Why more employers are nixing holiday parties

Say it ain't so, Santa! Despite the improving U.S. economy, employers are less likely to throw holiday parties this year than they were before the Great Recession.

According to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, just two-thirds of companies said they planned to host a party for employees this year. And 3 in 10 said they had no plans whatsoever to throw a holiday gathering, a big jump from three years ago, when just 17 percent of companies turned thumbs-down on annual merriment.

What's got some companies feeling so Scrooge-like? It's not the economy. This year, as Bloomberg notes, only 6 percent of respondents cited budget constraints as a reason for cutting the party, down from 20 percent in 2009, at the height of financial crisis austerity.

Rather, companies seem to reacting to the calls of employees, who express little interest in going to the annual shindigs. Caught up in all there is to do around the holidays, workers often find they're simply too busy to attend.

"Maybe they realized that nobody seems to be missing these," Evren Esen, director of survey programs at SHRM, told Bloomberg.

Another reason workers avoid office parties is they're, well, boring. Many have had a year's worth of office socializing and simply don't need another reason to hang out with co-workers.

Companies are also limiting the amount of alcohol and offering games to keep workers entertained, a bow to the sensibilities of millennials, who now comprise the largest generation in the workforce.

Too much alcohol can of course lead to embarrassing behavior and nobody wants to be the latest "star" on social media. And it's precisely that kind of instant scrutiny that companies want to avoid when they decide just how big a bash they want to throw.

"An out-of-control party isn't an image that any organization wants to project," Jay Starkman, CEO of HR firm Engage PEO, tells the New York Post. "And the fact that social media can create headlines so quickly may be a reason why holiday parties are more restrained than in years past," he says.

Not everyone, however, is feeling more cautious, especially in Silicon Valley. Facebook went all out this year with a Roaring '20s theme, replete with flappers, acrobats and plenty of ornate Jazz Age decor. As BusinessInsider notes, Facebook employees have plenty to celebrate, including growing the social network's audience to 1 billion daily users.

Flywheel, an Omaha, Nebraska, website and design company that employs 27, has been holding annual holiday parties since it was "just the three co-founders," co-founder Dusty Davidson told the Omaha World-Herald. The company provides all the food and beverages -- and pays for Uber rides home, he said.

"Last year we rented out a restaurant and then hopped on a bus for a tour of Omaha dive bars," Davidson said.

Still keen on going to your office party? Patt Denning, a therapist who counsels on alcohol-related issues, offers this advice via NPR on how not to overdue it: Decide ahead of time how much you should drink.

Also, be sure to eat ahead of the party and "make a pact with yourself or with somebody else to take a break before each drink," Denning says.