Are Business Cocktail Parties on the Way Out?

You receive an invitation to a company dinner or conference, including the obligatory cocktail party. Do you attend? Or skip it and attend only the dinner? You know it will be the same old thing, feeling like a wall flower while the same few people congregate together, some over indulging at the bar. After all, the company is paying the tab, right, so why not drink up?

The above scenario is all too familiar, causing more and more businesses to rethink the wisdom and effectiveness of hosting cocktail parties. Originally intended as a networking opportunity, too often cocktail parties foster excessive drinking at company expense and may promote exclusiveness among a few extroverted cronies, leaving the introverts to either skip the party or endure the party in misery.

In our increasingly diverse business world where employees come from diverse ethnic backgrounds, practice a variety of religions or may have health issues, employees are increasingly avoiding events where alcohol and certain foods are served. Vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free individuals, diabetics, those with food allergies, those who avoid certain foods for religious reasons and others may find it difficult to partake of some foods, as well as alcohol.

If your company hosts a cocktail party, offering non-alcoholic choices may draw more attendees. Or skip the alcohol entirely and offer a coffee and tea bar, ice cream sodas or another more trendy option. Additionally, setting a goal for the event, such as learning something new from someone in a different department or from another branch may increase purposeful mingling. Before you plan your next cocktail party, be sure it will meet company objectives, engage employees and not be a waste of time and money.


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