All Articles Food Holiday parties are back on the menu

Holiday parties are back on the menu

3 min read


Tis the season to party and companies are starting to do just that again, according to a new survey from executive search firm Battalia Winston, which found 96% of U.S. companies will throw holiday parties this year. That’s up from a post-recession low of 74% in 2011 and nearly on par with the all-time high of 97% hit in the boom years of 1996 and 1997.

Some 42% of respondents say they’re throwing a shindig to boost employee morale while 38% profess to partying in celebration of a good year for the company, a statistic that dovetails with the separate finding that 70% of companies surveyed said they’re on track to grow and hire next year.

Still, most companies aren’t socking in cases of champagne and tins of caviar for the occasion — 83% said they’ll stick to the same budget as last year and 10% plan to spend less on this year’s parties. Only 18% of companies are including employees’ significant others and families in the invitation, and 47% of the parties will be luncheons versus the 43% of soirees that will be evening affairs.

The shift toward less pricey midday parties is growing, and it follows one of event planner Stacy McGuigan’s tips for showing employees they’re appreciated without breaking the bank, as reported. She even suggests the possibility of a breakfast party, if the budget is really low. “Food is less expensive and you won’t have a bar bill,” she said.

Speaking of bar bills, 28% of companies don’t plan to offer alcohol at their parties at all this year. Those that do plan to include a bar may want to limit it to a signature cocktail plus beer and two kinds of wine to keep costs under control, McGuigan advised.

The Battalia Winston survey didn’t delve into how  many planned parties will be held in restaurants and other off-site venues, but there’s some other evidence that parties away from the office are picking up this year. Party bookings at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center at Oregon State University are rebounding, and the venue is seeing a rise in both new inquiries and repeat bookings, director Richelle Hayes told the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel is seeing its first major rebound in party reservations since 2007, catering director James Blauvelt told Crain’s New York Business. “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,” he said. “But those firms are back at our door.”

Is your restaurant booked up for holiday parties? Are clients spending more, less or about the same as previous years? Are you seeing more parties planned for earlier in the day? Tell us in the comments.