Company parties likely to be a little less glitzier this year

Andrea Evens, with Two Rivers Convention Center,  setting up Christmas decorations in the lobby at the convention center.



Company Christmas parties decked out with every menu option and decoration imaginable are going to be the exception this year, rather than the rule.

A few companies in the oil and gas industry and perhaps a few banks in town are not giving up the giving spirit to their employees during the current economic downturn, but more expenses are being spared by many more companies in planning that yearly holiday party.

“Instead of going all out and having every option that they have in the last couple years, you’re seeing a client that’s a lot more frugal,” said Tim Seeberg, general manager at Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main St. “That’s not surprising, given the economic conditions that we’re starting to see.

“They might choose not to do a decoration package of some kind they did last year that might have cost them another $15 a person or per table. They might go with a menu selection that has one or two less items than was added on last year.”

That’s not to say the demand is down, he said. The holiday party is still seen as a need, Seeberg said. Hence, there are 50 planned for Two Rivers between December and January, he said.

Tom Burke, owner of Burke Construction, said his superintendent usually takes employees out for a holiday meal. Although they will go out for the meal this year, he said, “bonuses are typically what they look for around their holiday season, and they may be a little thinner than they have been in the past.”

The 600-plus employees at Alpine Bank will still get their five-star bash, helped by some Snowmass resorts putting up half the cost for housing partiers for the night, said Paula Voytilla, a spokeswoman for Alpine Bank.

“Everything’s still a go,” Voytilla said. “We still have our big shindig in Aspen. It’s amazing. There are live performers, dancing. Sometimes they have different people come around to tables and play the violin. I’ve seen the agenda, and it looks like everything is still the same as it is every single year.”

Janet Starr, owner of Red’s Tapas & Bar in Cedaredge, said she has seen more people opting for a holiday luncheon at her restaurant than a dinner.

“It’s less cost, and they don’t have to worry about baby-sitters and drinking and driving,” Starr said.

The restaurant Friday hosted several employees of Delta County Schools for a holiday luncheon. Several employees of Rocky Mountain Health Plans were at a holiday luncheon Thursday.

Starr said many of the parties seem to be starting early because there are only two good weekends in December to have something before many employees take time off for holidays.

Brian Oliver, general manager of The Ale House, 2531 N. 12th St., said it seems the bad economic year has led to an increase in holiday party bookings at his restaurant. He said tough times may be leading to the higher frequency of bookings, with more businesses looking to kick back for a holiday shindig at the restaurant, which can seat groups of 50 to 80 people.

“They have the holiday spirit, and they take care of their employees, no matter how bad a year they’ve had,” Oliver said. “We’ve been booking holiday parties for a month and a half.”


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