When a company knows it will be letting people go before most folks have thrown away their Christmas tree, it has a dilemma on its hands. If it announces the layoffs before the holiday, it risks getting accused of ruining Christmas. But if it waits, then it can be charged with keeping the bad news from those getting let go when they might have made different spending choices over the holiday season.

In some ways it's a no-win situation. And it's a case where bad news, whether it gets delivered before the Christmas ham (or Hanukkah potato latkes) are served, or after still has the same result. People are starting the new year unemployed.

There's no good time to lose a job, but a season filled with hope and happiness may be the worst. Unfortunately, sometimes layoffs do happen at Christmastime, whether it be because of lower-than-expected sales, or an end-of-the-year adjustment. And it's happening again this year. These five companies have announced layoffs.

Boeing not flying high

Boeing (NYSE:BA) has been in the news recently because President-elect Donald Trump believes it is charging too much to build a new Air Force One. That big negative attention, where Trump has threatened to cancel the order, comes at a time when the company is making major cuts to its workforce.

The airplane maker has already trimmed its workforce in 2016 by 8% and more cuts are coming in the new year. Though a specific layoff number has not been cited, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Kevin McAllister made it clear that the cuts were going to continue.

Boeing plans to use a combination of attrition, leaving open positions unfilled, and a voluntary buyout program, but the CEO said that "we may also need to use involuntary layoffs," The Seattle Times reported. The company announced the news before the holiday season so employees could "make plans and decisions for the coming year," The Seattle Times said executives said.

General Motors cuts at three plants

The only General Motors (NYSE:GM) plant in Detroit will lay off its entire second shift, eliminating 1,300 jobs, according to CNN Money. That follows an announcement from the company in November that it would "align production output with demand for cars built at the Lordstown, Ohio, and Lansing Grand River, Michigan, assembly plants."

That's a fancy way to say it's cutting back jobs at those facilities as well. Altogether, about 3,000 people will lose their jobs. GM blames the cuts -- its first since 2010 -- on customers shifting "from cars to crossovers and trucks," which it expects will continue.

Toledo Plant

General Motors will be cutting third shift jobs at this Ohio factory. Image source: General Motors.

Sears and Macy's have been cutting jobs

Both Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) and Macy's (NYSE:M) have been struggling (albeit to different degrees) and that has meant closing stores. Both companies have already announced locations that are being shut down, but the end of the holiday season will mean bad news for more employees as some Sears, Kmart (a Sears brand), and Macy's locations are on the chopping block as soon as the holiday season ends. Q1 shutdowns are generally kept a secret so the chains can wring every last sale out of the busiest time of the year.

Neither Macy's nor Sears Holdings has confirmed how many stores they will close, but both have said that they will shutter unprofitable stores going forward. That puts employees for both chains in a difficult position. Many see signs that their locations may be on the post-holiday chopping block, but until an announcement is made there's no guarantee and a good holiday showing could result in a stay of execution for some locations. 

Tech companies make cuts, too

GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) had ambitions to not just be a company that made cameras but also to use its own technology to create content. That did not work out for the company, which plans to close its entertainment division and stop filling open positions, Variety reported.

The cuts, which were announced on Nov. 30 will mostly take place before the end of the year. Ultimately the company will be cutting its workforce by 15%, more than 200 employees, as part of its plans to return to profitability in 2017.

Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned. He very much enjoys The Grumple (a Grinch-like character) on The Simpsons. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends GoPro. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2019 $12 calls on GoPro and long January 2019 $12 puts on GoPro. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.