Office Christmas Parties Are Up

Office Christmas parties are on the rise

‘Tis the season, and the number of firms holding office Christmas parties are up. In fact, according to BattaliaWinston, a leading global executive search firm, corporate holiday parties are near an all-time high. That’s good news for restaurants and pubs.

The 25th annual survey of corporate America’s holiday party plans show promising numbers: “An astonishing 96 percent of the companies polled will have parties this year – this is the highest percentage since 1997 – up from 91 percent in 2012, 74 percent in 2011, 79 percent in 2010, 81 percent in 2009 and 81 percent in 2008.”

Remember the boom years of 1996 and 1997? The holiday party survey recorded the highest percentages of companies hosting holiday parties (97%) in both of those years, and this survey tends to serve as an indicator for the economy as a whole.

Reasons to Celebrate

Boosting employee morale led the survey list of reasons to hold an office holiday party (42 percent) with celebrating 2013 as a good year scoring just a few percentage points lower. Of the four percent not celebrating with an office holiday party, half reported the reason as “not being in the budget” while the other half felt it was “politically inappropriate.”

Speaking of budgets, of the companies holding parties, only six percent reported planning more lavish parties than in the past with ten percent reporting plans for a reduced party budget. The vast majority reported the budget will be the same as before.

Crain’s New York Business “Corporate holiday parties are back” reports that the Waldorf Astoria is once again booming with holiday parties. Executive director of catering, James Blauvelt is quoted as saying, “This year is the first year since 2007 that we’ve seen a significant change in interest and demand—demand we can’t even accommodate. We haven’t been at the front of the roster for these parties for several years, because if you lay off people and you are having a party at the Waldorf, that doesn’t look good, but those firms are back at our door.”

That turn of events is certainly good news for the Waldorf Astoria, but it’s also good news across the industry… even for less lavish venues and restaurants. Although companies may not spring for champagne and caviar, they are opening wallets to host parties.

Tips for Office Christmas Parties

Avoiding office talk and office politics are important factors in a successful office holiday party, and getting “out of the office” for the party helps certainly helps on that front.

Selecting a restaurant or pub for the office holiday party is a great choice: no employees are tasked with preparing or cleaning up. More importantly, there is professional control of alcohol. (Allowing employees to bring their own beer, wine or alcohol to a party held in the office can be a recipe for career disaster and a liability for the company as well.)

As a restaurateur or pub owner, emphasize those benefits in your promotions. While it’s late in the game for this year, keep an eye on the economy for 2014. Office Christmas parties are up for this year, reflecting the economy, and indicators are good that the upward trend will continue.