Should We Pull the Plug on Holiday Parties?

Last Updated Oct 30, 2008 1:58 PM EDT

317351025_dc22967503_m.jpgAccording to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas press release that hit my inbox recently, the Scrooge factor is at work in corporate America these days.

The executive-outplacement firm did a survey that found almost a quarter of businesses are planning to pull the plug on holiday parties this year, primarily due to corporate budget-cutting as the economy continues to sour.

Last year, 90 percent of firms were still planning holiday celebrations; in 2008, however, only 77 percent said they would be handing out champagne on the company dime.

Among those having parties, more than half will do it during the workday or near the end of the workday, and nearly two-thirds are inviting employees only.

Now, I've never been one to eagerly mark the days until a company holiday shindig. I've been to my share of pathetic parties -- cheap wine in a Dixie cup, anyone? -- as well as those that were embarrassing paeans to excess. (I recall one dot-com-boom-era fiesta held at San Francisco's glitzy City Hall that featured an open, fully stocked bar, three bands, and a black-tie optional dress code. It was way, way fancier than my own wedding.)

But whether they're modest affairs or monster blowouts, holiday get-togethers have one thing in common: They're supposed to be a recognition and thank-you for all the hard work employees are doing. Cutting corners by cancelling a party entirely is a morale-killer of the highest caliber, in my opinion. With belts tightening everywhere, bonuses and raises getting squashed, and layoffs looming every week, the least companies can do is offer a little fun in a sea of stress.

What's your take?

[poll id=26]

(image by D'Arcy Norman via Flickr, CC 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.