The big tree in Rockefeller Center is lit, and so too on these December nights are your co-workers, as New York’s worthies—young and old—bundle up and brave the annual office party. Where else, after all, do ambition and angst cross paths so dangerously with four big glasses of Amarone? Where else do office crushes become office cringes, and the fumbled clutch outside the waiting taxi a tale worth retelling through February’s unforgiving afternoons? Where else can you see the Smith grad in the art department do her “Persian fan dance”?
Of course, in the earlier, prim part of the evening, before the clocks start to swing wildly past 2 a.m., there’s the Santafreude quotient: Enough of last year’s prosperous stockings are suddenly stuffed with coal to provide the boozy illusion of one’s personal ascent. Who’s at which party? Who’s tucked into that booth with that very-married editor, and is the budding affair personal or—more troubling—business? Soon, you’re being your jolly party self: Hey, now! Everything is cozy and cheery when—oops!—an untactful word to the boss, smuggled from your lips under the cloak of bourbon and bonhomie, makes you feel like you’re the pig in a blanket.
But do try to enjoy yourself. And if you work at a fancy joint and are putting on your tux, try not to be too discouraged by how fat you’ve gotten since Labor Day: Just pick up some suspenders and Bob’s your uncle! Whoops, not tonight—he’s wearing a dress! So there’s life in the old girl yet! Merry Christmas!
Wenner Media: Dec. 15, NA, 246 West 14th Street
It’s been one hell of a year for the worker bees over at the House of Jann. On the upside, Us Weekly managed to get the jump on their competitors for the tabloid version of Plamegate (Nick and Jessica/ Brad and Jen), but down the halls of 1290 Avenue of the Americas, things weren’t as squeaky clean as Jann Wenner likes them to be (and he likes them clean). Besides the general floundering and lack of editor at Men’s Journal, the real blow came when the Dick Cheney of the Wenner empire, Kent Brownridge, announced his retirement last month. To think that just a year ago, the spooky, specter-like Mr. Brownridge showed up at the Wenner holiday bash with none other than right-wing scrump kitten Ann Coulter on his arm. This year’s party might be a tad more relaxed without Mr. Brownridge: Last year, one art director angrily confronted him at the party; the art director was dismissed two days later. Happy Holidays!
The Corcoran Group: Jan. 10, Cipriani Wall Street, 55 Wall Street
Toga! Toga! Known for lavish theme parties, the Corcoran Group doesn’t disappoint with a “Gods and Goddesses” bash at Cipriani Wall Street (coincidence that the upper floors just became luxury condos?). “Rome is the theme,” said event producer Bryan Jacobson. “I’m taking my inspiration from HBO’s Rome and a party I went to in Ibiza, Spain, this summer.” Expect “something out of Circe de Soleil.” Uh-oh. Can glow sticks be far behind? A harp player will set the mood before the night really takes off with a D.J. “I’m thinking of having torches,” said Mr. Jacobson, “if we can get permission.” Makes that exorbitant broker’s fee a bit more understandable, doesn’t it? Will recently departed founder Barbara Corcoran make an appearance? Would Corcoran C.E.O. Pamela Liebman be willing to share the spotlight? Apparently, Ms. Corcoran’s invite got, er, lost in the mail. “If I wasn’t invited, should I call and ask for an invite?” said Ms. Corcoran, who fondly remembers throwing employee parties as her “most favorite part of the job.” She added: “I always have to have the best costume.” She said she usually picks up her flamboyant costumes at gay men’s shops downtown. “I’ll probably crash the party.” Here we go!
The Daily News: Dec. 5, Copacabana, 560 West 34th Street
It’s been quite some time since the Copa was the hottest spot north of Havana (or even north of 32nd Street), and just as long since Daily News staffers were able to enjoy a good office freak-fest. “You aren’t allowed a date because, apparently, we are too cheap,” said one reporter. “So all the grotty old men get drunk and hit on the young girls because their wives are home in Jersey.” Fun! Last year, Lloyd Grove’s sidekick Hudson Morgan inexplicably was left off the guest list. Now he’s going to take a job at Men’s Vogue. Coincidence?
