Saturday, December 8, 2012

Puttin’ on the ritz: Christmas parties sure aren’t what they used to be


Earlier yesterday in the office, I jotted off a quick message to my friend Pen & wished her a good weekend.  I said my work-group was having their holiday party tonight, but I wasn’t going.

Friends & coworkers:  Erin, Kathy, Danielle & Gwen are celebrating the holidays with pickle-back shots

Anyway, I explained that it was just an informal gathering at some watering hole for an extended Happy Hour (I forgot to mention that there may be some bowling afterwards).  And while I feel pretty close to this crew, I’m just not a bar guy.  Pen replied that she felt the same way, and a dinner in a nice restaurant would’ve been a nice idea, or even one of those Gateway Clipper dinner cruises.  (The Gateway Clipper is a fleet of five riverboats that travel up & down the Monongahela year-round, providing dinner & dancing.)  I agreed, but truth be told it’s been a long week—it was black & raining outside—and I was more than ready to just go home, throw on a pair of soft pajama bottoms and flop down on the couch with my tv remote in one hand & a fried egg sandwich in the other.  

It got me to thinking though, about the holiday parties I used to attend in the 1990s.  Man, things sure were different then!  From 1989-1998 I worked for a small but prestigious consulting group, Omega Systems.  And every year, they would host these HUGE Christmas parties for both their employees and their clients (making the event more like a business presentation—it was strongly suggested you be there).  In fact, one year my date (a fellow Omega employee) had one too many & proceeded to ask where the timeclock was, she was ready to punch out and go home.  

I never minded going one bit though—I loved ‘em.  They were huge, lavish affairs that spared no expense.  And aside from one noisome year (when it was held downtown at the Omni-William Penn & I dragged my poor sister Shawn along), they were always at the LeMont, a pricey restaurant on Mt. Washington with great floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the city.  

If you’re fortunate enough to dine at the Lemont, be sure to send one of their ‘Wish you were here’ postcards to family & friends!

There would always be a small jazz combo (for mingling) and later a full-blown dance orchestra.  Omega would hand out pricey gift-bags or holiday baskets afterwards, and while I would probably wrinkle my nose at all that opulence today, at the time I was just some country bumpkin who was new to the city, and excited to have my own business cards & be surrounded by all that bourgeois wealth.  Do companies even do this anymore? 

Well, that was fifteen years ago and I probably earned less than half of what I make today; I no longer wear a suit to the office, heck I don’t even have to be IN the office five days a week; but things sure felt a lot more successful then!  (Oh and for the record—a pickleback is a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle brine; who knew?)  And on that festive note… 

Merry Christmas, Everyone


  1. That's a great point, Doug. Corporations just don't seem willing to set aside the budgets for this sort of thing anymore, and employees don't want to go. We'll be having our holiday party next Friday night at a local Italian restaurant. We're lucky to get it, because prior to last year, we didn't get one for several years.

  2. Wow, those Omega parties sound so posh. We only once had a fancy dress party for Christmas which then transformed into a simpler, let's go to the pub or diner across the street type of thing.

    Thanks for letting me know what a pickleback is. :) Merry Christmas Doug. Is this your last post before the holidays?

  3. Thanks Pam, I think you're right about corporations these days and this sort of thing, our "official company holiday party" last year was a catered lunch of chicken and rigatoni. What I want to know is--what happened to Christmas bonuses?? ;)

    And Chelly, yes those Omega parties were HUGE, HUGE posh! Our company wasn't that big either but I think it was Omega's way of advertising for new clients as well. At the same time, they were always full of affection & cheer.

    As for this being the last blog before Christmas, it may be--this is my very busiest time of year at work. If I don't talk to you again soon ladies, hope you both have a wonderful holiday. :)

  4. I agree my old company used to throw huge xmas parties and block off rooms at the hotel it was at. But as they got bigger they stopped. PS That pickle back was yummmmmmmmy

  5. Hey Kathy, thanks for chiming in here--very interesting! Thanks for the use of your face here, and glad you enjoyed that--cough--pickle brine ;)

  6. In Europe a lot of companies still do big X-mas parties for employees. If you cancel it, people immediately think the firm is going under.

    Flying to Tokyo tomorrow, they don't really celebrate X-mas there. But New Year's fireworks are supposed to be pretty ace!

  7. Iikka, thanks for sharing that--very interesting. And have a good trip, man you sure get around!

  8. I am visiting professor in Yokohama.

  9. Hi. I saw your blog in the "recent traffic" stat, and I'd like to tell you thank you, for posting out SWPARE blogspot link. Now to read some of your post....


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