During the holiday season, we all may make questionable choices, like wearing knitted snowman sweaters, overindulging at the dinner table or serving turducken. But according to administrative staffing firm OfficeTeam, the decisions professionals make before going on vacation can mean the difference between a relaxing respite or a harried holiday.

“Taking time off provides an opportunity for employees to recharge and come back to work refreshed,” said OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking. “However, those who don’t lay the proper groundwork before they leave may find themselves constantly connected to the office while on holiday breaks or overloaded when they return.”

OfficeTeam offers five common vacation missteps and tips for avoiding them:

1. Carving out time at the last minute. Coordinate vacation dates with your team as early as possible to avoid scheduling conflicts or a lack of project coverage. Be sure to let your coworkers and other business contacts know when you’ll be out.

2. Acting like a turkey. Use your out-of-office features wisely by including an alternate contact on your voice-mail or e-mail notices. This ensures people get immediate assistance and assignments stay on track.

3. Ruffling colleagues’ feathers. Forgetting to cancel or reschedule meetings planned during your vacation is discourteous to others who set time aside to talk to you. Also, mark your time off on any group calendars so people know when you are not available.

4. Overstuffing your inbox. Examine the storage capacity on your e-mail inbox to ensure you have plenty of space to receive large-size files while you’re away. In addition, clean out your voice-mail box.

5. Not clearing your plate. Avoid scheduling meetings for the morning of your return so you can spend the time getting up to speed on assignments and catching up on e-mail.