MTV Networks: Dec. 8, Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street
Long gone are the days when MTV parties were all about safe sex, Prozac and Flock of Seagulls videos. Now the parties are even worse, about as soulless as the network’s music programming. Naïve staffers hoping to catch a glimpse of hottie V.J. Vanessa Minnillo should rethink their plans: “You really realize the enormity of MTV Networks when you’re at Hammerstein Ballroom and you can’t even move through the crowd without getting your nose jammed up in someone’s armpit,” said one longtime staffer. “It always feels like no one gets a plus-one, except the cafeteria and mailroom guys—and they get a plus-six.”
The Daily Show: Dec. 14, Movida, 28 Seventh Avenue
The shining light of Comedy Central, Jon Stewart and his merry men staffers of The Daily Show, troop down to the West Village’s Movida to sit around and try to out-clever one another. The club boasts black marble, chandeliered ceilings and a sort of luxury-yacht theme—just like Mr. Stewart’s home state of New Jersey! Crashers be warned: The guys guarding the velvet rope have no sense of humor. O.K., Tucker, got it, you big silly goose?
The New Yorker: Dec. 7, Pastis, 9 Ninth Avenue
The new generation of New Yorker staffers—you know, the young ladies in perky camisoles who did their college theses on Anaïs Nin, and the young fellas with muttonchops and nipple rings—rush like moths to the meatpacking district’s tired old Pastis tonight. The days of scandalous public make-out sessions appear to be a thing of the past, as “nothing really ever happens” seems to be the summation of the last few years’ showings. Lock up your daughters!
New York: Dec. 15, Encore, 757 Sixth Avenue
Editor Adam Moss’ minions dutifully trudge to a Flatiron district karaoke bar. There’s 10,000 songs to choose from, but staffers beware: Mr. Moss apparently stays quite sober at these affairs. At least until someone puts on Donna Summer.
Cargo: Dec. 15, Centrico, 211 West Broadway
Cargo may have graduated to monthly status but has yet to be bumped up to an evening party—which means the well-groomed bunch will head to Centrico for … lunch. “We did drink at lunch last year,” said one attendant. “We didn’t make it back to the office.” Wacky! The staff is “encouraged” to bring a toy for a Katrina charity. (First they’ll need some gentle coaching on what Katrina was, but that’s O.K.). Uh oh: There’s “encouragement” for staffers to perform skits. “You don’t have to do it, you’re just encouraged,” said a Cargo drone. Last year, apparently, such prodding produced a worrisome duet between two members of the ad-sales division.
News Corp., Dec. 16, Hilton New York, 1335 Avenue of the Americas
Rupert Murdoch’s toilers (from the New York Post, Fox Broadcasting, TV Guide) put on something sparkly and head to the Hilton Hotel, where the third floor has been turned into a disturbingly themed “Future of Fun” party. Partygoers can choose between (deep breath): the Crystal Ball room with fortune tellers (“You’re all going to hell!”); Club Ice, where 20th Century Fox will screen footage from 2006’s Ice Age 2: The Meltdown; Cyber Space, where one explores the “digital frontier”; Game Time, which has cheerleaders and referees (seriously) and places to watch sports …. It all sounds like so much fun, does it not?
Teen Vogue: Dec. 6, La Esquina, 203 Lafayette Street
The well-heeled lambs at Teen Vogue were denied a proper party last year, having to settle instead for chips and margaritas in the ninth-floor hallway, with a gift from editor in chief Amy Astley—the book Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue. This gesture didn’t exactly go over like a house afire (the gals went straight to Amazon.com to see how much they could sell their copies for). This year, the girls are invited to play at La Esquina, the Lower East Side joint with the unmarked door and unpublished number so hip and underground that The New York Times wrote a 1,300-word article in the Style section in July.
Vogue and Men’s Vogue: La Esquina, 203 Lafayette Street
What’s this?—Vogue and Men’s Vogue are having their party in the same venue as kid sister Teen Vogue. It’s hard to imagine Anna Wintour getting anywhere near a taco stand, but this just goes to show the power of hype and much-stated “exclusivity.” Meanwhile, are we the only ones who see the existence of Men’s Vogue as evidence of the universe imploding?
