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Companies Drop Traditional Holiday Parties for New Traditions

COLUMBUS, Ohio

Big Christmas parties were a corporate staple until the recession hit in 2008. Then, many firms dropped them.

Now, more businesses are giving parties again, according to executive search firm, Battalia Winston. Their survey found that companies are throwing parties to boost worker morale and celebrate a good year. But this time, some corporate parties have changed. Rent a Santa Claus for your special event at any venue.

For the Columbus office of Karpinski Engineering, it's a bowling party and gift exchange. Company vice president Frank Eisenhower says before the recession, all company branches met in Cleveland for dinner at a hotel.

"They were very formal. They were very expensive,” said Eisenhower.

Then the economy tanked, and the party all but disappeared.

"We would just meet in our conference room and exchange gifts, you know, not a lot of fun,” added Eisenhower.

Then business improved, and Frank thought his team deserved a treat. It's beer, not cocktails and finger food, not fancy food. It’s still a big hit.

"It's pretty fun.  It's pretty laid back.  I've enjoyed it,” added Tim McVicker, a Karpinski employee.

Across Columbus, employees from C Max Advisors carried armloads of gifts into Marion-Franklin High School. They volunteer time during the year with the kids, so they chose a low-key company party.

"We cooked a meal, and then presented it to our spouses and significant others, and that's really more in line with our culture,” explained Molly Eyerman, C Max Advisors.

They used the rest of the money for a sibling party for the high school students.

"We selected 10 students who will then receive gifts that they will wrap and give to their younger siblings. So, it's a great opportunity for them to learn not only the joy of Christmas, but the benefit of giving,” said Bryan Gillum, C Max Advisors Managing Director.

These corporate givers are paying it forward with a new kind of holiday party - one that passes on the Christmas spirit.

The Battalia Winston survey also found that 70 percent of the companies who responded said they planned to grow, and hire more people next year.

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