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Did the Grinch Come for the Office Holiday Party?

Of course, some companies, even before the pandemic, were trying to avoid celebrations that were raucous or boozy. Roy Bahat, a venture capital investor with Bloomberg Beta, has held a holiday party for start-ups since 2014, called Startup Festivus, on the first Friday of December from 3 to 6 p.m., so people can get home to their families.

“We want to throw holiday parties where the next Monday everyone shows up proud of who they were,” Mr. Bahat said. “We all know the story where someone goes to the holiday party and ends up doing something that causes a big rift.”

At Conductor, a New York-based software company, the chief executive, Seth Besmertnik, decided that what his employees would like most this year would be to take one week off at the same time in late December, and then have a party in February once end-of-year deadlines passed. There was a casual happy hour at a wine bar in Midtown this month, which began early, at 5:30 p.m.

“We went from five days a week of working all the time, and going to evening events, to the other end of the spectrum, which is, ‘I don’t want to come to the office, I want my commute time all back for me,’” he said. “When you’re doing an event to inspire people, motivate them and reward them, do it on terms they’d appreciate.”

“Even me personally, I want to get home earlier,” he added. “I don’t want to be out all night.”

Of course, not all employees are eager to let go of the rowdy old times. Kerrie Shakespeare, chief purpose officer for O2E Brands, which offers services to care for people’s homes like painting and junk removal, said her company held afternoon parties this year, after doing evening ones in the past.

The consensus from staff was clear, she said. “The feedback was that people liked the evening party.”


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