Alfred A. Knopf: Dec. 6, Punch, 913 Broadway
The erudite imprint throws a most sedate kind of affair. Sonny Mehta presides as brainy, slutty girlies and gangly boyies drink cocktails and congratulate themselves on Oprah picking up James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. Apparently, Mr. Mehta is known to tell the same “joke” about how long he’s been with company every year.
Harper’s Magazine: Pravda, 281 Lafayette Street
One never knows who they’ll run into at the Harper’s holiday party; past attendees include Lewis Lapham’s pal Alec Baldwin and Kurt Vonnegut. Expect lots of martinis and puckered ass-kissing of newly named Lapham replacement Roger Hodge.
Gourmet: Dec. 15, the home of Ruth Reichl, Upper West Side
You won’t catch Bonnie Fuller inviting her staff over to her lair, but Gourmet editor in chief Ruth Reichl has something of a tradition going as she again invites her editorial staff to her book-filled apartment for sumac-rubbed skirt steak (sounds dirty.) The Choro Ensemble, a Brazilian band, will be on hand to provide the music. Hey, just how big is this apartment anyway?
Esquire: Dec. 13, Astor Place
Lucky for the lads at Esquire, the magazine knew of an easy place to throw a party: their own apartment! Esquire is currently the non-paying renter of an uninhabited apartment in the Gwathmey-Siegel building in formerly skateboard-ridden Astor Place. “It’s absurdly swanky,” described one who has seen it. The $12.5 million bachelor’s pad, furnished by various designers, is estimated at 5,500 square feet, so David Granger and the boys should have plenty of space to elbow-rub. A.J. Jacobs, with his rabbinical beard and tight trousers, will bring his dancing shoes. Hey, he’s the last straight man left in that place, and a guy’s gotta dance!
CBS: Dec. 8, the chairman’s floor at Black Rock, 51 West 52nd Street
CBS throws a notoriously snoozy soiree this time of year, complete with traditional pigs-in-a-blanket, the giant head and teeth belonging to Les Moonves, and grousing. This year, the quiet chatter in corners is sure to revolve around rumors of bringing the peppy Katie Couric over to anchor the evening news. Meanwhile, others will do their best to make Dan Rather feel less awkward. Good luck with that.
Ken Sunshine Consultants: Dec. 12, Fiddlesticks Pub, 56 Greenwich Avenue
The West Village Irish pub has plenty of cozy corners for Sunshine staffers to hold court and eat fish and chips. The past few weeks have been a doozy for the company, as they signed the estranged Mr. Jessica Simpson—Nick Lachay—to their roster, which also includes Ben (Curse of the) Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio. The upstairs bathrooms at Fiddlesticks provide a great place to conspire.
New Line Cinema and Picturehouse: Dec. 6, Bottega Del Vino, 7 East 59th Street
We’re guessing nothing will ever replace the glow that the Lord of the Rings franchise gave to New Line staffers, but we’re sure the bunch will be abuzz to see if Colin Farrell can make a decent period film in The New World. Meanwhile, newly launched Picturehouse will be chattering about picking up the new Altman flick (the downside: It stars Lindsay Lohan).
Allure: Dec. 15, Paladar, 161 Ludlow Street
The over-plucked and glossy-lipped ladies of Allure take the F train to the Lower East Side—just kidding! Look for a logjam of town cars on Ludlow as the girls step out in something strappy to celebrate the holidays at the Pan-Latino restaurant Paladar. Last year, the zine had the theme of “High/Low,” which one spy translated into “fried chicken and caviar.” Sigh. Ladies, don’t eat too many chips … your managing editor is watching you!
Glamour: Dec. 12, Aspen, 30 West 22nd Street
The Glamour girls will toast one another under Lucite deer heads and birch branches at the cozy new 42,000-square-foot restaurant and lounge Aspen, in the Flatiron district. The theme is “Après-Ski” (bien sur); the would-be snow bunnies forwent last year’s gritty East Village karaoke mess for this crazy mess of a place.
The Village Voice: Dec. 7, Canal Room, 285 West Broadway
The disgruntled plebes at The Village Voice have more to complain about this year than usual. There’s the ongoing chatter about the independent’s merge with the big ole New Times, and the pre-Christmas shocker of editor Donald Forst resigning. But some things will probably remain the same: “It’s always like walking into a singles’ mixer,” said one contributor, blaming the liberal invitations to freelancers. “It’s always a sort of walk-around thing thinking, ‘Who are these people?’” Usual answer: Michael Musto. But “Michael Musto didn’t even show last year.” Yes, folks, it’s gotten that bad.
