Like skirts, whose length is supposed to vary according to economic cycles, office Christmas parties have always been sensitive to fluctuations in the business world. Since remote working has emptied offices – and COVID-19 has devastated vacation plans – some companies have rethought their festivities: no more drinking parties. Instead, a lunch in the conference room at 3 p.m., where we chat while sipping mocktails.

At GrowthForce, an accounting firm in Houston, human resources decided this year to eliminate the traditional dance party at a golf club, complete with hors d’oeuvres, Christmas dinner, open bar and DJ for dancing. Instead, HR hosted an office dinner for all 50 employees, complete with a holiday-themed trivia game, a gift exchange, and even suggestions for community involvement. The party started at 11am. Everything was packed up by 3 p.m. It also made it possible to reduce the budget for the festivities.

In HR, we were exultant: “We saw team members talking to each other who didn’t mix before,” exclaims Gabriela Sanchez, head of HR at GrowthForce. “Before, people would come with their spouse and say, ‘Let’s just eat, drink and dance.’ »

For the most part, employees seem to agree, like Jamie Dailey, an accountant who has been with the company for nine years.

But she adds: “I regret, perhaps, that we no longer see colleagues’ spouses. »

Since the pandemic, corporate caterers have noticed that many clients no longer want the office party of yesteryear: more and more, we prefer daytime celebrations, with little alcohol.

“Since COVID-19, after-party events have increased by 100%,” explains Min Brown, sales director at Yaymaker, an event organizer very active in tech and financial SMEs.

With hybrid working, staff have become less inclined to go out in the evening. And people are drinking less: Just 40 percent of young Americans say they are regular drinkers (there are more regular drinkers among middle-aged Americans). Previously, the average young adult drank more than their elders, Gallup polls show. Waves of layoffs in the tech sector – more than 250,000 in 2023, according to the website – have undoubtedly prompted companies to celebrate in a more reserved and frugal way.

Across all offices of social media company Hootsuite, celebrations began at 4 p.m. to accommodate employees with children. We served sparkling wine – with or without alcohol.

It used to be the big night with beer on tap and a band, says Carol Waldmann, facilities and real estate manager in Vancouver, where Hootsuite has its largest office. That’s no longer what many employees want, she said, adding that the new formula may have saved a little, even if that wasn’t the goal.

“Many of our employees have young children and family responsibilities. For them, going out all night is not really an option,” says Ms. Waldmann, adding that daytime celebrations lend themselves less to excesses. “Alcohol is less prevalent than before, which is a good thing from a wellbeing point of view and not having colleagues going wild on the dance floor with their ties around their heads. »

Since 2020, Hootsuite has also hosted virtual parties for remote workers on, with activities such as holiday-themed trivia games (senior executives have been invited to participate in these online meetings).

Google, whose pre-COVID-19 holiday parties were epic, is hosting team parties this year, with some smaller regional offices also hosting their own get-togethers. The company tries to avoid extravagance, says spokesman Ryan Lamont. Google has outlined guidelines for hosting “inclusive events”: starting earlier in the day is suggested. Google parent company Alphabet cut 12,000 jobs in early 2023.

DoorDash, which cut 1,250 positions at the end of 2022, hosts happy hours at its regional offices, which often start early (at 4:30 p.m. in San Francisco). There are also “WeDash” meetups where employees can compete for prizes, including a Vespa scooter. The TV channel CNBC served mimosas during a quiet party in the morning, and another in the afternoon to accommodate its various teams.

Investment firm TIAA hosted a happy hour (which actually started at 4 p.m.) aptly named the Gratitude Meeting.

Roy Bahat, a venture capitalist at Bloomberg Beta, has been organizing a party called Startup Festivus on the first Friday in December from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. since 2014, so people can go home and be with family.

“We want end-of-year celebrations where, the following Monday, everyone shows up proud of their behavior,” says Mr. Bahat. Everyone has had end-of-year parties where someone made a mistake and caused trouble. »

Of course, not everyone has given up on the wild parties of the good old days. Kerrie Shakespeare, an executive at home cleaning company O2E Brands, says her company hosted an afternoon party this year, instead of the evening party it had in the past.

The verdict is clear: “Employees want the party in the evening,” she says.