
There’s always so much going on.
The one thing you can always say about New York is that there's constantly something happening. There’s also a lot you can do in the city that doesn’t cost you anything. This year for Thanksgiving, my sister came to visit me and we celebrated in classic New York style, starting with watching the famous parade at Macy’s store on 34th and Broadway. It's always a really big spectacle and people will line up on Broadway and watch all these floats, bands, performers and big balloons pass by. We then went shopping at Macy’s for Black Friday and got some good deals and headed home to cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (so a lot of turkey and stuffing).
New York is the place to be on New Year’s Eve.
Since I’ve moved to New York, I’ve started this new tradition where my best friends from college all join me to celebrate New Year’s here. Not that Boston, Montreal, and Chicago aren’t cool cities, but New York on New Year’s Eve is like the pinnacle of American New Year’s celebrations. There’s all the lights, people, balloons, crazy decorations and of course the infamous Times Square Ball Drop. It’s become a way we keep in touch, just like you do with your family at Christmas.
I still haven’t experienced a New York Christmas.
Christmas is actually the one holiday where I have to leave New York because I have a big family living all over the world and it’s the one time of year we all get to meet up. Growing up around the world, my parents always did a really good job of trying to make Christmas a combination of American and local traditions. When I lived in Abu Dhabi, for example, we went snowboarding down the sand dunes around Christmas, which isn’t your typical American Christmas. For me, Christmas was never one standard set of traditions, but always a blending of cultures.
That’s actually a big reason why I love working at Templafy. It almost feels like the same environment that I grew up in because there are so many people from different backgrounds. As an office, we’ve worked together to create an internal environment that mixes the best bits of America and Danish cultures, and also includes all our own varied international influences. It’s a really unique place to work.
My job allows me to spend this time with my friends and family.
At previous jobs I’ve had, there’s been an expectation to work on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, but it’s a very different situation at Templafy. This year I took the most time off since graduating. That’s because I’m trusted by my manager to get my job done. In our office, there’s a big emphasis on work-life balance and taking the time to unplug, recharge and refocus. Having that time off means I’m really excited for 2020. I’ve never been part of something where every single person genuinely wants the best for everyone else, so it’s going to be another really fun year watching Templafy grow.”
Zoe is one of our newest Templafy recruits, joining our Business Development team in November. Growing up in suburban North Carolina, then moving to upstate New York for college, she switched nature for NYC three years ago in a move which led her to new communities, contacts and holiday traditions.
For New Year’s Eve, I’ve swapped an acorn drop for Times Square.
“New Year's Eve in New York is one of the craziest days in the city. Everyone is going out or heading to a party. I’ve done a lot of fun stuff like go to a big concert at Terminal 5 and have a Golden Era, Gatsby-themed party with a bunch of friends. It’s a completely different scene compared to where I grew up in North Carolina. Instead of the Times Square Ball Drop, we have the New Year’s Eve acorn drop in Raleigh - so as you can see, North Carolina is a bit more low key than New York.
I'm glad that I grew up around so much nature, but from a young age I’d come to visit my grandmother in New York and I saw the kinds of opportunities that were here and the way people make connections all the time. You can definitely make connections anywhere but I feel like in New York there's just such a wealth of opportunity and if you go and work hard, you can get more out of your efforts.
I usually celebrate Hanukkah in New York...
Because there are always friends (both Jewish and not Jewish) that are around and want to celebrate with me. We make it a really open and inclusive event where we light candles, have dinner, eat good food and drink wine. It’s nice to be a part of these little communities that exist here in New York and invite people who have never experienced it before into your world.
I also like celebrating Jewish holidays in New York because my family has a lot of history here. Ellis Island is a really iconic place where a lot of immigrants came to New York from Europe. There’s this book that still exists with everyone’s name who came over in it and my great grandpa's name is in that book. It’s great being so close to that personal heritage.
Being in New York has allowed me to create new holiday traditions.
Usually, I take a long weekend off and go home for Thanksgiving, but this year I had a really special Friendsgiving instead. I think the whole Friendsgiving thing is pretty unique to New York because it’s a one day holiday and a lot of people who live in New York aren’t from New York City. As a result, you bond with other people who are also not from here. This year I celebrated with ten girls - including a new group of friends. Everyone cooked something to bring to the table and we created this amazing spread with four desserts. It was really welcoming and super warm.
My Templafy Christmas was another new tradition.
Before our Christmas party, we set up a tree in the office and started a new tradition of each picking a different ornament to hang up. We wrote our names on them, and some people hand-decorated theirs or wrote little messages on them. Then we decorated the tree with lights and it was really gorgeous. Afterward, we went to this big restaurant and all sat on one huge table. It reminded me of all the holidays I have with my own family where everyone is sitting around, breaking bread together and getting merry. It was a special moment for me as our whole team felt like a family.”
If you’d like to join our US office and celebrate the holidays in true New York style, we’re always looking for talented people to join us. Visit our careers page to see our latest opportunities.