From “Santa pimps” and country-club cuisine to cubicle-decorating contests and charitable fund-raising and toy drives, the real estate industry is ringing in the holiday season in many ways, and Inman News couldn’t resist getting the inside scoop on company parties this year.

Prudential Douglas Elliman, New York City

One thousand Realtors will eat and drink to their heart’s content at Manhattan’s swanky Four Seasons Restaurant tonight. Prudential Douglas Elliman will do it all over again in the Hamptons for another 1,000 agents. That is a lot of Realtor mouths to feed, almost as many as the National Association of Realtors’ mid-year convention. Last year, Gloria Gaynor sang, “We will survive.” Indeed, the Elliman crew did.

Baird & Warner, Chicago

More than 250 employees on Friday will hit the buffet and open bar and rock out to a live DJ on the cruise ship “Mystic Blue” courtesy of Chicago brokerage Baird & Warner. The company is also celebrating its 150th anniversary with framed photos of Chicago, souvenirs and stunning views of the city’s skyline from the ship’s windows (hopefully, no one will have too many drinks and fall overboard).

Last year’s party was at Chicago’s House of Blues club, and the company’s 91-year-old patriarch John W. Baird shook that thing on the dance floor.

Planet IDX, Las Vegas

Rob Emerick, president of Planet IDX, a real estate technology company in Las Vegas, said employees are taking a non-traditional approach to the holidays this year. “For Christmas this year we are having a ‘Santa Pimp’ party where we all come dressed up as a jolly pimp. Only in Vegas. We’ll walk down the Las Vegas strip, passing on our season cheer and handing out candy canes,” said Emerick.

Colorado Insurance Department, Denver

In sharp contrast is the planned holiday party at the Colorado Department of Insurance, whose deputy commissioner Erin Toll sparked off a nationwide scandal with her probe of title insurers this year.

“We raise money through our vending machines and garage sales to pay for the holiday party,” said Michael Mawinney, assistant to the Department’s Commissioner, David Rivera.

“This year, we reserved a big event center room in the Denver Post building and all the employees are invited and it’s a potluck.” Apparently no taxpayers’ money is wasted on internal events at the commission.

Metrocities Mortgage, Woodland Hills, Calif.

Austerity was definitely not in evidence at Metrocities Mortgage’s Southern California party Dec. 3 at the Marriott Hotel in Woodland Hills, Calif. The romance of the 1940s big band era was the theme, and approximately 650 guests were treated to sweeping big band sounds, performances by professional swing dancers, ’40s-tinged sepia-toned memento photos, a “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” year-in-review presentation and light-up yo-yos. (Slinkies and yo-yos were the rage in the ’40s).

National Association of Realtors, Chicago

In Chicago, the National Association of Realtors, is having its holiday party Dec. 16 at a suitably impressive location – the InterContinental Chicago. The hotel is one of the city’s most luxurious, and was originally built in 1929 as an exclusive men’s club.

Chicago NAR staffers will assemble at the hotel at 1 p.m. for a buffet with ham, turkey and other goodies and musical entertainment – last year, a jazz trio rocked the house, according to a Chicago NAR staffer.

LendingTree, Charlotte, N.C.

The estimated 300 guests who attended LendingTree’s holiday bash in Charlotte, N.C., last weekend were greeted with flower leis upon entering the shindig, which centered on an island theme, according to a LendingTree spokeswoman. Attendees enjoyed jerked chicken, marinated vegetables and other island treats, as well as music and dancing. Many left with a unique memento of the night as the company had set up a green screen backdrop that people stood in front of and had their pictures taken so that it looked like they’d been floating with the fishes.

Stewart Title Guaranty Co., Houston

Stewart Title Guaranty Co. held its holiday party Dec. 3 at the Houstonian, a four-star hotel in Houston. About 300 people attended the dinner party, which had a unique angle: “Everyone brought toys and other gifts for an outfit here in Houston called Star of Hope. The organization works with homeless men, women and children. Malcolm Morris’ grandfather, one of the founders of Stewart, was also one of the founders of Star of Hope,” said a Stewart spokeswoman.

ENeighborhoods, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Greg Robertson, vice president of marketing for real estate information and technology company eNeighborhoods in West Palm Beach, Fla., said his company will christen its new office location, which is one floor above the office space the company now occupies (so they don’t have to worry much about annoying the downstairs neighbor), with a holiday party.

“Beneath the exposed ceilings, cables that go to nowhere, and torn up carpet, we are catering a holiday celebration on the fifth floor. Food, fun and champagne,” Robertson said, jokingly adding, “So I guess if anyone gets sick, it won’t matter … because they can’t stain a carpet if it doesn’t exist yet.”

Craigslist, San Francisco

The holiday party thrown by Craigslist customer service rep and founder Craig Newmark for his 18-person staff was in San Francisco’s trendy but boho Mission District on Dec. 14.

“The kids arranged it,” said the typically modest Newmark. “You know kids these days. You kids, get off my lawn.” The group had dinner at Medjool, a Mediterranean restaurant.

Dishes on the Medjool menu include harissa-crusted hangar steak and chicken with almond-pomegranate sauce. The restaurant has hanging glass lamps and orange-and-gold walls, and sounds like a perfect spot for some relaxation for the hardworking Newmark, who said he would be working over the holidays.

Though not technically a real estate entity, online classified ad site Craigslist has made a huge impact on newspaper classified advertising around the country.

RE/MAX International, Parker, Colo.

Bill Echols, a spokesman for RE/MAX International, said the company has an “office and cubicle decorating contest” and the company’s franchise owners and board of directors is hosting a holiday gala at “The Wildlife Experience Museum” in Parker, Colo., that will include a banquet, dance band and a special screening of a film. The interactive museum teaches visitors about wildlife, habitats and environmental preservation.

Terre Haute Area Association of Realtors, Terre Haute, Ind.

The Terre Haute Area Association of Realtors in Indiana held a semi-formal banquet dinner at a local conference center, complete with a social hour (hors d’oeuvres and cash bar), dinner buffet (“carved roast beef and stuffed chicken breast with all the trimmings”), live music (a band called “MacDaddy’s”), a photographer, and door prizes. The association collected toys and monetary donations for an annual toy drive.

Douglas/Elbert Realtor Association, Castle Rock, Colo.

The Douglas/Elbert Realtor Association of Castle Rock, Colo., held a holiday party at a local golf club. The entrance fee: a teddy bear, to be donated to a victim’s assistance group. The party featured a pasta bar, door prizes, a “surprise visitor,” cash bar and live music.

Realtors Association of Northeast Wisconsin, Green Bay, Wis.

Meanwhile, the Realtors Association of Northeast Wisconsin held a “Green Bay Area Holiday Party” at a local golf and riding club in Green Bay, Wis. Entree choices included filet mignon ($34), chicken Orleans with two jumbo shrimp ($30), and “shrimp four seasons,” featuring shrimp with peppers, onions and garlic served over angel hair pasta. Fond du Lac-area members are scheduled to gather on Dec. 15 for “affiliate-sponsored hors d’oeuvers, entertainment, door prizes and a special appearance by Santa,” and members are encouraged to bring a toy to donate to the Salvation Army’s annual Toys for Tots campaign.

Inman News, San Francisco

We are back to the Rex Hotel in San Francisco on Dec. 19, our version of New York City’s venerable Algonquin Hotel (not quite the same, except in Inman News Publisher Bradley Inman’s mind.) Considering the year he had, you would think the scribes would be treated to an upgrade.


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