Lizzie Grubman Public Relations: Dec. “Twentysomething,” Encore, 757 Sixth Avenue
The hot and peppy “PoweR Girls,” chronicled so lovingly on MTV, will be having what founder Lizzie Grubman describes as “just a small party. We like to have it as a family.” The young misses (who have stripped down for Stuff magazine and made out with television stars, to name the things they’ve done for—well, not money, but fame, we guess?) and head mistress, Ms. Grubman, will karaoke at Encore. Luckily, Ms. Grubman bought the office its own karaoke machine a few months ago (think that one over). Ms. Grubman claims she can’t sing, which is too bad.
Prudential Douglas Elliman: Dec. 15, the Four Seasons, 99 East 52nd Street
Their competitors, the Corcoran Group, are shacked up this year at Cipriani Wall Street—where Elliman had their party last year. So, of course, the real-estate firm had to class it up to the Four Seasons. Last year, Gloria Gaynor performed. The high-fiving will certainly go around over this year’s Tribeca sale to Jon Stewart, as well as for currently holding the city’s most expensive listing (Jaqui Safra’s $55 million mansion).
GQ: Dec. 15, La Esquina, 203 Lafayette Street
Last year, the nattily dressed lads of GQ packed themselves into the West Village’s Movida—months before the place even opened (take that, Daily Show)! The staff got themselves good and drunk—and, as most remember, rather sweaty (and don’t tell Mayor Mike, but it was rather smoky to boot!). Watch for top dog Michael Hainey to lead the way to an after-party; last year, he brought the troops over to the soggy hipster spot Luke & Leroy and kept the shots coming.
The Nation: Dec. 15, Telephone Bar and Grill, 149 Second Avenue
The fragrance-strip-hating Nation staffers sure do like to get their Anglophile on at the Telephone Bar! Returning to the scene of last year’s party, they’ll be crying into their pints again about the state of the government. But at least they have something to celebrate: the surge in circulation. (Turns out hatred of W. breeds good readers!) Victor Navasky officially handed over the tome last month to Katrina vanden Heuvel, who started at the journal as an intern in 1980. We’re betting she wears a leather miniskirt and goes commando!
Jane: Dec. 20, R&R, 416 West 14th Street
It will be an interesting end of the year for the Jane gang, after a handful of top editors have left (and the “It’s So Jane” mantra not feeling quite the same with an editor in chief named Brandon Holley—but we love the new horseback-riding, slightly kinky Ms. Holley!).The troops will head to the R&R bar for a little Punk Rock Heavy Metal Karaoke. Sweet Jesus, when will the karaoke humiliation end?
Proskauer Rose: Dec. 14, Marriot Marquis, 1535 Broadway, ninth floor
One of the larger law firms, Proskauer Rose has many shiny clients—from MoMA to the N.B.A.—and the 500 or 600 staffers who show up for the bash like to party! “I’ve heard, at some law firm parties, they don’t allow dancing,” said events manager Michele Chaffin. “We have a D.J., and we dance.” Scary. Very scary. This firm is big on themes: Past extravaganzas have included “Proskauer Island,” which featured imported sand, a tiki bar, piña coladas and hair braiders. This year, it’s an “Orient Express”–themed bash, starting with an invite that plays actual choo-choo noises. Associates—when not theorizing about their upcoming bonuses—can get a picture taken that will digitally put them on a train. But the hair will probably still not come down; “I believe that this is a social situation, but it is still in the context of a business environment,” said Ms. Chaffin. “I don’t allow rap music with profanity.”
City Hall Press Corps Dinner: Dec. 12, Gracie Mansion
Our Mayor is rich, see? So it stands to reason that he’d throw a party for the group of reporters who are assigned to nip at his heels all year. Apparently, Hizzoner goes from table to table as the evening wears on, shaking hands and making jokes. Satirical awards are given (past awardees have received a bucket of horse manure from Mr. Bloomberg’s horse farm in Westchester).
