myHR: News from Penn's Division of Human Resources

myHR: December 1, 2021

‘Tis the Season for Penn Winter Discounts


The holiday season is here and that means staff and faculty can take advantage of many unique gift giving opportunities through various discounts at Penn’s arts, cultural, and recreational facilities. You can also enjoy special Penn shopping deals online and in-store. Here are some deals you won’t want to miss.


Deals@Penn: Visit the Deals@Penn website for information about the YouDecide discount program and other offers for Penn faculty and staff all year long. Save on everything from apparel to entertainment.

Penn Bookstore: Check out the 2021 Gift Catalog. Choose from an array of merchandise that proudly displays the Penn brand, including apparel and unique collectibles. Enjoy 25% off when you shop online through December 1. Use the promo code THEBIG25 when placing your order. Also, get free shipping on all catalog and online orders through December 18 using the promo code PENNSHIP. For faculty and staff members on campus, enjoy 25% off in-store through December 1; some exclusions apply, including technology, textbooks, and gift card purchases.

The bookstore’s Annual Winter Sale-a-bration will be held December 2 and 3. Save 20% storewide on items including Penn-branded merchandise, gifts, books, games, and much more. Holiday festivities include a performance by the Penn Glee Club on December 3 from 2 to 2:45 p.m., a free professional photo taken in a winter scene setting on December 2 and 3 from 2 to 6 p.m., a chance to win one of three $100 Penn Bookstore Gift Cards, and other festive giveaways!


Penn Campus Recreation: Get a head start on your New Year’s intentions by signing up for a Penn Campus Recreation membership. Access to two locations (Pottruck & Fox), the Sheerr Pool, indoor basketball courts, and basic group exercise classes are all included with membership. Additional services include rock climbing, golf simulator, aquatics lessons, premium weightlifting, personal training, outdoor gear rentals, reformer Pilates, and intramural sport leagues. There are membership options for spouses and dependents! Visit the Penn Campus Recreation website today to explore our offerings and sign up.

Arts & Culture

Penn Live Arts: Penn Live Arts at the Annenberg Center continues to offer a 20% discount to Penn faculty and staff for all performances, including the highly anticipated debut of Dorrance Dance, featuring a brand-new work celebrating Ella Fitzgerald’s timeless holiday songbook. Use promo code PENN when purchasing tickets online or on the phone. Visit for more information.

Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA): When planning your visit to ICA this holiday season, make sure to reserve your timed ticket in advance. Entry to ICA is always free. A hybrid of free December events include: Day With(out)Art on December 1, artist talks on December 2 and 9, and Coffee & Conversation on December 15.The exhibition Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation continues through December 30 and OUTSIDE IN, Na Kim - FFC on 6, 7, 8 will remain on view through July 10, 2022.

For the art lover on your list, enjoy 20% off select publications purchased in-person through December 30, 2021. Online sales are currently unavailable.

Please note that ICA will be closed for installation December 31, 2021 through March 2, 2022. Virtual programming will be held during this time. Sign up for their newsletter to learn more, check the website, or follow @ICAPhiladelphia.

Morris Arboretum: The Arboretum’s Holiday Garden Railway is a delight for rail fans and greenery lovers of all ages. The spectacular miniature display is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through January 2.  For those who would like to see the magic of the Holiday Garden Railway by night, The Holiday Garden Railway Nights will be available for nine weekend evenings through December 26 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The Arboretum will be closed December 24, 25, 31, and January 1. Regular admission to Morris Arboretum is free for Penn Card holders. Advance tickets are required for the nighttime display. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Morris Arboretum website

Penn Museum: The Penn Museum Shop is now available online, where you can purchase one-of-a-kind gifts from around the world, including jewelry, hand-made scarves and other accessories, clothing, and books. Here is a time-saving tip: If you are looking for ornaments, chocolates, or scarves, go to the “Logo” tab from the homepage to select your desired item. Enjoy 25% off your purchase using the discount code Holiday2021Penn. The code is valid December 15-24. Some exclusions may apply. To save on shipping, choose “pick up” when placing your order, then pick up your merchandise at the East Entrance of the museum Monday-Friday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about virtual and on-site events, including “Winter Break” when kids under 17 get free admission on December 29-30, check the events calendar.

Special Winter Vacation Extension Reminder

Each year, the President, Provost and Senior Executive Vice President assess the feasibility of observing Penn’s traditional Special Winter Vacation. The Special Winter Vacation granted to faculty and staff will be December 27, 28, 29, and 30, 2021, as well as January 3 and 4, 2022. The first two business days in January will be included in this year’s Special Winter Vacation as a gesture of gratitude. This extension was announced in the November 10 Message to the Penn Community, which is available online and includes more details about Penn’s successful transition to campus life this fall.

