SURVEY SAYS – Partying Heartily or Hardly Partying?

December 14, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - As one can tell from the near-daily series of surveys we have reported on, 'tis the season for office holiday parties.

This week, we asked readers if they’d be partying hearty – or hardly partying.

The vast majority – 97% – of this week’s respondents were going to be partying in some form or fashion.   More than 38% would be going off-site, while one-in-four would be celebrating on their workplace premises, and a nearly equal 24% said they would be indulging in some combination of onsite, off-site, and/or noshing.   One noted, “We have been munching on contributions here since slightly before Thanksgiving.   The ‘snack pile’ was looking a bit small yesterday, and a comment was made that ‘somebody needs to send us something.'”   And, for those providers in the audience who were wondering if those holiday packages were appreciated, another noted that they would be “partying off-site as well as noshing on contributions (bribes?) that come in from vendors.”

  

Just 3% said they would be noshing only (among these, the reader who noted, “Since our company frowns upon drinking, merrymaking, or being jolly in general.” ), and a like number said they would be doing none of the above (including one reader who said, “We (the HR department) have been invited (as an afterthought) to one of the division’s luncheons, and our department head is taking us to lunch the following day.”  

Generally Upbeat

Folks were generally upbeat about the upcoming festivities (some have apparently been “at it” since about Thanksgiving).   As one reader noted, “Hmmm, let me see.   I guess we qualify for (e) some combination of the above because the Company will host a party (a) tonight.   The Business Unit already did (a) last Thursday.   Our Department will have a lunch (b) in the office next week and our Team will go out to lunch as a part of team building.   NO WONDER WE GAIN WEIGHT DURING THE HOLIDAYS!”

Another said, “I answer (e) some combination of the above because we’re doing (a) (off-site) twice, (b) once (onsite), (c) everyday (noshing), and – even though it’s not fashionable to say it – I do believe in (d) (just being here is a party).”

“My company attempts every year to make the holidays jolly, with a completely paid off-site theatre show and dinner, as well as a company potluck within.   My company’s favorite pastime seems to be food, and this fits the bill.   This is also a theme with our company–good treatment of the workers year-round,” observed another.

“We will be ‘e’-ing or should I say eating,”noted another.   “We will have an off-site dinner and then noshing on all of the contributions which come in, usually on the last two days, so we can’t eat them all fast enough. Then we are closed until January 2nd.”

Not that the choice of venue was always driven by the criteria you might expect.   “Our company usually has b) a party onsite,” noted another, who then noted that “This year, however, we will be having a) the party off-site due to the current renovations of our onsite conference center.   The exact location is still up in the air because the facilities that were originally booked had the roof cave in from the weight of the snowfall we received a few weeks back.”  

On the Other Hand

There were, however, some that were less upbeat.   Consider this sampling:

“Our annual holiday luncheon, which I always dread. Bland hotel ballroom food, cramped room, too much alcohol for those who can’t handle it, attempts at levity by a company chorus, stale cookies for desert, and the memorable mad dash to the cars at the end of the gala event. Fa-la-la-la-la.”

“Catered holiday employee luncheon onsite — I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a ‘party.'”

“An off-site party beginning during work hours.   It’s for employees only, no spouses.   However, I estimate that at least a third of our staff (the office has approx. 55 employees), will not attend due to pressing business matters.”

And then there was the reader who noted, “Our group had a great bowling party for the holidays last week. Obviously, we went off-site.”

You just had to sympathize with the plan sponsor who claimed to be located in “the most Politically Correct (PC) city in the United States. So to ensure we don’t offend anyone and make all 300 employees happy, we do the following:

  • We do not have a Christmas or Holiday party, we have a Winter Event. Nobody can argue with the calendar of seasons, but they could argue over Christmas or Holiday.
  • We hold the winter event on January 27. By having the event in January, we again confirm the event is not tied to religious or spiritual beliefs of any kind. We also do this to ensure all people may attend. In years past, many people could not attend in December because of so many other “holiday” obligations or they were just too burned out.
  • The event must be held in a neutral, nondenominational location that if unionized for employees, is not currently on strike or picketing over any labor issues.
  • We provide transportation to and from the event from our actual business location, and all local bus stops, subway, or ferry stops near the event location to encourage carpooling and use of mass transit.
  • The location must be environmental green friendly.

To coordinate this event through Human Resources is more and more challenging each year. I am working to eliminate this event completely for future years and simply giving cash or one day off with pay for our employees.”

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted, “I’d love to be able to say that just being here is a party, but often it’s more like a zoo….”

