Holiday Parties Are Back But Don't Expect Fist-Sized Shrimps, Multi-Generational Orgies

Two words that do not a mood make: drink tickets.

Back in the day, as in prior to the financial crisis, office holiday parties could be counted on to include a number of things: a never-ending flow of the best booze money could buy, seafood towers galore, lines of coke as far as they eye could see, the smiling faces of employees who knew they would be receiving a generous cash bonus, and black cars waiting outside to whisk everyone to Marquee and Scores after that. Then the global financial crisis hit and person considered himself lucky if his firm ponied up for a bag of chips per employee in the conference room. According to a new report, though, things are slowly, tentatively coming back, but you'd do well to keep your expectations vis-à-vis alcohol-fueled mating rituals between analysts and partners, and other such debauchery, in check.

A survey from Challenger, Gray & Christmas found 89 percent of companies were planning holiday parties at the end of last year, up from 82 percent in 2012 and just 68 percent in 2011. But Addison noted today’s corporate parties are not the kind your father attended. Groups tend to be smaller, with a department of 40 paying between $100 and $250 per head instead of a company of 300 forking over $50,000 for a single all-hands-on-deck blowout. “Smaller groups are much easier, and you avoid scenes like a dustup between the top executive and a mailroom clerk,” Addison said. He added that, to curb reveler excess, more companies are allotting drink tickets to limit each employee’s intake.

More games, less booze: The holiday office party is back [NYP]


Companies Are Ditching Office Holiday Parties Because Most People Think Office Holiday Parties Suck

Also because they think their colleagues suck and would sooner avoid spending even more enforced time with them.

Facebook Will Take Free Money From Banks But Don't Expect It To Show Any Gratitude

The Wall Street Journal today discovered that universal banks that lend money to companies for cheap tend to want investment banking business in return for that lending and I guess that's a scandal: As the market for technology IPOs revs up and the biggest banks seek to capitalize on the size of their balance sheets, the practice of selecting underwriters that also provided loans is coming under focus, spurred by Facebook's IPO process. Critics of the practice say the choices aren't accidental and reflect the "you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours" way that Wall Street works. Bankers, for their part, say they aren't allowed to make loans on the condition that they receive other business, but borrowers can use the loans as a factor in choosing underwriters. Some bankers say that lending is just one of the many services they offer companies. At Facebook, the credit line played a role in the batting order for underwriters, said a banker who worked on an underwriting pitch to the company. When I was young and naive and pitching for underwriting business against banks that did lots of lending, I always thought that banks "aren't allowed to make loans on the condition that they receive other business, but borrowers can use the loans as a factor in choosing underwriters" thing was ripe for a scandal. I still sort of think that: I just do not believe that no client coverage banker has ever said "we'll be in your credit facility but only if you promise us underwriting or M&A business." (Some people agree with me!) And, as the Journal notes, that would be a criminal violation of the antitrust laws, which is unspeakably weird but there you go. But if you ask a banker who has been carefully and recently briefed on anti-tying regulations, he will probably tell you something like "we don't demand underwriting business to provide a loan. Companies demand loans to get underwriting business." And, as the Journal says, that's not illegal.