The office Christmas party, meanwhile, has become less of a holiday tradition and more of a nice holiday surprise. A survey by employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that 83% of companies held an office Christmas party last year, compared with just 70% the year before. Of last year's revelers, 10.3% were companies that were having their first Christmas parties after one or more post-recession years without one. While a survey by outplacement firm Amrop Battalia Winston is a bit more optimistic in stating that 96% of companies will throw a Christmas party this year, it comes just two years after only 74% of companies said they were in a partying mood.
Even Christmas music that's ubiquitous on radio this time of year hasn't been immune to the changing times. Last year, Nielsen (NLSN) Soundscan reported a 7.1% drop in album sales between Nov. 5 and Dec. 30 from the same period a year before. The holiday music genre, meanwhile, saw its digital track sales drop 12%, from 13.7 million purchases in 2011 to 12.1 million last year.
But none of the above is Ebenezer Scrooge, the Grinch or Mr. Potter at work killing Christmas traditions and replacing them with commercial misery. They're just a transition into new traditions and improvements on old but beloved elements of the holiday.
Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) can offer shares to investors partially because of all of your status updates, photo uploads to their sites and Facebook-owned Instagram and the increased connection between you and the ones you love -- or at least know from the office or high school. The Christmas card may not be as pervasive as it once was, but as The Atlantic's Madrigal points out, it's also no longer the thoughtless, mass-mailed piece of cardboard bosses had their secretaries sign and send out to employees and that Americans just bought by the gross and sent indiscriminately to everyone in their Rolodex. Not only is the artistry of the great Christmas card still there, but getting one is perhaps an even greater honor than it once was because of the thought and effort applied to it.
Besides, now holiday well-wishers who aren't so deft with the pen or camera can relay their message face-to-face through Microsoft's (MSFT) Skype, Apple's (AAPL) Facetime, Google (GOOG) Hangouts or any number of other video conferencing services once relegated to corporate meetings. To a far-off relative whose Christmas wish is just to hear your voice or see your face, that holds more value than a staged photo taken in a dated, forgotten corner of a discount store or a list of the year's highlights.