Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Corporate Holiday Parties - Making a Comeback??

I hope everybody enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday. Now it’s time for corporate holiday parties to soon kick into high gear. It seems that more American companies are getting into the festive mood this season and that’s a good thing for everybody. That being said, optimism for a big uptick in the economy and the special event industry should still be tempered, of course.

Although more companies are having parties, most plan to spend no more than last year - even less if they can pull it off. We've known that the big elaborate corporate parties are a thing of the past, hopefully to someday return, but companies seem to be slowly creeping back to events and of course holiday parties are downright expected from employees.  Many will get their wish, but may have to do without expected luxuries.  Some companies are having the parties in their own building and others are limiting costs by…shield your eyes…by not serving alcohol!! Good grief.

According to John Challenger from consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas (hmmm…), “The holiday parties are becoming more numerous. And they’re not going to be as limited as they were during the recession, but they’re still subdued. Companies are still cautious.”

Are they cautious of spending money, or cautious of the media reporting how much money was spent?  Hey corporate America,  mum is the word.  Go ahead and spend, our lips are sealed! ;)

Companies planning parties are up this year at 68% compared to 62% last year, but only 45% plan to serve alcohol, down from 57% last year. Just over half plan to have the party on company premises, but from 29% a year ago.

Another piece of good news is that companies this year are paying for outside help. 71% of companies surveyed said they would use the services of a caterer and/or event planner, compared to only 36% a year ago.

Companies are also looking to do something that may be a bit out of the ordinary for the masses.  Every year, Hartford lobbying firm Sullivan & LeShane rents a luxury bus and gives their 15 employees santa hats and a stipend to buy gifts for needy families.  The bus stops at various shops and they buy gifts for charity, ending the evening with a nice dinner at a local restaurant. 

I've heard about companies going to a bowling alley for a bonding/holiday party.  Some take a quick trip to Atlantic City or Foxwoods, while many still go the small cocktail party route and others stick with the traditional sit down dinner at a restaurant or club.  I also hear that many companies have said dinner or cocktail parties in a tent.  Personally, I like that idea.  It works for me.

So while some may or may not be happy with their company’s upcoming holiday party this year, the news is positive. Any time the numbers trend up in regard to holiday events or any events at all…we should all take something positive from that. My cup of eggnog is half full. 


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