Thanks to EVERYONE who participated in our survey!  

We are having a party off-site this year. It should be noted that this is the first time our office is having a party actually during the Christmas season, because they used to not want to spend any money before we had turned in our numbers to our parent company. Last year, our "Christmas" party was February 23rd.


Survey answer: a. And it's happening today, so we're all leaving early - hurray!


b - Just having a party onsite - I'm mulling the apple cider as I type.


b. Luncheon with employee raffle (membership reward points redeemed from corporate travel card)


We not only had a lavish A (off-site party), but our department will also have a well-planned C (gnoshes).

The company party included prawn (shrimp) cocktail, mini quiches, and chicken nuggets for appetizers and then filet mignon for the main course.   There was also an open bar.   The senior member of the department loves to cook and bake and will be bringing many fine items with contributions from everyone else.   I'm told that not much work will actually get done next Friday!

Keep up the good work.


(e), because we had (a) and (c). Some of our managers have sent us delicious treats we're sharing. We also had a great holiday party at the Museum of Flight Saturday night. The Leonardo da Vinci exhibit is on display - it was neat to see it in addition to all the planes.


I work for a local government and tax payers justifiably frown on tax dollars being spent for parties. However, workers at city hall do plan their own holiday get together for a lunch hour in December (this year it's this coming Friday). Everyone signs up to bring something and department heads kick in for a ham. We have some really talented cooks and it's always interesting to see what people bring in.


e) Some combination of the above: (a) this afternoon, (b) on Friday, (c) throughout the month, and (a) again in January.  


We'll have an on-site pot-luck party next week as well as each department deciding whether to have a smaller party for their members however they choose (lunch catered in, all go out to lunch together, no get together).  

We have these more intimate work-day parties to replace a formal evening Christmas party which employees complained about having to attend.   Everyone seems happier but who can ever really tell?


C. Since our company frowns upon drinking, merrymaking or being jolly in general. We are ordering pizza for lunch and playing a game where we trade holiday ornaments. (even though we have free lunch everyday in the cafeteria and none of us needs another ornament).

Boy, do I sound like the grinch or what?


A- We celebrated the season by having a party off-site.


None of the above.    We (the HR department) have been invited (as an after thought) to one of the division's luncheons and our department head is taking us to lunch the following day.   Whoopee!


Hi Nevin - Our group had a great bowling party for the holidays last week. Obviously we went offsite. We had a buffet of great food and waiters brought us drinks (soda and beers. Not so sure about the harder stuff since I wasn't partaking.). Our company as a whole does not have a holiday party. My husband works at AOL and they have a huge company wide party offsite at the Air and Space Museum out in Dulles VA. The food is AWESOME and so is the venue.


e - Combo.

We had our official department party in-house yesterday. And then next week my (smaller) work group is going off-site for our own little party.

We already had our party - off site at a very nice restaurant with an open bar, dancing, etc. plus door prizes including airfare for two to any city in the continental U.S. (and yes, they are round-trip tickets).   Same as for several years - a very nice and well-attended party.   Anyone except members (sometimes called partners - i.e., the senior lawyer/owners of the firm) are eligible for prizes.   It's quite exciting when the winner of the grand prize is announced!   Other prizes include gift certificates for a popular chain of restaurants - Lettuce Entertain You - don't know if it's well known outside the Chicago area.   Party began at 5:30 on the day after a 15-inch snowfall blanketed the area and it was just the thing to get me in the Christmas mood!


I answer (e) because we're doing (a) twice, (b) once, (c) everyday, and - even though it's not fashionable to say it - I do believe in (d).


a) Party off-site.   Last year's was also off-site, and I believe we left work early for the event.   This year's starts at 5 pm--so there better not be a food shortage this time!


(e) Some combination of the above,

My company attempts every year to make the holidays jolly, with a completely paid off-site theatre show and dinner, as well as a company potluck within.   My company's favorite past-time seems to be food, and this fits the bill.   This is also a theme with our company--good treatment of the workers year-round.


A.   Definitely not D.


Catered holiday employee luncheon on site -- I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "party."


My answer is E with stress on C and B.   We've been gnoshing on random contributions since December 1st, but the in-office party is slated for this Thursday.   Everyone pitches in (women usually doing the cooking and men usually doing the funding) and a good time is had by all.   We always stage these on a Thursday, so we can work on the leftovers on Friday.   We have found that no one wants to eat the same stuff more than two days, so Thursday's work out well.   Everyone takes any leftovers home on Friday and the refrigerator is cleaned out for Monday's use.    Last year we also had an off-site party, but I haven't heard anything about one this year.   I think the company funds for a party may have dried up, but I found those parties were stiff and formal anyway.   At this time of year who wants to spend precious evenings with the same people you stared at all day.   Most people want to go home and spend time with spouses and children--as it should be.   Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


We are having a party off-site this year. It should be noted that this is the first time our office is having a party actually during the Christmas season, because they used to not want to spend any money before we had turned in our numbers to our parent company. Last year, our "Christmas" party was February 23rd.


