Event planners say most companies still want to reward their employees with a Christmas party. ((Charles Platiau/Reuters))

Calgary party planners say companies are scaling back or cancelling Christmas gatherings because they don't want to be seen as being excessive in this shaky financial climate.

"There are lots of companies that are focused on being responsible to their shareholders and making sure they're giving their value back to their shareholders," said Ken Kristoffersen, who runs Experiential Events.

Event planners say most companies still want to reward their employees in some way, but they are trimming menus, eliminating free booze and ditching live bands, especially big names that have to be flown in.

Walking away from deposits


Film's most famous Scrooge, played by Alistair Sim in 1951's A Christmas Carol, would probably never walk away from a $25,000 deposit. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Brad Saville, a planner with Fuze Entertainment Solutions, said he has heard of a couple of companies that have walked away from deposits of $25,000 or more.

"It's cheaper for them to cancel the party than to have the party," he said. "One company in particular that was planning a fairly big party at a fairly decent venue, flat out called and said they are cancelling."

Kristoffersen said the parties were planned well before the drop in oil prices and the stock market turmoil, so he is curious to find out what will happen next year.

"Obviously next year people are going to be doing their planning knowing what the state of the economy is, whereas this year's planning was done in the previous economy."