Biz Buzz: Office holiday parties rebound

Holiday office parties are making a comeback at some local companies.

Some San Luis Obispo County catering companies say they are booked through the end of the year and beyond.

“I am swamped,” said Jose Dahan, owner and chef of Et Voile, a French bistro in San Luis Obispo. “I have at least one or two holiday parties a day.”

It’s a welcomed turnaround from last year.

“Last year and the year before was painful,” said Jennie Sturgeon, owner of Trumpet Vine Catering in Paso Robles.

Chicago-based outplacement and business coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. conducts a national annual survey on holiday parties in the workplace. This year, they found that 68 percent of companies are planning holiday parties, up slightly from 62 percent a year ago.

About four percent of those holding parties this year are doing so after one or more years with no party because of the recession.

A nonscientific survey of about 100 human resources professionals found that only six percent of those companies holding parties are planning to spend more this year.

The majority of respondents, 76 percent, said party budgets would be about the same as last year. And 18 percent of companies said they are spending less, down from 29 percent a year ago.

Locally, it looks as though some people are in the mood to celebrate but are still hesitant to go all out.

“Even with things being a bit simpler, people are still celebrating,” said Andrea Williams, owner of DePalo and Sons, an upscale deli in Shell Beach. “I have noticed the number of people getting together is not as big and that the parties people are having are not so over the top.”

“People are a little more cost-saving conscious. Instead of a veal chop, they’re going with a pork chop,” Dahan said.

— Staff and wire reports

New board member at housing group

Karol Schulkin of Ventura has been appointed to the board of directors of Peoples’ Self-Help Housing.

Schulkin is a homeless services program coordinator for Ventura County’s Human Services Agency and a member of the National Association of Social Workers, and serves on other nonprofit boards including Los Angeles Housing Works and the Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition.

She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago and has been a member of the Immaculate Heart Community for more than 40 years.

Based in San Luis Obispo and with offices in Santa Barbara, Peoples’ Self-Help Housing is a nonprofit organization that develops below-market-price housing and community facilities for low-income households and homeownership opportunities for working families and special needs populations, such as seniors, the disabled and the formerly homeless.

— Julia Hickey