I attended a Holiday Party this week. I mean, I think it was a party...
This is not an article on the validity of the War on Christmas or the value of replacing the word Christmas with Holiday. No this is business. And about a business Holiday party where not only was "Christmas" removed from the party, the partying was removed from the party. And the fun.
Dickens knew how to throw a party - at least on paper he did. When I think of Christmas parties, I think of A Christmas Carol's Fezziwig: young Ebenezer Scrooge's jovial boss. OK, I guess I think of Mr. Magoo's version first but I grew up with that Christmas Carol classic and still put "razzleberry dressing" on my morning toast. The point is that those were real Christmas parties back then. Plenty of food and spirits, music and dance, mistletoe and egg nog, and no liabilities. There was no drunk driving because everyone walked there - or perhaps rode a carriage pulled by a sober horse.
At the Holiday party I attended, few wore anything "Christmasy," not a single Andy Williams or Bing Crosby song was played, no one quoted their favorite line from "Elf," and a basketball game - not It's a Wonderful Life - played on the TVS in the room. It was just a room of well dressed folk. Men in suits, women in their LBDs. No rich foods, no candy ribbon. Just a cash bar with people exchanging cards and talking shop. It should have been billed "Business Meeting that just happened to take place in December."
I left at midnight less festive and more festering, longing for when Christmas parties were just that. I understand the need or rather inspiration for the name change to Holiday party. But these business parties are no longer much fun. Our corporate culture has made sure of it.
Last year, I wrote about the dangers of going wild at the company holiday party. But I understand why some people need to overcompensate for the bore-fests they've become. I'm not much of a drinker but if I was I don't think the lack of alcohol (or conversely the cash bar) is really to blame for my bah humbugs. Nor do I fault making it inclusive to all beliefs. For me, it's the lack of anticipation that falls short. It just appears on the corporate calendar one day without input from the staff. It's viewed as an obligation rather than a gift. Like the Valentines Day card you give your partner when you both know the relationship's over. Depressing right? Just like the "gift" of a poorly planned company Holiday Party.
I think we need to provide a Holiday party with the true spirit of giving or avoid giving one at all. Make it memorable and something to look forward to, or avoid it altogether. I'd rather have a gift basket filled with holiday cheer, than a party where we all question why we attended in the first place.
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