What's out: Office parties. What's in: BYOB parties at work.

The global economic crisis has spurred new rounds of layoffs, home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies. It's also hit an annual workplace rite – the office holiday party.

Many large companies -- American Express, Disney and Viacom – among them, have cancelled big holiday bashes as the economic gloom deepens. Lavish bashes held at swanky hotspots replete with entertainment, open bar and buffet tables groaning with goodies are out. In fact, executive search firm Battalia Winston Amrop reports that 2008 will mark the lowest percentage of office parties in 20 years: The firm reports that as the financial crisis deepens, nearly one-firth of U.S. businesses have decided not to hold their holiday parties.

Battalia's annual report indicates that only 81 percent of companies are throwing a holiday party this year – that's a lower percentage than the holiday season directly following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Of the holiday season of the parties that are going forward, only 71 percent of companies will offer liquor, according to the report

Outplacement-services firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas annual survey also underscores the finding, reporting that the number of companies planning to hold holiday parties this year dropped to 77 percent from 90 percent in 2007. The Challenger survey also said that of the companies whose parties remain on, 13 percent said they've trimmed their budgets by an average of 53 percent, and 65 percent have limited their parties to employees only. Sorry, no guests!

In addition, party planners say budgets for holiday bashes have been significantly pared.

So what's "The Office" crowd do? Well, that's easy: they'll make their own fun.

In: BYOB Parties at Work

In an anemic economy where little perks and morale-boosters like the annual holiday party, staff lunches, after-work tabs picked up by the boss and even bagels on Fridays are cut, what do you? If cutting back is "in", bring on the BYOB/DIY micro parties.

Think: pot luck lunches and dessert parties; BYOB cocktail hours around the office cubicles or in the conference room (okay, maybe some of the booze is purchased by your employer!); Secret Santa gatherings; signing up as a group to participate in charity events; hitting the neighborbood pub Dutch Treat; bowling parties; and board game competitions.

Smaller groups of employees can organize their own fun grassroots-style if the company has scaled back. Pot luck dessert parties are particularly fun with a little BYOB on the side. You can even stage potlucks as a competition with prizes that are donated to charity or not. The prizes can be gently-used or never used items that employees donate. Chile, sandwiches, desserts, you name it... potlucks are easy. When it comes to drinks, everyone can chip in, BYOB-style. Here are a few ideas for keeping the office party real.

Party on...



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