Is the Party Over?
Every year attorney Peter Wold and friends send out humorous invitations to their holiday party.

Is the Party Over?

High-profile workplace holiday parties may be on the decline, but two of the region’s most lavish events soldier on.

If your company doesn’t hold a holiday party or offers only a modest office pizza buffet, then you clearly aren’t working alongside Peter Wold or Stanley S. Hubbard. Both men relish hosting lavish December workplace parties, and they don’t give a second thought to spending five figures on their annual celebrations.

Wold, a veteran lawyer, hosts an annual bash and shares the cost with defense attorneys from different firms: David Valentini, Faison Sessoms and Tom Shiah. “It is the largest legal holiday party in town,” Wold tells TCB. “We have 1,200 to 1,500 people.”

Hubbard, chairman and CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting, expects his party at the Minneapolis Hilton will attract more than 500 employees and guests. “It is a cocktail party, a wonderful meal and first class all the way.”

At both parties, alcohol is on the menu. “We have food, an open bar from 5 to 8,” says Wold, who has hosted parties at the Muse Event Center and Fine Line Music Cafe. “We have music and Wally the Beer Man is always there carrying a tray of beer around.” At the Hubbard party, “we hand out drink tickets,” Hubbard says, “because we don’t want people getting drunk.”

Wold and Hubbard are throwbacks to a time when lavish company holiday parties were commonplace. The Society for Human Resource Management conducted a survey two years ago and found only 65 percent of employers planned to have any type of holiday party. Among those, only 59 percent intended to serve alcohol.

Hubbard, 84, is carrying on his father’s tradition: “It’s a chance for us to tell everybody we really appreciate them.” Hubbard makes party speeches, a combination of the serious and humorous. “I always try and find a couple of jokes,” Hubbard says. “My wife Karen wants to crawl under the table.”

When he was a young lawyer in the early 1980s, Wold says he hosted his first holiday party at McCready’s Bar with law partner David Jacobs. While the annual party has grown, the approach is the same. “There is no program,” Wold says. “It is just for fun.” The event attracts prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, politicians and athletes. The music is usually a mix of rock ’n’ roll and reggae. “We’ve always expected the Stones would show up and join the party,” Wold adds. “They haven’t done it yet, but they are more than welcome.”