The Holiday Party Makes a Comeback

More employers are breaking out party hats this holiday season.

A survey of some 100 human resources professionals shows that nearly nine in 10 (89%) say their companies are planning holiday or year-end parties this year, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., an out-placement consultancy that conducted the poll.

In a strong sign of an improving economy, that percentage is up from 82% in 2012 and 68% in 2011. Nearly one in five firms (18%) plan to spend more on this year’s festivities. While most are upping their budget by less than 5%, one in three is increasing spending by 5% to 10%. Fewer than a third (29%) of respondents said their company party would be onsite, down from 55% in 2012.

Most companies held holiday parties throughout the recent economic downturn. More than one in 10 companies planned a party after one or more years of not holding a party because of a harsh economy. No companies blamed cost cuts as the reason they were not holding a party, but costs were definitely on people’s minds: More than two out of every three companies surveyed (76%) were budgeting the same amount for this year’s party as for last year’s.

Among other findings:

  • Almost two out of three (65%) of companies plan to hold their party during or near the end of the workday;
  • More than a third planned their party for an evening or weekend;
  • About 60% of companies are relying on a caterer, event planner or other outside service to plan and execute their year-end function;
  • Just over 40% plan to serve alcohol; and
  • Slightly more than half the companies invited only employees, though almost a third of firms (29%) were also inviting staffers’ spouses, family members or partners.