Artforum-Bookforum: Dec. 20, Pravda, 281 Lafayette Street
Expect artists and editors to commingle at this gig; anyone featured in Artforum gets an invite to Pravda, the magazine’s traditional holiday spot. The party officially ends at 9 p.m., but staffers linger in the upstairs lounge. “Last year, the highlight was that two interns caught their hair on fire,” said a Bookforum editor. “The two of them had passed out, and their hair was smoking. This happened separately—it’s not like they were the Olsen twins and passed out together. That’s why they shouldn’t have open flames at these thing—there were candles all over the place.” There you go again, you intellectuals, always overthinking things.
Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton: Dec. 12, One Liberty Plaza, 39th floor
“You’re getting your assed kicked, work-wise, and then you’re supposed to have fun—in the office,” said one lawyer from the law firm of CGS&H, which transforms two conference rooms into a nightclub overlooking Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty. Who wants a drink? Past years have involved dancers in skimpy dresses and a drink luge with glowing blue ice cubes. Spouses of any persuasion are always welcome. “A few hours into the party, there must have been a half-dozen gay guys making out on the dance floor,” said an attendee of last year’s bash. Expect the more ambitious to be shaking a tail feather. “The people who are up for partner are the people who were out on the dance floor and who stayed till the end. They were showing that they were having a really good time.”
The New York State Democratic Committee: Dec. 15, Sheraton New York, 811 Seventh Avenue
Not shockingly, this year’s bash is held at the Sheraton, where it seems every political wonk likes to throw a party (including Mayor Bloomberg’s victory celebration last month). As the booze flows, so will the predictions of Eliot Spitzer going to Albany. But the fun will cost you for this one—tickets are 175 bucks. Will Hillary show and pretend she gives a damn about New York? Tune in!
Hearst Publishing: Dec. 8, Tavern on the Green, Central Park
The great, groaning Hearst machine continues its annual fête at the twinkly-lit Tavern on the Green. Watch for the Cosmo staffers to show some boob. The real fun is no doubt in watching the 1,100 staffers interfacing. The venue boasts a band and D.J. (whoo-hoo!), but the question remains: Why does Esquire get their own private party? It’s only a matter of time before Oprah buys her gals at O their own apartment each.
Fox Searchlight: Dec. 5, Campbell Apartment, Grand Central Terminal, 15 Vanderbilt Avenue
Last year, the party sported sushi and Thomas Haden Church and all the Oscar expectations in the world for Sideways. This year, we’re looking at … Bee Season. Bzzzzzzzz. Things will no doubt be looking up for Fox Searchlight since they snatched up most of the hot properties in Toronto this year.
Simon & Schuster: Dec. 8, the Supper Club, 240 West 47th Street
Let’s face it: Simon & Schuster ain’t exactly the most scintillating of the Viacom empire, and a common parlor game among staffers is to discuss when they’ll be sold off. Who wants some eggnog? Other topics of conversation will no doubt revolve around longtime editor Michael Korda’s decision to fade into the background, and when they can get Bob Woodward to write another book!
Microsoft: Dec. 17, Movida, 28 Seventh Avenue
Seriously, isn’t every day a party for a Microsoft employee?
W magazine: Dec. 19, Astra, 979 Third Avenue
The traumatized, well-heeled staff of W magazine probably deserves a little R&R after the terrorizing of former and current colleagues by (alleged blah-blah-blah) Peter Braunstein, who is currently at large and hopefully far, far away in the Midwest somewhere. Other chatter may revolve around the hard-to-decipher gift policy between Fairchild and Condé Nast. Watch for a furtive crasher, New York magazine writer Vanessa Grigoriadis, taking camera-phone pics of all the ladies’ shoes.
Cookie: Dec. 7, the home of Pilar Guzman, Park Slope
What better place than Park Slope, home to all the smuggest, hippest, most batty mommies in town, for a holiday party for Cookie—perhaps the most terrifying magazine ever, meant to provide “inspiration and information for the woman within the mother” (translation: Don’t feel guilty for leaving your kid with the nanny all day so you can go to your Manhattan job wearing expensive shoes) and offer swell tips such as how to style your 3-year-old’s hair just so (Cookie recommends an $11 hair gel) and how to get that Oeuf crib delivered straight to your door. Anybody ready for a vasectomy?