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Home for the Holidays: Our definitive guide on how to explain your job to your family

The holiday season is upon us, which for most of us includes as many festive activities as it does awkward conversations with family members you only see once a year.

For creative professionals, this time often involves fielding questions about what you do for work. 

In order to stay ready for those inevitable catch-up conversations with Aunt Judy and Uncle Jim, it’s helpful to have a few explainers ready to go. 

Here’s our guide for how to explain your job to your family this holiday season. 

Show them an episode of Mad Men

When Don Draper said, “We’re creative — the least important, most important thing there is” we felt that. 

Don and the rest of the crew at Sterling Cooper are *perfect* representations of modern-day creatives. Lunchtime martinis? Check. Waiting for inspiration to strike while sitting in your smoke-filled office? Check. The similarities are uncanny. 

While you’re waiting for the turkey to cook, gather all of the relatives — aunts, cousins, even grandma will enjoy the debauchery — for a family-friendly viewing of your favorite Mad Men episode. 

If they had any questions about what you did for a living before, this show will give them more than enough answers.

Create a PowerPoint presentation 

You know what always gets the job done? PowerPoint. Talk about the perfect post-meal activity. Because nobody on this Earth has ever fallen asleep during a 30+ slide presentation, am I right?

Used in grade-school classrooms and board meetings around the world, PowerPoint is the quintessential tool for getting your point across with a punch.

Plus, there’s nothing that says “I’m a professional” better than Comic Sans liberally splashed across a PowerPoint slide. Make sure you spice things up a bit with some well-placed WordArt, a few memes, and don’t forget your animations. Remember, there is no such thing as doing too much here. Let them know you mean business.

Make sure you have your website handy

If none of that works, go with plan C and pull up your website. What better way to communicate what you do (and impress your cousins) than by showing your family your own personal front page on the World Wide Web? 

Show them your work samples, services and rates. Give them your elevator pitch and let them know why they should hire you! You might as well drum up new business while you’re here.

Be understanding of those unfamiliar with the Internet

Occasionally, there will be family members who don’t know the difference between a webpage and a flash drive. 

Sometimes it’s better to keep things simple — keep it vague and say you work with computers. Use this line with caution, however. If you aren’t careful, you might end up becoming grandma’s personal IT support hotline. And that’s one client relationship that will definitely test the healthy client boundaries you’ve set up. 

Have any tips for managing the holiday season or explaining your job to your family? Join our Slack community of independent creatives to share your take.