Hi Nevin - our company as a whole doesn't have a party (our specific office has over 700 employees), so it's left up to each department.   In our Corp. Benefits department we have a nice lunch at a restaurant off-site, as well as lunch on-site where each person brings in home-made lunch items, and we exchange Secret Santa gifts.   In addition, we are technically part of the

larger Human Resources group, and we also participate in their all day gnoshing party (c) held the last business day before Christmas.   Things have been so hectic, it's kind of "forced time" to relax and celebrate a bit.

Happy Holidays!


A) An off-site party beginning during work hours.   It's for employees only, no spouses.   However, I estimate that at least a third of our staff (the office has approx. 55 employees), will not attend due to pressing business matters.


The company just decided to have the party at Taco Bell.   Oh yeah, and they recently brought COLI insurance policies on all the employees (or should I say e-COLI).

Actually, (b) a very lame onsite lunch.   If it's as exciting as last year's I'll be back at my desk by 12:45pm.


We will be "e"ing or should I say eating. We will have an offsite dinner and then noshing on all of the contributions which come in, usually on the last 2 days, so we can't eat them all fast enough. Then we are closed until January 2nd.


Well certainly d. applies to us (heavy on the sarcasm please).

In addition c. will apply as we provide our own refreshments for grazing one day.

We did get a present though - indefinite salary freeze.

Merry Christmas.


Our company usually has b) a party onsite.   This year, however, we will be having a) the party off site due to the current renovations of our onsite conference center.   The exact location is still up in the air because the facilities that were originally booked had the roof cave in from the weight of the snowfall we received a few weeks back.  


Having committed an ultimate faux pas at my former office (dating someone in the same office), I will be "b" at my new office and "a" with my former office mates this year.     Should be interesting....


We will be (a) just having a party off-site. However, we reside in the most Politically Correct (PC) city in the United States. So to ensure we don't offend anyone and make all 300 employees happy we do the following:

  • We do not have a Christmas or Holiday party, we have a Winter Event. Nobody can argue with the calendar of seasons, but they could argue over Christmas or Holiday.
  • We hold the winter event on January 27. By having the event in January, we again confirm the event is not tied to religious or spiritual beliefs of any kind. We also do this to ensure all people may attend. In years past, many people could not attend in December because of so many other "holiday" obligations or they were just too burned out.
  • The event must be held in a neutral, non-denominational location that if unionized for employees, is not currently on strike or picketing over any labor issues.
  • We provide transportation to and from the event from our actual business location, and all local bus stops, subway or ferry stops near the event location to encourage carpooling and use of mass transit.
  • The location must be environmental green friendly.

To coordinate this event through Human Resources is more and more challenging each year. I am working to eliminate this event completely for future years and simply giving cash or 1 day off with pay for our employees.


a) - however, this year's party will be held after lunch with employees only as opposed to the usual Friday or Saturday night with significant others.   I think the logic is more to curb the trend of people being unable to attend due to other commitments than a financial one.


BIG, formal Christmas party for the whole company; individual department luncheons going on due to personal and political issues (that's the Christmas spirit - fiscally responsible too).


Our answer is (e) some combination.   We have been munching on contributions here since slightly before Thanksgiving.   The "snack pile" was looking a bit small yesterday, and a comment was made that "somebody needs to send us something."   In past years, we have always had an offsite party on a Friday or Saturday evening to which spouses or significant others were invited.

Usually the event included a White Elephant gift exchange that was always a lot of fun.   While every year's party was nice, the last two years were extremely upscale.   This year, we are having a lunch at a very expensive restaurant at 1:30 this Friday.   We assume this means the office is closed for the rest of the day.   No spouses this time, so there seems to have been a little cutback.   Also, no White Elephant, which will make it seem a little less festive.   Oh, and no excuse to buy a new dress, either.   However, we are all looking forward to it, and already discussing what we are going to eat and drink.

And, of course, just being here IS a party.   We have put up lights and decorations, and everyone is a bit jollier with the holidays approaching. Also, all those diet precautions we used to take have been thrown to the wind, and holiday eating with reckless abandon is ON.   We'll pay for it in January, but, hey, that's next year!


