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Office parties are back on Long Island, caterers say

Crest Hollow Country Club employee Rosa Morales prepares

Crest Hollow Country Club employee Rosa Morales prepares prepares the first course for guests of a large corporate holiday party on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

More companies are in a partying mood this holiday season, according to surveys and some local caterers.

No, companies aren't partying like it's 2006, before the last recession began. But greater numbers are again choosing to thank employees with a year-end party.

In its 2014 Year-End Holiday Practices report, business-research firm Bloomberg BNA says 77 percent of businesses are expected to hold a holiday party this year, up from 70 percent a year ago. Despite the increase, this year's percentage of expected revelers still pales next to the 83 percent that celebrated in the 2005-2006 holiday season.

Among small businesses, 49 percent plan to throw a holiday party this year, up from 43 percent in 2013, estimates Bank of America's Fall 2014 Small Business Owner Report.

Corporate holiday parties are picking up locally as well. Janine Dion, director of sales and marketing at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, estimates corporate holiday bookings have risen 10 percent to 15 percent this year from a year ago, after about five years when more companies were opting for turkey giveaways or in-house parties for employees.

"They are coming back slow and steady," she said.

Crest Hollow is increasingly offering customized parties because the slow recovery left many companies price-conscious. Some companies want a cocktail party rather than a sit-down dinner, Dion said.

"We are doing some different, edgy type of parties," she said. "That seems to be attracting companies back."

At Lombardi Caterers, which has several locations in Suffolk County, Lauren Lombardi, director of operations, also said the customized approach has been good for business, helping to increase corporate holiday bookings about 10 percent from last year.

One of the most popular celebrations combines various small businesses in a party room, with each business purchasing tables.

"You can still take everyone out and celebrate without the expense of renting a private room," Lombardi said.

Offering such options is key to appealing to local businesses these days, she said.

"We had to adapt to what our customers' needs are and what is going on in the corporate world," Lombardi said.

At some local businesses the holiday party has remained a time-honored tradition, even during slack economic conditions. Jeffrey Pliskin, a principal of Garden City-based Pliskin Realty and Development Inc., a commercial real estate firm, said the company has held a holiday party for employees and clients for about 20 years. This year the company will host a cocktail reception and a sit-down dinner for 25 employees and clients at Toku, an Asian fusion restaurant in the tony Americana Manhasset shopping mall.

"These are my top assets," Pliskin said of his employees. "And I want to show that I appreciate them."

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