grinch holiday parties

If companies seem a little less jolly this holiday season, it may not be your imagination. Only 65 percent of companies plan to host a party this year, according to the 2018 Holiday Party Survey Report released by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. This is the lowest number since 2009. Last year, almost 73 percent of companies held holiday parties.

It may not be because your boss is a Scrooge. In fact, the reason behind the decision may be in the best interest of the employees. With the #MeToo movement on the forefront of everyone’s mind, some human resources departments are concerned about co-workers overstepping boundaries.

“The impact of #MeToo has been overwhelmingly positive, and it’s clear the movement is spurring companies to enact important policies to protect workers—a huge boon to the business community,” says Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Other reasons for fewer holiday parties could include that a company’s workforce is primarily remote and it’s too difficult to gather for a holiday party, or perhaps companies are having parties at other times of the year.”

In October, the consultancy firm surveyed 150 human resource reps throughout the United States. Of the 65 percent of companies who are hosting parties, nearly 58 percent have or will address #MeToo with employees prior to the soiree. However, almost 27 percent of companies reported they never host a holiday party, so not holding one this year is nothing out of the ordinary.

The Party Must Go On

If you’re still interested in planning a celebration to reward employees for their year of service, there are alternatives to the traditional in-office, restaurant or bar gatherings where liquid courage may cause problems. Tripleseat’s 2018 Holiday Party Feedback Survey tallied the results of 1,100 event planners, consumers and managers from all across the country and found that 57 percent of employees have witnessed co-workers intoxicated.

“While employers feel the need to put a pause on holiday parties due to avoiding any misconduct or bad behavior, employees still want to celebrate the holidays with their colleagues,” says Latha Youngren, vice president of marketing at Tripleseat. “Offering alternatives to the traditional party that involves alcohol could be an option, such as allowing employees to bring their kids or hosting an event at a unique venue over a restaurant or bar.”

The survey shows that only 13 percent of parties are held at unique venues, although employees are really seeking out more experiential celebrations. Bowling alleys, ice and roller rinks and TopGolf are some fun alternate options. In New York City, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises and New York Water Taxi are offering private catered charters on the Hudson River.

corporate holiday parties
Photo credit: Rick Markovich

If your office would get a laugh out of tap dancing Christmas trees, political parodies and pop culture spoofs set to iconic holiday tunes, the satirical theater production of Steve Silver’s Beach Blanket Babylon Holiday Extravaganza in San Francisco offers group tickets and private performances.

The Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey discovered that almost 25 percent of companies that are holding a party this year have budgeted more than usual, thus making more funds available to afford an activity-based venue, especially if the alcohol expense is reduced.


Everyone who throws a party or event of any kind wants great attendance. Promising news on that front! Tripleseat found that 90 percent of employees attend their company’s party. One tactic to keep this rate up is to host the party during normal work hours. Some people have familial commitments or a side hustle that would prevent them from attending an evening or weekend function. However, for companies that don’t want festivities to interfere with work hours, consider inviting significant others and children to attend. If kids are coming, all the more reason to book a fun activity at a unique venue.

Celebrate Without an Official Party

Still not convinced of the benefits of hosting a holiday party? In-office desk decorating and gingerbread house building competitions can get teams in the competitive holiday spirit. Dressing in ugly holiday sweaters or pajamas on the last day of work before holiday vacation is also a hoot.

Finally, the holidays are an opportune time for companies to give back to the community. Hosting a food or coat drive, volunteering at a food bank, participating in a charitable 5K walk/run or caroling at a nursing home are just a few of the 25 ideas shared on