At The xxx Company we will be "(b) just having a party on site".   Actually, the party begins with a luncheon on Friday the 15th sponsored by the Company.   It's just the beginning of a weeklong feast.   The following week will be one of what you call "gnoshing".   We call it "grazing".   Each day a luncheon is sponsored by either the Company's managers and outside sales personnel or our vendors.   Finally, on Friday the 22nd we will scale back a little, with an employee potluck.   Actually, that will be more food than on the previous days as the "grazing" starts at 8:00 a.m.


Our company is having a holiday celebration off-site in late January; however, our HR department is having a holiday luncheon next week where we bring in good food and have a white elephant gift exchange.   The company is also providing pies and ice cream today as an after-lunch treat.


(f) -- none of the above.   Our company stopped the company-wide Christmas party (at workers' requests) several years ago when the economy took a turn for the worse.   Now each department has its own Christmas celebration (usually lunch and usually off-site).   Our department combines a Christmas lunch with our annual department recognition ceremony.


For the first time, our group is having its own party off-site.   Unlike other years, we tagged along with a larger department.


(E) We'll be partying off-site as well as noshing on contributions (bribes?) that come in from vendors.

I'd love to be able to say that just being here is a party, but often it's more like a zoo……………………………...


e. Off site divisional party and on site departmental party, and random gnashing on whatever is brought in by vendors and staff over the holiday.


B.   This year we are having a catered luncheon instead of the usual pot-luck.   It's hard to believe that a pot-luck could be controversial but with food allergies, everyone being "too busy" to coordinate and every other possible dissenting view, we're taking an easier way out, we hope.   "Tis the season to be jolly"...


Hmmm, let me see.   I guess we qualify for (e) some combination of the above because the Company will host a party (a) tonight.   The Business Unit already did (a) last Thursday.   Our Department will have a lunch (b) in the office next week and our Team will go out to lunch as a part of team building.   NO WONDER WE GAIN WEIGHT DURING THE HOLIDAYS!

a) had an offsite party - our annual holiday luncheon which I always dread. Bland hotel ballroom food, cramped room, too much alcohol for those who can't handle it, attempts at levity by a company chorus, stale cookies for desert and the memorable mad dash to the cars at the end of the gala event. Fa-la-la-la-la


This is an interesting question for a one person office that works out of his home.   The closest answer would be (e) and then to hope to hit it lucky when calling on clients.   Oh well, happy holidays.


B) We are having a potluck that starts with   breakfast items, has snack items moves on to lunch and finishes with More snacks.   No official Christmas party.   We gave it up for not having to pay for insurance.


While I can see that office parties during this season can add a feeling of unity and camaraderie that lasts throughout the year, my boss takes it a little too far.   She uses the Christmas party as an H.R. tool.

Our Christmas party is always a big surprise.   We close down for the day.   She hires limos or a tour bus as transport.   In the past our "secret" destinations have been a restaurant with a complete casino installed, or a real game show stage where we become the contestants.   We've been whisked away to luxurious day spas.   It's always big.

The down side… she feels that memories are more important than just cash.   We get the extravagant party in lieu of a Christmas bonus.   She uses the party to promote employee longevity.  

I'm not sure I agree with the tactic.


Office party Survey - (B)& (d) while for me, every day is a party, (really!) we did just have a combination going away party(several departments are moving to a different building) holiday and floor party.   Our company expense policy does not cover party expenses so we all just brought in potluck and finally had a chance to meet others working on our floor that we had not really met in the two years we have been here!


We will be having our catered lunch with all employees at our plant.   There hasn't been an Office Party since we were acquired by our present owner 9 years ago.


(e) some combination of the above - office wide luncheon/carry-in, then departmental lunch offsite with dessert and white elephant style gift exchange (no white elephant gifts) with the obligatory continuous gnoshing with the treats everyone brings in from now until the actual holiday. It's just one continuous party!


a)   There will be a party off-site.   For the last 2 years there have been RIFs due to budget issues right before Xmas and then we spend $$ on a Xmas party.   I don't get it (nor do I go).


My answer is (b).   The festivities occur at a lunch we are "asked" to attend, however, you must pay for your own lunch if you want to eat.   How I long for the days of after work parties at private clubs with catered meals and where everyone gathers around the shrimp bowl to wish co-workers a nice holiday season.   Oh, wait, was I dreaming, no, no, Virginia, don't cry, those parties really do still exist.   In fact, they still occur at my prior employer.   Here's wishing you all happy holidays even if you have to pay for your own lunch!


A.  It is a big party.


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