SURVEY SAYS: Will You Have an Office Holiday Party This Year?

December 9, 2010 ( - Tis the season, as they say – for the office/workplace holiday party. 

This week, I asked readers if they were having one (or more) at their workplace – if they planned to attend – and what kind of event (if any) it would be.

Most of this week’s respondents will be having some kind of event; just over half (52.1%) said yes, another 22.3% not only said yes, but indicated there would be more than one, and roughly one-in-ten indicated that, while there wouldn’t be an office party per se – there would certainly be some kind of “do.” 

Among those responses:

No party, but our regular company-sponsored quarterly luncheon will be a bit more festive.

Christmas Lunch during regular lunch time

The company isn’t having a party but my team decided to go out to lunch together.

Not really a party…but a “gathering” at a local brewery….spouses (significant others) not invited.

My team is going out for dinner ..

Our company does not have a holiday party, they have an awards party to give bonuses to the 20 or so employees deserving from the staff of about 1100

Already had one for the corporate office this past Friday.

Not really a party, but a “cocktail hour” at a local restaurant right after work   

Of course, the remaining 14% either said “no”, or weren’t sure – as was the case with the reader who noted, “December 8th and my Company has still not decided if there will be any kind of holiday party.”

I asked readers if they would be attending the aforementioned festivities, and while not everyone was thrilled at the prospect (most seemed to be, however), roughly 80% said they would be (including one-in-five who were planning to attend more than one). 

As for the agenda for the festivities, most (71.9%) said “lunch.”  Other favorites included (more than one response was allowed): 

36.6% - Dinner

33.9% - Gift exchange

11.3% - Punch and cookies

In the “other” category were the following:

open bar and appetizers, stay for dinner and you have to pay for it yourself

For the HR group, it will be a lunch, usually a very nice get together for the department.  For the company, the CEO / majority owner puts on a large Christmas party including a higher profile entertainer followed by a reception.  This event is always well done.

Whirlyball and Laser Tag

Bad Christmas sweaters

We have a company-wide party which is an evening dinner.  The second is a department party with pizza for lunch.

This was the corporate office party.  Instead of a gift exchange, our department supports a charity each year.  This year we will participate in preparing and serving lunches with a local food distribution organization.

Gift Raffles.

we are actually offering beer and wine this year which means either we had a really good year this year or we all need a drink before we take on next year.

We had ours last weekend.  It was cocktails (open bar) & hors d'oeurves for an hour, dinner, service awards & a humorous presentation then dancing.  It was held at a nearby resort.

and.....yikes!!!    I really dislike group games!  Bah-humbug!

Ornament exchange

cocktails and snacks

There will be games along with a "White Elephant" exchange to keep us occupied so as not to drink too many adult beverages, but that won't work for the sales folks.

Additional "Others"

Potluck. Company supplies the entree (meat).

They are having a pot-luck lunch in our staff lounge.  Woo hoo.

Company provided lunch and early dismissal/


The EXACT SAME buffet dinner that we have had for the last four years. I'm starting to think that five years ago they got a bulk price discount.

Ugly holiday sweater contest.

We are having a gift exchange.  Looking forward to bringing the gift everyone wants and getting the one no one wants.

Departmental lunch and company-wide holiday breakfast for 350 totally arranged by me, including service awards, savings bonds, talent show, etc.


It's a pizza  lunch. No alcohol, just pizza, salad and soda. Each manager pays for their own reports. Just a way to get together more then anything else.

"Dancing via DJ music

Drawings for gift baskets

Additional "others":

Casino Games"

Entertainment consisting of strolling magicians and the presentation of our charity fund raising efforts to the local Ronald McDonald House.

The office party this year will be on-site (prior years' were at local upscale venues) and significant others are not invited.  It will include plenty of alcohol and food.  There will be multiple raffles and the gifts are generally very nice.  I don't expect dancing to be available (not that there was much call for this in the past but it was great for entertainment purposes especially after folks had a few drinks!).

A party at a small restaurant - we'll take over the place for a few hours - sort of a cocktail party with lots of food & drink 

Most years we have a white elephant gift exchange and collect items for a family identified by a local non-profit.  This year we decided to move on to some new activities -- we will be assembling care packages for military people serving in Afghanistan.  Employees have been asked to donate some of the items in the care packages and the company will provide the rest.  In addition we have organized a "photo" game.  Employees have been asked to provide a photo of a family member who has served in the military (U.S. or foreign) as well as a few sentences about the individual and their relationship to the employee.  Employees will compete to see who can match the most photos to the employee relative.  As we only have 38 employees this is quite doable.






For the first time in 10 years, spouses or significant others are invited.

Our company kicks in a $ amount for each employee, but rather than individual depts having their own party, our entire Wealth Mgt group will have one that includes heavy hors d'oeurves.  However, our dept also had a party that included the same at a nice hotel that was paid for by the managers.  Great weather, near the infinity pool with a view of the beach and ocean - it was wonderful!

Dinner, cocktails, and charity casino games

No word on open bar yet but there better be! 

As for some general observations on workplace holiday parties:

 Because everyone's schedule is so busy this time of year we decided to try something different.  We will be having lunch with a gift exchange instead of the usual evening party and gift exchange.

We already had our party and the tone was more somber than past years due to our current financial crisis.

It's like pulling teeth to get anyone to want to have a party at work.  We used to bring in food and decorate, and now no one can be bothered.  It's Bah Humbug all year.  We used to do a spring party and holiday party and we haven't done those in years.  Everyone gets so wrapped up in their own lives and making sure their kids are doing 10 things at a time that they don't care about anyone at work.  Sad.

