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Trimming the office party without cutting the fun

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Company holiday celebrations are an expression of employee appreciation and just because business may be down for the year and cutbacks loom, that doesn’t mean you should ditch the party.

“Unless they are really hurting, most companies are going to do parties, but they are paring down their budget a little bit,” says Matthew Weber, owner of the event-planning business A Swank Affair in Lake Oswego. He says his reservations so far are holding steady compared to last year.

Royce Mason feared that all the unrelenting chatter of economic gloom and doom this holiday season would mean fewer parties. Mason, owner of Royce’s Prop Shop in Portland, throws company parties for a living.


• Have your party in the office. Play holiday CDs, or decorate the office during the party.
• A catered lunch or after-work party at the office can be less expensive than a restaurant or banquet outing.
• Invite your employees and guests to your home. It can be a  friendlier atmosphere than work or a restaurant.
• If you do go offsite, parties held on any day but Saturday are generally less expensive. Consider having a “wintertime” party in January when rates may also be cheaper.

Source: businessknowhow.com

The best he hoped for heading into the busy holiday season of company parties was to stay even and not lose any of his usual clients. To his surprise, in early October reservations for his party-planning expertise were up 10% from last year. “[Businesses] want to keep things as usual,” he says.

One of Mason’s clients was reluctant to throw their usual extravagant party this year because they didn’t want to appear excessive at a time when others are hurting. Mason told the client he could scale down the event with less fancy décor and amenities. “It wasn’t so much the cost as much as what they would look like,” he says.

Mason sees more companies being environmentally conscious and demanding local vendors and products at their holiday party.

Some of Weber’s clients are taking a closer look at their alcohol budget this year, an expense that is often the largest at a company party. On average a large company easily can spend $6,000 on alcohol. This year there will not be as many open bars, he says. Other cost-saving measures include companies opting for the less expensive DJ rather than a live band.

A party could also be an optimistic beginning to a new year. Mason says he is surprised at all the calls coming in about New Year’s Eve parties.

“It gives people something to look forward to,” Weber says. “It’s a morale booster.”   


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