The demise of the office party

The holiday season is rarely festive at the publishing company where I hold down the full-time editing job that provides a little less than half my yearly income. For one thing, the publisher has never passed out holiday bonuses. The powers that be instead provide free coffee all year long and cheap pop. That’s not a lie: The pop machines dispense cans for 40 cents apiece. That’s a bargain. And to me, it might be worth it: I’m a big pop drinker.

Secondly, my employer does not hold any official holiday parties. Fine by me. I’ve never been a fan of forced socialize with the higher-ups. It’s not my thing. And finally, you can always count on getting the official memo on Jan. 2 — or whatever day people return to work — reminding employees to remove all holiday decorations from their desks. Ho, ho, ho!

Well, it turns out that my employer — which is actually a good one, despite the odd quirk or two — is far from alone in curtailing the holiday cheer. A story in the Chicago Tribune, which you can read here,  reports on a survey from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. According to the story, almost 25 percent of companies aren’t holding holiday parties this year. That number stood at only 10 percent last year.

It seems as if there are a lot of Grinches out there. Is a cutback in holiday parties, though, really such a bad thing? I don’t know about you, but while I like my office mates, I don’t really want to party with them. I’m a firm believer in keeping your friends and your co-workers separate. And if that means the end of the annual holiday party? So be it. I really don’t want to hear about the boss’ planned ski vacation anyway.