2009 Holiday Parties Should Include the Following

By Matt Van Hoven 

We’ve been hearing anecdotes about this year’s holiday parties &#151 some shops are scaling back more than last year while others are upping the ante, getting back to what you’re used to from years gone by. It’s your typical mixed bag really. Here’s a couple things we think agencies should do this year (and please let us know if your plans include any of this):

&#151 Cancel your party, save for an hour or two of open bar somewhere with a mistletoe. Nobody wants cookies. Nobody wants games. Just booze. It may appear embarrassing not to have some big show, but really all anyone will think is “how much did they spend on this, and why didn’t they just give us the cash?”

&#151 Offer up a moment of silence for those agencies that have had to lay off staff, close, et al. Though a competitive business this may be, each shop borrows from the next (people, ideas, people). You’re all damn lucky to have jobs, and right now a lot of your colleagues are at home wishing they had yours.

&#151 If you’re going to cancel your party and instead donate the money to a charity, make sure it’s not affiliated to your agency in any way. You know who you are. Encourage your employees to take a moment and really think about what it’d be like to shiver all night outside in the cold without a jacket. Really think about it.

&#151 Give as much money as possible to the lowest ranking people. Always. They’ll appreciate it more and be less likely to walk away later. There’s a dearth of loyalty in this business and the easiest way to earn it is to earn it. Someone who makes $30k will appreciate a $2,000 check more than the guy who takes home $200k and a $10k bonus. He’s milking you, you’re milking the $30k kid.

&#151 Don’t tell people their bonuses went to the party. There isn’t a human being alive who would take 4 drinks and some cookies over a check for $50. It may be a small sum, but it’s better than something you’ll donate to your bathroom the next day.

&#151 Giving any money to a charity before your people, though somewhat noble, is bullshit. Your employees earned that money and it’s unfair of you to make it a tax write-off. I’m sure your people all have “Jon Doe College/Car/Home/Knee-replacement/First-vacation-in-a-decade/Weed Funds” which are all in need of financial injections. Yes, giving to the poor is good. Or whatever. But don’t rob your staff for a write-off &#151 posterity frowns upon it.

The bottom line is you can’t pretend to know what’s best for your employees, so unless you’re giving them money first there’s no reason to have a party. They’re arbitrary, wasteful, and will probably result in some VP banging an intern in the copy room &#151 which you just know is going to end up on AgencySpy.

That reminds us: please send all holiday party stories, pictures, videos to agencyspy at mediabistro.com.

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