Hearsties Say Holiday Party Trumps Last Year With Candy and Cupcakes

By Lauren Matison December 18, 2007, 5:07 PM EST

Instead of party favors, Hearst employees could fill small silver Chinese-take-out-style boxes (sometimes three or four) with wrapped candies from the candy bar.

Photo: Alison Whittington for BizBash

It's corporate holiday party time, so we're heading out into the cold to ask employees what they think about their companies' bashes. (That's the point, right?)

As the holiday parties start to peter out, we made our final stop at Hearst's company-wide bash, which, like last year's, was held in the media conglomerate's shiny tower. Already prepped about the production, we peppered guests with questions about the candy bar, and what was happening on the 44th floor. Writers, editors, marketing managers, and even Hearst president Cathie Black said it was fun, and many agreed that the holiday flop of 2006 could now be forgiven. The sugar-happy guests had a lot to say about the theme, the food, and the photo booth.

“It was really nice, a good presentation. The theme, 'All that Glitters,' translated into wintry colors, icicles, and a six-foot-tall cupcake tower. It was a tasteful affair, and somehow stayed mellow. They did a great job with the space. The slide show was entertaining, and something else to look at and do. I had no problem with anything.”
Editorial assistant, Cosmopolitan
“The view on the 44th floor was spectacular. Smart to have everyone up there for this.”
Writer, SmartMoney

“I like it when I can hear people, and it was hard to hear people in there. It was pretty loud, and everything has a bluish tint, so you’re not quite sure what the food is, other than it’s blue. I’m not a fan of blue shrimp.”
Sales employee, Town & Country

“I thought the event was much better than last year. There was an unconventional photo booth where you could compose your black-and-white picture with coworkers, hit the shutter, and see it up on the 20-foot projector. It gave the party a personal touch to recognize people. Cathie Black was up there. As soon as your picture was done, within moments, you could see it on the big screen. Better yet, they scrolled through the shots constantly, so you could hang out around the floor and your photo would come back up. And on another note, I loved those pulled-pork sliders.”
Photo editor

“I did a quick walk-by on my way down from the office. It looked really good. I thought the food was delicious, especially the mini hamburgers. They had some great seating that seemed to be Moroccan-inspired, with silver little benches, white furniture, and orbs you could perch on, which was really cute and spiced up the place.”
Assistant, O, The Oprah Magazine

“Cupcakes were arranged to look like a Christmas tree. You could take one to go in a box. Mine had silver on it, but each one was different. Overall, this party is 100 percent better than last year.”
Editor, Redbook

“This is my first year. I thought it was superb what they were able to do with the lights and some simple decor to really make the place look different at night. The food was very appetizing; there was a buffet, but it also felt like a culinary tasting. It was fun.”
Human resources associate

“I’m a pretty loyal dude. Here’s what I know: I know last year there was negative press. It’s head-and-shoulders better this year. Oh, yeah. The company’s well run. [The Hearst Corporation] saw it, got the negative press. It was pretty clear they sent a message tonight, like, 'We screwed up, I’m sorry. There’s going to be no shortage of shrimp or burgers or whatever this time.' The candy bar was great, and here [pulls out a silver box filled with confections], let me give you a little present. You’re out here in the cold.”
Marketing staffer, Popular Mechanics

“This was my first holiday party at Hearst, and I thought it was very beautiful. The atmosphere was great; everyone was happy.”
—Research editor, a Hearst magazine

“I thought the [email invitation] was very nice. I remember the Nutcracker music, and liked that you had the option to turn the music off, although I kept it on. I was at the holiday party last year, and although the building was beautiful, the party was just O.K. One hundred and twenty percent improvement this year. It’s overwhelming when you first step through the revolving door, because it’s so beautiful. It’s like Christmastime and the meaning of winter up there. The fountain of cupcakes and the food is just amazing. I had a pomegranate martini, which I had never had before, and it was delicious. There were no lines for anything, and there was more than enough food. They had several luminescent discolike balls with lights that bounced off a larger mirror ball. There’s also a photo slide show with candid shots of employees. No one knew about it. I was telling one of my coworkers on the phone, ‘This is such an improvement. I can’t wait to see how they try and top this next year.’”
Marketing manager, Popular Science

“'Sugar Pie Honey Bunch,' that song got me dancing!”
Editorial staffer, Country Living

“Everything was fabulous. This year was a million times better. The food was fantastic, and the music. The lighting looked like snowflakes coming down; everything was silver and glitzy Christmas balls. The 44th floor was beautiful as well. Up there, they had a station for food, and a bar. They had turkey and ham and shrimp and crudités. This year they went all out. They had little wrapped candies like Starbursts, caramels, and peppermints, which you could put into little containers and take with you on your way out—very clever. It was a first-rate party.”
Office manager, Hearst Newspapers

“I saw the disco balls showing through the windows of the building from several blocks away and thought it was spectacular, so I just wanted to come in and see how they were doing it.”
Passerby, one of many spectators on the sidewalk

“I was surprised that they played 'Gimme More' by Britney Spears. That was a hit with the dancers. DJ Andrew Andrew turned out songs from the ‘90s and ‘80s as well. I wish I didn’t have to leave, but the time I did spend there was great.”
Sales associate, Harper’s Bazaar

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