Smaller celebration = greater return

To party or not to party? The giant, over-the-top company holiday party trend that used to be a fixture on year-end calendars appears to be gone thanks to the belt-tightening of the past few years. The new outlook sees many companies scaling back on glamorous events and instead hosting something realistic in size and scope.

With the economy less shaky, the good news is companies are not canceling events as they were a few years ago, according to Robert Half International’s Office Team division, which conducts an annual office party survey. Companies are leaning towards modest activities such as the traditional potluck lunch or after-hours party at the office versus the traditional trend of a big night on the town filled with five-course meals and big-band dancing.

According to preliminary results from the annual Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. 2012 holiday party survey, close to 83% of 100 human resource managers said their companies are opting to host “something controlled.” American Express OPEN, which reports annually on where business owners are in terms of gift giving, employee bonuses and holiday parties, this year states small businesses will be leaning more towards the “Santa” than “Scrooge” philosophy, although they will be spending less than in the past.

Also high on the trend chart is the idea of donating to a charity, whether it be through monetary donations, in-kind contributions or a donation of time. Incorporating a charitable element or hosting a volunteer drive as part of a corporate responsibility program is timely and a real feel-good for all involved!

BizBash offers the following five trends shaping company parties this year:

1. Over-the-top holiday parties are gone.
2. Receptions versus seated affairs where people can come and go as they please are popular.
3. There is a focus on what’s being served. (Quality versus quantity)
4. Raw venues are out; ready-to-go, pre-decorated spots are in.
5. Hosting parties by department instead of for the entire organization is a trend pulse. 

Whatever your budget, the overall theme for 2012 is still frugality over free spending, quality over quantity and employee appreciation rather than showing off. Big and boisterous is clearly out, and in the end, showing and sharing gratitude will add just as much festivity to your office or department, which, when all is said and done, I am sure you’ll agree only makes us better professionals! 

I’d enjoy hearing what you’re doing to spread the festive message amongst your staff. Are you celebrating in or outside the office? Simple or elaborate? And what traditions, if any, are you planning? Cheers!