Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — To party, or not to party, that is the question.
With publishing and fashion companies in the midst of their worst season in years, several firms have decided to bypass the party season and spend their money in charitable ways. Others believe it’s best to go ahead with their party plans as a way to boost employee morale and to celebrate among friends and colleagues.
Martha Stewart Living caused a mini-revolt in its offices this season when it sent an e-mail looking for 65 volunteers to host intimate dinner parties in their homes for a random group of 10 employees, as reported. After getting a lukewarm response, MSL decided to dispense with the dinner parties and instead host a luncheon at Brasserie 8 1/2.
Hearst Magazines will throw its annual holiday party at Tavern on the Green in mid-December for all New York employees, hosted by Cathie Black. Vogue also will have a holiday party for its editorial and publishing staff, hosted by Anna Wintour, editor in chief, and Richard Beckman, vice president and publisher. And Glamour will invite both the publishing and editorial staffs, and their significant others, to a cocktail party at Fresson in the meatpacking district in mid-December.
Brant Publications, which publishes Interview, The Magazine Antiques and Art in America, will throw a party at Bot, a restaurant in Little Italy, on Dec. 13 for all its employees. In Style plans to have its usual “low-key” staff lunch, where there will be “more emphasis on friendship among the staff,” said Martha Nelson, managing editor. For the second year in a row, Vanity Fair will have its big party for the editorial and advertising staff in January, after the holidays. A location hasn’t been determined yet. But some magazines have decided to sit the party season out.
Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, for example, has decided to give everyone a day off between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, instead of a holiday party this year. And Primedia has bypassed a big party like the one it had a year ago at the Marriott-Marquis. Instead, the company has made a $100,000 donation to the American Red Cross.
As for the fashion companies, charity is taking precedence over partying.
Polo Ralph Lauren, which usually doesn’t have a big holiday party, has organized the American Heroes Volunteers Initiative, whereby its employees are encouraged to get involved in various volunteer projects around the city for a two-week period. Among the 12 programs available to employees is Art Start, an after-school program at a children’s homeless shelter. The company also will answer the children’s Santa letters.
“Polo gave the gifts and covered all the food and beverage at the [shelter] party,” said a Polo spokeswoman.
These activities will culminate with a special screening Dec. 11 for all Polo employees in New York and New Jersey of “Ocean’s Eleven.”
Meanwhile, Donna Karan International will again give its employees the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, while Calvin Klein will be making contributions to the New York City Police Foundation Heroes Fund and the New York Fire Fighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund instead of giving gifts to the press.
Tommy Hilfiger Corp. will donate the money that would have been allocated to a holiday party to the relief efforts, as will Anne Klein, which is instead sending customers and vendors holiday cards with donations to the Sept. 11, 2001 Children’s Fund Inc. And Tahari has canceled its party, but instead will donate flags to the New York City Board of Education to display at schools.

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