General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

The haves and have-nots at the company party

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Our company work party was this weekend.  B/G – I work for a small, privately-owned company.  The company itself is nothing fancy – we’re in the construction industry.  Most of the people who work here work on jobsites, so we have a small, but nice and neat, no-nonsense office space.  The owners built the company from nothing and they’ve done very well.  They are very well-off.  The party was held at their “farm”.  They have a huge house, several barns, and a ton of property.

For the most part, the party was very nice.  They have a large picnic pavilion on their property and all the food was catered.  They have a beautiful pool for anyone who wanted to swim, a stocked trout pond for a fishing derby, horseback riding, and lots of activities and games for the kids and fireworks at the end of the evening. Clearly, they put a lot of time and money into planning the party.   It is nice that they have the space and such a beautiful setting to accommodate a party like this and I can understand them wanting to hold the party on their own property. 

What did not sit well with me and a few other co-workers was the attitude of “look what we have” that seemed to be underlying all the day’s activities.  Owner Lady told quite a few people of all the work they did on the house, how expensive it was to upgrade the house to the way she wanted it, and how she has professional decorators come in every season to decorate for holidays and such.  One of the day’s events was a hayride that should have been fun, but seemed more like a guided tour of the entire property, complete with stops here and there to show us where they plan to build another horse stable (“so we can buy more horses”) and a shooting range to use at next year’s picnic.  It was pointed out on several different stops where the property extends to and how they hold several of these kind of parties throughout the year.

I can appreciate that the owners have done well for themselves.  They are good people to work for, however none of us are ever going to have that kind of money to afford the kind of property they have with all the luxury upgrades.  It seemed in very poor taste to me that they seemed to be flaunting what their money has bought them.  Now Owner Lady is walking around the office just going on about how they had such a wonderful time hosting all of us this weekend, how they can’t wait to host next year’s event, and how she thinks she’s going to put a call in to her party people to start planning for next year.

GAG.  ::)  Several of us were really put off by the whole have/have-not environment that seemed to surround all the festivities and are not looking forward to an annual showing off of all the riches.  Since it is a very small company and the party is the company’s big “event” of the year, not attending would tend to be noticed and maybe a bit frowned-upon, but we’d all be more comfortable if the party was in a more neutral setting.  Can we somehow put a bug in someone's ear to have next year's party elsewhere?

White Lotus:
This isn't a money problem, it is am attitude problem, probably understandable under the circumstances, but not correct and not kind.
There are "looks" and comments that can be made when someone exhibits the etiquette sin of boasting.  I's start checking Miss Manners, especially the books.  Surely she has way to handle the nouveau rude.  I personally would go for the non-responsive look -- as if the speaker just said an inappropriate word -- and something like, "how nice for you," and bean dip. 

Are these people the kind who are always flaunting their material wealth? Are they always bragging about their latest acquisitions and expenditures? If so, they yeah, ugh. Not pretty and not nice.

But if not, then I tend to see this in a slightly different light. Not so much as bragging and flaunting but more along the lines of "I'm so thrilled at all this cool stuff and I want to show it off." Granted, she is sort of playing this to the wrong audience because I can see it as coming off sounding like, "Here's all the cool stuff we're buying off the backs of your labor."

But since you said they have several parties like this a year, I'm guessing she probably planned a similar party for her friends/social group and then just repeated the party for the employees without realizing how it would sound. Unless she's one who has displayed this insensitivity as part of her personality, I'd give this one faux pas a pass and just assume that her intentions were misplaced rather than intentionally malicious.

It sounds like the first time they've hosted this kind of party for the employees at their place. Maybe next time it won't be so much along those same lines since it won't be the first time everyone's seen it.

But honestly, regardless of any of that, I can't see saying anything at all to them about where they host a party. If they want to host it at McDonald's or at Chez Expensive or at their home or wherever, it's their call. They are hosting. You can go or not, you can be annoyed or disgusted or whatever, but you can't really say anything to them to make them think that their hospitality was somehow lacking.

Well, I mean, you can, but if you''re worried about the repercussions of not going, imagine the repercussions of sending that kind of message to them.

And anyway, yeah, I think it's rude to hint at them to change their venue.

It sounds like ypu see it as showing off and they see it as shzring. I tend to lean in tjeir direction. You have.been able to use some of these things at your parties. It isn't like you hear abput it at work but guarddogs and hired security keep you off thererty. Some of the talk is about you enjoying it as well. I'd gocis on that. There are plenty of emlpoyers who would give no thought to that.

If they were taking people who asked around for the grand tour, then it is not bragging, but taking all your employees on a "Look what we have" tour complete with the cost of everything is just bragging and so off putting IMO.  I am happy when someone who works hard achieves something great, but I think it is tacky to put it in everyone's faces..especially the people who work for you. 


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