KANSAS CITY, Kan. — An extra glass of wine, a hopeful winning ticket in the Christmas raffle: These are the standard makings of a holiday work party hosted at a special events space.
Love them or loathe them, office holiday parties are often memorable moments of work-life colliding with social-life.
But in 2020, like so many other things, work holiday parties have widely been canceled.
The Vox Theatre in Kansas City, Kansas, has regularly hosted larger parties for local businesses in the month of December.
“I think a holiday party is just a way for leadership to express their gratitude and give the gift of a communion,” venue manager Anna Fiorella said.
But this year, venues’ regular source of income during the slow time for weddings isn’t coming in.
“I will say definitively that all of our holiday parties have fallen off, and that was even before this new mandate,” Fiorella said.
The cancellations have not only left event spaces empty of the party guests. The venues are also empty of venders — the people who help transform the space into a party atmosphere.
Larry Sprang, owner of Visual FX, coordinated the confetti for the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade. He also does lighting and laser shows for corporate parties and events.
He knows parties. And he knows they are not happening now.
“We have literally done one piece of work since the first week of March,” Sprang said.
“This is my period of time where I’m normally crazy busy, and I’m doing nothing. So it’s been emotionally a roller coaster, and in some ways, I’ve been almost depressed where I’m asking, ‘What am I going to do at this point?'” Sprang said.
Steve Bell, owner of the Kansas City events space Cellar 222, said some of his canceled clients have tried to adapt, referencing one corporate party taken off his calendar.
“I think it was about 60 people that they had planned — key managers and executives to do awards and have a party. So she told me that they are going to Zoom it,” Bell said.
Fiorella said they are hopeful for revived business in 2021, but she fears irreversible damage has already been done.
“It’s sad. I wish everybody the best and I want them to stay healthy, but there’s not going to be a lot of jobs to come back to after this all gets better. It’s a troubling thing to face,” Fiorella said.