DENNIS SEID: Holiday office parties

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

Journal Inc., the parent company that owns the Daily Journal, several weeklies in Northeast Mississippi, some newspapers in west Tennessee and the Mississippi Business Journal, held its annual Christmas luncheon last week.
A month earlier, we had our annual Thanksgiving luncheon.
Those two gatherings are the only times most of us can get together in one location. With several hundred employees separated by hundreds of miles, it’s hard to get us all together.
But food is a great magnet.
You could call it an office party, I suppose, but it really wouldn’t be accurate.
We share a potluck meal, hear a few speeches, pass out awards, give away prizes, recognize new employees and veteran employees and swap a few stories.
But it’s not a balloon-and-confetti affair with blaring music and horrid dancing. No Gangnam-style parodies, sorry.
On the other hand, the Society for Human Resource Management said recent surveys show more offices nationwide are planning office parties during the holidays.
According to the Chicago Tribune, “Event planners, businesses, caterers and disc jockeys have been feeling the optimism, something they and the human resources group say is a sign that businesses are doing better – and feeling better – as the economy begins to recover.”
Never mind the fiscal cliff or the Mayan doomsday prediction, right?
A Bloomberg BNA survey found that a little less than three-fourths of businesses would throw a year-end party this year, slightly down from its 2011 survey. A National Association of Catering Executives study found more than 55 percent of its member catering businesses believe overall corporate holiday event business will increase this holiday season from last.
SHRM also said the majority of companies kept scaled-back versions of what were once extravagant events. About 72 percent will host parties this year, compared to 68 percent last year. In 2009 and 2010, 61 percent of companies held parties.
Clearly, some companies canceled parties altogether. And many of those that did throw office holiday parties cut costs by paring back on expenses.
So maybe less champagne and caviar, more Spam and Saltines.
There are some things you should do – and not do – during an office holiday party. From various sources:
• Know the dress. Don’t dress like an elf to a black-tie affair.
• Don’t drink too much.
• Be prepared for small talk.
• If there’s karaoke, participate. Or maybe not.
• If you see the company’s CEO, don’t lecture him on how you’d run things differently.
• It’s OK to be the first person to the party. Don’t be the last to leave.
• Unless you have two hours to spare talking about the BCS championship, avoid any Alabama or Notre Dame fan.

Contact Business Editor Dennis Seid at or (662) 678-1578.

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