Staff members who are absent from work either the workday before a holiday, the workday after a holiday or both days will receive holiday pay if that absence is charged to pre-approved paid time off or to sick days substantiated by a written note from the staff member’s health care provider.

Gathering Gratitude

After the Thanksgiving leftovers are finished and you’re back to work, it pays to stay thankful. Why practice gratitude, especially if you aren’t having a social-media-post-worthy fall? Call it a trait or a virtue, gratitude improves our lives. Researchers at Penn’s Positive Psychology Center and other renown institutions have found connections between well-being and acts of gratitude. Beyond pleasant attitudes and proper manners, being actively thankful for good things and kind acts is linked to a range of psychological and social benefits such as greater joy in good times, resilience in stressful times, and stronger relationships. Gratitude doesn’t require thankful genes or special upbringing. With practice, you can develop your appreciation for positive aspects of life, great and small.

To help you build your gratitude habits in December, Penn offers two opportunities for you to express thanks for the brighter moments in this year of uncertainty.

Gathering Gratitude

First, we invite Penn faculty and staff to complete this quick Gathering Gratitude questionnaire and share what makes you feel grateful, whether it’s awe-inspiring wonder or an everyday pleasure, a life-saver or a little favor. Selected entries will be published in the December 15 issue of myHR and at Gathering Gratitude is not a competition, but there is a chance to win a prize. To show our gratitude for participation, one Penn faculty or staff member’s  entry will be selected at random to receive a gift package from the Human Resources Work-life and Wellness team. To be eligible for the prize drawing, complete the Gathering Gratitude questionnaire by December 10, 2021 at 5.p.m. EST.

Gratitude Journal Challenge

Next, you can participate in the Penn Healthy Habit Challenge “Gratitude Journal” on the Virgin Pulse wellness platform. This challenge gives you the opportunity to earn 250 Be in the Know 2021-2022 campaign points for simply taking note of what you’re grateful for each day from December 13-19. To get started, log in to the Virgin Pulse portal on December 13. Click the “Social” tab on the main menu, then click “Challenges” and select “Gratitude Journal” to join.

Once you experience the benefits of daily gratitude practice, we hope you’ll continue this healthy habit into the New Year and beyond.

To learn more, take a deeper dive into gratitude with these online sources:

Brené Brown on the relationship between joy and gratitude

Why You Need to Protect Your Sense of Wonder — Especially Now

What Is Gratitude?

Why Practice Gratitude?

Visit MindWell at Penn for more emotional well-being support and behavioral health benefits for Penn faculty, staff, and their families.

Healthy Eating for the Holidays 


The holidays are here. That means spending time with friends, family, and lots of food. From the mouthwatering turkey to the rich and savory sides to the decadent desserts, it would seem virtually impossible to eat healthy during the holidays. However, you can enjoy your favorite feasts without sacrificing flavor and get the nutritional value you need.

“We expect people to enjoy holiday foods. We understand that these foods are going to be present, but they don’t have to be the only things that we eat,” says Christine Steerman, a registered dietitian from Corporate Wellness Nutrition (CWN).

“A little bit of thought and preparation can go a long way. So rather than only focusing on just the cake and high calorie foods, also think about what other meals you are having and what other ways you can work in the fruits and vegetables. For example, if you know that you are going out to dinner or a holiday party later in the week and those events are not going to have lots of produce available, think about how you make sure that the meals you have leading up to those events are a little more nutritious,” Steerman explains.

Eating healthy during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to ditch grandma’s prized macaroni and cheese or a friend’s potluck party altogether. CWN offers these tips for how to handle all of those tempting treats at the buffet and dessert tables this season. 

  1. Set realistic goals. You don’t want the holidays to be a time when you decide that you are going to be super restrictive. Keep your goals reasonable and don’t overextend yourself. Instead of saying I won’t eat any dessert, pick one thing for dessert, sit down, and enjoy it. That way you are setting an expectation for yourself going into the meal.
  2. Make some simple swaps. You don’t have to forego flavor when substituting ingredients. “There are times when we could make a few swaps so that not every single dish we have is always the highest in calories or uses the most sugar or butter. There are definitely some recipes that we’re not touching because of tradition. But, for example, can we sometimes do a baked fruit dish versus always having the cookies and the pies. They can be just as tasty and a little lighter,” Steerman says.

    Samantha Bluj, CWN Client Success Manager, says for a muffin or bread recipe, use applesauce instead of butter or oils that are high in saturated fat. Bluj also recommends using plain, fat-free yogurt instead of sour cream for your family’s favorite dips and making homemade cranberry relish instead of serving high-sugar cranberry sauce.

  3. Plan ahead for the holiday party. “Offer to bring an appetizer, dish, or side that you know is going to be in line with what you want and what your body needs,” Bluj says. If bringing a dish is not an option, Bluj recommends that you channel your mindful eating strategies and skills. Avoid gathering around the buffet table. Have your conservations away from the food. Make your plate knowing that you can get up for seconds, but don’t overdo it on that first plate. Once you do get your food on the plate, savor every bite. Slow down when you’re eating, enjoy the flavors, smell the food, and think about the textures. That can help you avoid overeating in that moment.
  4. Properly nourish yourself for the day. Often people will refrain from eating all day in what they think is preparation for the big holiday feast. However, Bluj says that by doing this you are setting your body up for starvation mode and triggering it to crave anything and everything. That could ultimately lead to overeating. Eat small healthy snacks before the big meal to better manage your blood sugar and to eliminate those hunger pangs.
  5. Exercise habits that keep you grounded. Maybe it’s the yoga classes that you take twice a week or that walk with your friends after work. Whatever regular activity or movement you engage in, try to keep those habits going through the holidays. Steerman suggests making grocery shopping a regular activity so that you have more nutritious foods on hand to have at the meals in between all the holiday festivities.
  6. Meet with a registered dietitian. Work with an accredited provider during the holiday season to help you set realistic goals and expectations. You can sign up for one-on-one virtual nutrition counseling at Penn’s Corporate Wellness Nutrition’s Sign Up page. A team member will reach out in one to two business days to book your appointment. All Penn employees, spouses, and dependents are welcome to sign up for their first visit to determine insurance coverage. In the event you are not covered, your first visit will be complimentary. Penn’s health plans offer six free nutrition counseling sessions per year (only virtual at this time), with many non-Penn plans also offering similar coverage.
  7. If you do overindulge, get back on track. Steerman says get curious rather than critical about your food choices. Consider what led you to overindulge. Did you let yourself get too hungry? Were you distracted by conversation or the TV? “When we learn why we made the choice we did, that’s how we can make the change the next time around. But if we are always critical and guilting ourselves, we’re never going to learn from it,” Steerman says.

Bluj adds that you should also be careful not to use exercise as punishment for a meal. Maybe make it a tradition for your whole family to go for a walk after the holiday dinner rather than sitting on the couch. You can also commit to get back on track with a balanced breakfast the next day. Incorporate fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein in your morning meal to help you get back to your familiar patterns. 

Here are some additional resources, recipes, and workshops to consider: 

Healthy Meals: No-Bake Holiday Cookie Dough Bites

No-bake-cookies.jpg-200If you like eating cookie dough as much as the baked treats, then you will love these tasty healthier alternatives. They are sweet, savory, and buttery--plus they’re egg- and dairy-free. With just a few simple ingredients and 10 minutes, you will have a flavorful batch for nut-lovers to share. 

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips.

Number of Bites: 8-16


3/4 cup rolled oats 

1 Tbsp chia seeds, flaxseed, or additional oats

1/4 cup nut butter of choice

2.5 Tbsp honey or maple syrup 

1/2 Tsp vanilla 

Dash kosher salt 

1/2 cup mix-ins if desired:

  • White Chocolate Cranberry: 1/4 cup Craisins +1/4 cup white chocolate chips; use with cashew/almond butter)
  • Oatmeal Raisin: 1/2 cup Raisins + 1/4 tsp cinnamon; use maple syrup and almond/cashew butter
  • Almond Joy: 1/4 cup chocolate chips + 1/4 cup almonds; use almond butter and replace 1/2 cup oats w/ unsweetened coconut flakes


  1. Place all ingredients, including desired mix-ins, in a large bowl and stir until dough forms. The dough should be somewhat sticky but hold together when squeezed. If too wet, add more oats and if too dry, add more nut butter or sweetener.
  2. Roll into 1/2 to 1 inch cookie dough bites or use cookie scoop. 
  3. Storage: Store in airtight container in the fridge for 2 weeks or freezer for up to 3 months (perfect for when you need a little sweet treat).

Corporate Wellness Nutrition logo 

Meet With a Registered Dietitian Today!

  • One-on-one, virtual nutrition counseling
  • 100% covered under many insurance plans and available to spouses and dependents
  • Simple Sign Up Process – Visit Penn’s Corporate Wellness Nutrition’s Sign Up page, provide your information and a customer service team member will reach out in one to two business days to book your appointment.

Did You Know: 12 Days of Deals in the Virgin Pulse Store

Be in the Know participants with available rewards to spend can enjoy a festive countdown to the holiday season with 12 Days of Deals in the Virgin Pulse online store. Save on fitness gear, accessories, and more. The deals start December 9. From the Virgin Pulse homepage, click on the “My Rewards” bar at the top, “Spend” tab, and “Shop Now” button. For more information about the 2021-2022 Be in the Know campaign, visit



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