It may be only July, but Kevin Masterson has decided he’s not going to his company’s holiday party this year. “Every year they have a theme,” Mr. Masterson, who is 32, said via telephone from his cubicle at a marketing consulting firm in Boulder, Colo. “Last year was Tiki. The year before was Paparazzi, and they had a red carpet and people taking photos and everything. I was talking to my friend Heather in HR—we take smoke breaks together—and she was saying that they’ve started planning this year’s party and the theme is either going to be Sex and the City or Mad Men. And at that point I just decided, no. Just, no. I’m not going.”
Mr. Masterson, it turns out, is not alone. A new Pew Research Center study has shown that 37 percent of Americans employed full-time say they’re staying home from their job’s holiday festivities this year. Like Mr. Masterson, these workers are going to forego the punch and the awkward conversations with their managers in favor of a quiet night with the wife watching Arrested Development on DVD.
To be sure, every year some employees stay home from the holiday party. And this is, in fact, the first study to ask so early in the season whether people are planning on shaking their moneymaker with their co-workers this holiday season.
“It’s not that I’m antisocial,” said Mr. Masterson. “It’s just that I always feel so awkward. That woman from sales who I slept with three years ago—before I met my wife—always gets really wasted and starts crying when she sees me. And this one time, my buddy Paul, who sits next to me, decided we should play a prank on our boss, so we were in his office moving everything around—but subtly, you know? So he wouldn’t notice at first, but then he’d see that everything was in a slightly different place?—and he stumbles in with his secretary, who’s in the midst of taking off her shirt. Awk-ward!”