It's the one time in the year where everybody puts their guard down, where enemies agree to a ceasefire and colleagues at peace strengthen their ties. After a long, hard slog, there is little to beat the year end office party as a stress relieving, winding down exercise that paves the path to a well earned December vacation.
At this time of year, people feel entitled to a bit of a splurge on expensive food and abundant alcohol. While office parties are a good way to process and dissipate the stress that has built up over the past 12 months, too often they are a variation on the same theme every December.
May I be so bold as to propose a slight shake up. Instead of the usual dinner and drinks or booze cruise aboard a yacht, how about going for lunch and some light drinks? Eating out for lunch doesn't last as long as dinner does so less is consumed. Do this lunch at a moderately expensive restaurant instead of an exclusive one, then take the money that was saved and give it to an orphanage, old age home or animal shelter.
Our money goes a much longer way for the less fortunate than it does for us. It doesn't cost as much as a $40 gourmet dinner to feed a hungry person. In fact, $40 can keep them going for a week. For the cost of a pair of Guess jeans you can easily buy ten kids an outfit each from a thrift store.
Have your fun: don't not have a year end function, but create a relatively frugal budget for it this time. That one bottle of wine can buy a few blankets that will keep some homeless people warm for years; a steak dinner that fills your stomach for a few hours can translate into three books that will captivate and educate countless orphans for years. A slight sacrifice on each person's part during this period can create a positive effect on others that lasts much longer than one night.