Holiday Parties Staging a Comeback This Year

One of the staples of 20th-century business stories was the rowdy and expensive Christmas party. Even into the first decade of the 21st century, some companies went all out and then some.

Holiday celebrations appear to have been toned down appreciably (or at least they’re no longer widely publicized for their expense and revelry). But they are making a comeback.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas recently polled 250 U.S. human resources representatives across the country in its annual survey of holiday party plans. Nearly 7% more companies are planning a holiday party this year than had one last year, and 76% of all the firms surveyed are planning to hold a party this year.

Last year, 65% of companies surveyed gave a holiday party, the lowest percentage since 2010, when just 64% of firms threw a holiday party.

Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, commented, “While several indicators suggest companies may be concerned about the economy in the coming year, that concern does not appear to extend to the company holiday party.”

Compared with last year, companies were generally less enthusiastic about the economy. Nearly 40% said the 2019 economy was better than last year, but in 2018, 63% of those surveyed said the economy was better than in the previous year. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed this year said the economy had not improved in 2019, compared to just 9% who said the same thing last year.

Challenger offered another comment on this year’s holiday party plans: “Companies are ready to celebrate this year after a low-key 2018. It doesn’t appear that companies are holding the lavish parties of the 1980s and 1990s, and post-Great Recession, and even post-#MeToo, those days may be long gone.”

The company asked respondents if their companies had concerns about “inappropriate celebrating” as a result of #MeToo. More than a quarter (26%) said they had either already discussed the issue with “staff” or would do so prior to this year’s party. Another third said they had addressed the issue in the past year, and 38% said they’d never addressed the issue and had no plans to do so.

Corporate tax cuts and rising profits likely have boosted interest in having a holiday party this year, Challenger noted. He also observed that the good times may not keep rolling: “While there may be a coming slowdown that could impact next year’s festivities, this year employees will party.”

If you’re looking for party ideas, how about some chocolate goodies? These are the best chocolate shops in America.