Friday, December 21, 2007

Party Time

I've been invited to a client's holiday party, and it's actually one that I don't mind going to. The company is small, and the event it low key and not in the least "command performance," and I know and like all the people. It's held in the warm and wonderful home of the warm and wonderful CEO with his warm and wonderful wife and kids in attendance. And oh, yes, the food and wine will be great.*

But for the most part, I HATE COMPANY CHRISTMAS PARTIES, and it pained me to attend most of the ones I've gone to. (Being a large party hating introvert definitely informs my feelings here.) Too much buttering up, trashy behavior, politicking, loutishness. Too much pressure on all those poor spouses brought for show and tell purposes having to stand around listening to shop talk all night.

Not for me.

If I went at all, it was to make a guest appearance, float around a bit, eat a few shrimp, and flee into the cold, dark, winter night. (Although I will say that when the company was smaller, I tended to enjoy the parties - especially those years when they were held in January, after the holiday pressure had somewhat subsided.)

In any case, I would always have preferred the option of being given the dollar amount per capita. Unfortunately, that never happened.

So I was pleased to see a recent article  by Nicole Wong in the Boston Globe reporting on what some organizations are doing in lieu of the holiday party.

Still, it was heartening to see what some places were doing.

Instead of a party, Fallon Community Health is giving everyone Christmas Eve off. Fallon used to host a semiformal (ugh!) affair, but fewer than half of their employees were showing up. Rather than try to put the arm on people to attend - which I have seen happen - Fallon decided to give their employees something they could really use.

Lionbridge Technologies is running a potluck lunch. Last year, they took everyone out to The Chateau, an Italian restaurant near their Waltham offices where the house specialty is fried ravioli, which sounds disgusting but is actually quite good and a definite must if you ever get to one of the Chateaux, a small Massachusetts chain.

My brother-in-law works for a consulting firm that, on the day before Thanksgiving, holds a brown-bag lunch at which the long version of Alice's Restaurant is played - which strikes me as one of the more fun holiday traditions I've heard of.

According to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey of 100 HR execs cited in the article, more and more companies are making the parties employee-only: no more parading-of-the-spouses, no more dredging up a date. A lot more companies are holding the parties in the office, during the workday. (As I've always maintained, going to office party is work, so it should be held during normal business hours - or come with comp time.)

More companies are also doing away with alcohol - which is a lot easier to do when it's in the office during work hours, and which should solve a lot of par-tay related problems.

To those whose companies are giving them the day off, the $50 bucks per head, the in-the-office lunch: Congratulations! (Lucky you.)

To those who hate company parties, but whose companies continue to run the big be-there-or-else bashes: My condolences. (Better you than me.)

*This post was written pre-party. The party was Tuesday night, and I had a warm and wonderful time.


Mary Schmidt said...

As you've noted before - "forced fun" is no fun. And why is it, if you hold a holiday open house at home...the one person you really didn't want to come - shows up early and leaves late? (You had to invite him or her or the omission would have been glaring to the rest of the group.)

One of my clients holds a holiday open house (I do all the detail dolly stuff - so I know the food will be good) - very low key, good food (from a one of my client's clients, a bakery) and no big pressure. The client (a nonprofit) is also shutting down the office from Christmas Eve to Jan. 2. - a really nice thing to do since nonprofits can't/don't pay much.

Back in my last "real job" I gave my staff massage certificates (there was a masseuse downstairs) and bought them a nice, sit-down lunch (and let them go home early). They were happy - no dressing up and dragging to a hotel with the spouse.

Happy holidays to you and yours! (And, I like fried ravioli.)

katrog said...

The office party, UGH!

At one large financial services firm I worked for, we the managers were given pads of cab vouchers and were instructed to hand them out to the inebriated, which kind of really cut into our own fun quotient.

At another firm, one of our parties was held in the still under construction new offices across the street from the old offices. As I stood chatting with a co-worker beside a seven foot tall bundle of sheetrock (which was wrapped festively with red ribbon) I became aware of someone near my shoulder. I turned and my head to stare into the unfocused eyes of one of the guys from the mailroom who was drooling on my brand-new-silk-dress-clad arm.