Generally, a waste of time and money.

"My office used to hold a Thanksgiving potluck, but fewer and fewer people would attend.  We're all ""work at home"" now, and it's hard to get some folks out of their home offices and back to the office site for something like this.  My wife's office is much more traditional, and they do have a very nice holiday party, but they don't hold it until January or February since everyone is so busy in December.  But the bonus is that by then they can talk BONUS because they know how well they've done, so it's a double celebration!"

Ours will be an in-house luncheon with catered fast food Italian.  Oh boy, I can't wait...

Best decision our department made a few years ago to participate in a charitable activity as a group rather than take time out for a party and gift exchange.  We get a lot more out of it and don't have to worry about buying and wrapping a gift that usually no one really wants.

Raffle off excellent wine bottles and a couple weekend get aways.  Everyone received a $100 American Express Gift Card.

All of our directors and upper-level management have an all day meeting in December.  The staff at all locations will be having a "fun" day while the owners are gone.  My location will be having breakfast, then lunch which is delivered, then in the afternoon it's dessert, coffee and a yankee swap. 

We have the potluck during work lunch hours. Then the company hosted a nice dinner for employees and a guest on the Saturday before Christmas. Tough economic times stopped the offical holiday party outside the office to save $8000.00. One of the executives had a cocktail party at her home, but that was discontinued after some bad behavior. One person did not know good social manners, he had rabid views and felt the need to loudly tell them to all. Another brought their own beverage and after drinking went to sleep on the executive's sofa.

This year they even skipped putting up the usual decorations. It's pretty bleak!

During the day -- no alcohol, just employees, no family member.

I think a lot of employees enjoy our party but I know there are always complaints as well. We close the company and take people offsite for a nice party one afternoon. They get out of work, get to leave early and still complain. I don't understand some people.

"For years I had to go to these parties out of a sense of obligation.  I hate them.  I'm now in a position where I don't have to go any more, so I don't.   - E Scrooge IV"

We will have a company-wide off-site dinner, awards, prizes and dancing on Saturday, Dec 11th.  However, we have an in-house department lunch where everyone brings a dish and we draw names.  You buy a toy that reminds you of the person and tell why it reminds you of them.  Then all the toys are donated to a Toys for Tots organization. It not only gathers toys for children who might not have many, but also helps everyone to get to know their coworkers.

Our department had it's annual "party" yesterday at our quarterly in-person meeting.  Had lunch brought in and a white elephant exchange.  It was fun.  The branch I work at has a nice dinner at a local country club - the last couple of years we've had it in January, which is nice.  Haven't received a "save the date" yet, so I hope we have one this year!

We limit our liability by not mandating attendance and by only offering two drink coupons (beer, wine, soft drinks) to employees.

Free food!  Can't pass that up!

Holiday parties come with holiday accidents that come with increased premiums and potential law suits

We don't serve alcohol at the Holiday parties on our campus.  We have carollers for the site party, and we play holiday trivia games at the department party, where we do a "white elephant" gift exchange.  It is a great time to have some fun and laugh.  That's what the holiday parties should be about.

We had a "Secret Santa" gift exchange this year, $10 max. No gift cards - you had to use your imagination (or be a really good shopper).  Some people didn't understand the concept and still want to know "who had my name".  Combined with the holiday party (we had ours early so we could include those celebrating Hanukkah) it was a really enjoyable time - especially since we were "off campus" and not at work!

I probably would not go even if we had one, so I am not disappointed that we don't.

Haven't had an office party since 2007; Management has no valid excuse for not having one this year...




Some of MY favorite comments were:

It's the annual opportunity to see your overweight coworker in a black velvet miniskirt, your sagging coworker in a too low-cut evening dress, your single coworker embarrassed by the date who gets drunk, and others who end up seated for dinner with someone whose spouse spouts off about their political views, ailments, all the details of their childrens' daily activities and other unmentionable topics.  Hopefully, you can still spend some time with coworkers who are good "company".

It'll be interesting. For January 1, 2011, we're preparing major benefit & pay changes and payroll is completing the implementation of an entirely new, fully-integrated payroll/hr/hris system. Though we're in the same department, we're not "friends" of late (I trust there are readers nodding in empathy, and yeah, for the uninitiated, it's akin to a reality tv version of the delivery room with 1st time parents). Hopefully the brief respite will bring about a sense of the season, a momentary break in the tensions and good will wishes for a collaborative final push.

In my younger years I would join a group of colleagues in staying until the end of the holiday party (which once included a loud group singalong of Paradise by the Dashboard Lights). Next we would move to the hotel bar until that closed. One year we proceeded to someone's room to hit up the person's mini bar after the hotel bar closed. I just can't do that anymore.

We already had our holiday party. Apparently everything is a lot more affordable (meaning less fun) if you celebrate on a day that in no way approaches the actual date of the holiday. Perhaps we could hold next years party this weekend and save even more.

It is unfortunate that the Holiday party comes during the Holidays, since it is the busy season for HR and Benefits.

It is the one time of the year that  everyone  puts on their CEO smiles and is nice.   I am already used to everyone as they are and like them better the way they normally act.

A couple years ago they instituted a Dirty Santa game, where you bring a gift worth $20 or less (new or used) to give away.  While this seems fun, two years ago someone chose to throw in an adult toy of sorts and we all had the joy of laughing uncomfortably as our boss chased everyone around with it.  As you can tell, I'd rather stay home and pluck lint off the carpet than go this year...if it weren't for office politics I doubt anyone would show up.

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted, “I always look forward to our holiday lunches.  I work with some really great people, and it's nice to have a chance to celebrate this season with them.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!