TUPELO – Gone are the days of bosses passing out gift baskets to employees at the company’s Christmas party. The economy has taken care of that.
But another workplace tradition – the Christmas party – is far from dead.
Businesses in Northeast Mississippi say the party and the end-of-the-year goodies may not be as extravagant as in previous years, but they are doing what they can.
Pettigrew Cabinets, a family-owned business based in Plantersville, had its Christmas party last week. The company took its 18 employees to dinner at Harvey’s and paid for everyone’s tab, said Jennifer Pettigrew, the office manager and part of the ownership family.
“With the way the economy’s been, I can see how some people would cut back,” she said. “We’re trying to keep it as normal as possible … I don’t think we’d ever not celebrate the holidays with our employees.”
Harvey’s General Manager David Barnes said the restaurant was booked every night last week with corporate holiday parties. He said he didn’t notice any changes in the number of people in the groups or in the amount of money they spent.
But he has noticed a difference in the number of groups compared to last year.
“We haven’t been booked quite as solidly as last year,” Barnes said. “It’s about 90 percent of last year. … I think that companies are a little more reluctant to bring out the whole gang.”
Pettigrew said that even though the economy is down, the cabinet-making business has had steady orders, allowing it to continue its fellowship events.
Pettigrew Cabinets last month cooked food for the employees for Thanksgiving and has had two other cookout events during the year. The Christmas party is part of the company’s culture, she said. Stephanie Rebman 12/11/09 how many employees do they have? i’m guessing how many employees these companies have dictates what they can do/afford
“It’s not often that you get to show your appreciation to your employees,” Pettigrew said. “This is a time for all of us to get together outside the workplace.”
Joe Babb, at accounting company Eaton, Babb and Smith, echoed Pettigrew’s comments about getting together. He said the accountants had their party at a partner’s house and “basically did the same thing as last year.”
The company provided the food.
“We’re small enough that it’s not a real significant cost for us,” Babb said. “We look at it as a good investment because we can all get together. We are usually separated in three offices.”
The company has about 20 employees in Ripley, New Albany and Tupelo.
A ham for the holidays
Along with showing appreciation to employees, the holidays are a popular time to show appreciation to customers and clients.
Chauncy Godwin, owner of HoneyBaked Ham in Tupelo’s Gloster Creek Village, said Thanksgiving business was good and now the eatery is transitioning to taking holiday ham orders.
“Most are corporate gifts,” he said. “It seems to be going as well as last year. I hope it winds up being better.”
He said some of the orders are from companies buying hams for employees, but most of the orders are client gifts or families buying hams for their holiday meals.
Pettigrew Cabinets used to give hams to employees, but Pettigrew said the company now does gift cards because they’re easier to manage. Many other employers in the region have made the change, as well.
But the recession did affect Pettigrew’s end-of-the-year goodies. The company normally gives employees a monogrammed long-sleeve shirt or jacket, but Pettigrew said the company opted to forego the clothing gifts this year as a way to cut expenses.
And while Harvey’s is noticing a little decline in business as some companies cut back on their holiday plans, Barnes said the restaurant will weather the change. So far, Harvey’s year-to-date sales are up from last year, he said.
“We’re just happy to take care of everyone,” Barnes said. “It looks like it’s going to be a good holiday season for us.”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 ways to avoid disaster at your office holiday party
Author and business etiquette expert Barbara Pachter recommends people view the holiday party as they would any other business event.
Here are her five guidelines for holiday success:
1. Attend and mingle. Attendance at the company holiday party isn’t optional. Your absence will be noticed, and most likely, noted by your boss and other higher-ups. Talk to people you know and don’t know. The person that you meet at the party may ultimately be the person that will be interviewing you for your next job.
2. Dress appropriately. It may be a party, but it’s still business. Nothing too short, too low, too tight or too anything.
3. Do not get drunk. To stay sober set a limit for yourself before you go to the party. It is much easier to limit your intake that way. Or, order a drink you don’t like and sip it slowly all night. Remember it’s really easy to lose control if you have had too much to drink.
4. Pay attention to your body language. Even if the party is dull, it is bad manners to let others see how bored you are. Don’t frown, slouch, cross arms or yawn.
5. Don’t say anything negative about the party on your social media sites. This also means no posting of any unflattering photos of people on Facebook or sending tweets about someone’s unbecoming behavior.
Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal