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Office party

Sharon Dominick

The recession may be ending, but employers are not pulling out the stops for their yearend holiday bashes.

In fact, fewer organizations even plan to hold holiday parties this year, Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. found in its annual survey of employers in the United States.

"While the economy is beginning to show signs of possible recovery, many companies will remain cautious when it comes to spending," the Chicago-based human resources firm said.

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"Evidence of this continued frugality is seen in a new survey showing that fewer companies are planning holiday parties this year and, among those that are, nearly one in three is budgeting less for the event."

The firm reported that 62 per cent of the 100 companies surveyed plan to hold parties this year, down from 77 per cent a year ago - most likely because it's tough to get in the mood to party when so many have been laid off.

"For companies that have recently announced layoffs or other significant cost-cutting measures, such as wage freezes, it would be difficult to justify, let alone get in the mood for a holiday party," John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in releasing the survey results.

For those companies that do plan to party on, "the most popular theme is likely to be low-profile, low-budget," the firm reported.

The majority of those planning parties still intend to hold the festivities offsite, and 57 per cent are planning to serve alcohol.

"However, only 36 per cent of companies are using a caterer, event planner or other outside service, suggesting that more employers may be organizing smaller, departmental potluck events, in which attendees are asked to bring food and beverages."

So party on, dude, but BYOB.

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