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Here's the 2015 Re/code Tech and Media Holiday Party Report Card

Featuring Miami's only experimental cocktail fire lounge.

nikkytok / Shutterstock

Tech companies like throwing parties, and media companies that have a few bucks to spare like throwing them, too.

December holiday parties are often gaudy affairs that can involve renting out city halls, GIF-making photo booths, Counting Crows, food spreads that could alleviate hunger in several small countries and much, much more. And there are also different kinds of parties — those reserved for employees only, those organized by PR units for the press and company-wide galas.

But these parties are all exclusive. Normal people probably don’t care about them, because that would be like paying attention to the bar mitzvah circuit in a different city. That said, it’s still fun to take a look at the behind-the-scenes garishness, because the ostentatious parties of companies that may or may not exist in five years are still ostentatious parties, featuring the occasional celebrity.

Re/code has gathered a number of invitations to technology and media company holiday parties being held this month. We’re grading them, based on the description of the party itself and the quality of the invitation. Some notables, like BuzzFeed, are missing, because employees said they didn’t get any formal emails. Others, like Vice, are decidedly low-key in 2015, because they partied too hard and too publicly in 2014 (says one Vice employee, “It’s not going be a ‘thing’ this year like it was last year“).

And, as always, shoot me an email at noah@recode.net with a holiday party invite for a technology or media company if you’d like. We’ll be discreet. Here’s our report card, with some identifying information removed from the invitations:

Fusion

fusion party redactedThe party at Fusion’s Miami HQ sounds like it’s a blast. It’s taking place at “Miami’s only ice vodka bar and experimental cocktail fire lounge.”

The ice bar is filled with “100,000 pounds of pristine ice embedded with genuine crystal amidst spectacular ice sculptures.” Guests “can slip into plush faux fur coats” and watch the bartender perform a “fire show.” Basically, the Players Ball meets Burning Man — exciting!

We’ve also heard that Fusion’s New York office holiday party will take place at the East Village bar Black and White from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm on a Wednesday evening.

Easily the best invite we’ve come across, but it gets docked a few points for what sounds like a glorified happy hour at the New York office.

Grade: A-

Facebook

facebook party redacted
Although hot chocolate (yum!) with marshmallows (double yum!!) and a slyly placed product promotion in the upper-left corner are a thoughtful touch, adding “cocktails, food and conversation” to the mix sounds like a weekend couples’ retreat in a secluded cabin. Truthfully, that sounds really sweet, but it’s neither properly festive nor fantastical enough for a true holiday party.

That said, Verso is a decent venue.

Grade: C+

Gawker Media

The Gawker Media holiday party is shaping up to be a heck of a good time, provided you like looking stylish in varying shades of aluminum foil.

Here’s the email, sent by photographer Victor Jeffreys, who has previously taken great photos at Gawker Media and Talking Points Memo holiday parties:

From: Victor Jeffreys

Date: December 8, 2015, at 1:08:07 pm EST
To: NYC
Cc: Nick Denton, Heather Dietrick
Subject: A Holiday Happy Hour Look Book

Twinkle, Shine, Sparkle, and Shimmer — Because You Are a Star!

Here are suggestions for how to dress on Friday — please keep the following in mind:

+ These are only suggestions.

+ Aluminum foil can go a looooong way — I will have a couple hundred feet of it at the party — if you need help making an accessory, I am here for you!

+ You have [redacted] days until the party, we work across the street from an H&M and a couple of blocks from the best store ever, Strawberry — no one should have trouble finding something that sparkles.

+ Grills count and gender is fluid (look at Brad’s arms!)

Let me know if you have questions!

Get excited!

Humbly,

V

P.S.: If you hate this idea and need a hug, I am here for you!

The holiday party lookbook is a definite plus, but the lack of an email template is a hard minus. Also, Re/code has learned that the company previously planned on flying out its remote staffers for the party, but that’s since been scrapped. This makes sense, given the recent editorial restructuring at the company. We’ve also heard the “party” is now more of a “three-hour happy hour with no plus-ones.” That’s a bummer! The foil still sounds fun.

Grade: B-

Twitter

Here’s the Twitter email invite:

We’d love to have you join us as well as our executive team for an off-the-record evening of drinks, some light holiday fare, and conversations at our annual holiday party on [redacted] at Twitter HQ in San Francisco (1355 Market Street, 9th Floor), from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

Let me know if you can make it, and/or if there are other people on your team you’d like to attend — this invite isn’t transferable, but we’re open to making additions when asked. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Low-energy and nondescript, but a chance to get rowdy with Twitter’s executive team.

Grade: C-

CBS

cbs party redacted
The folks at CBS, according to Re/code Managing Editor Edmund Lee, throw the best of the Old Media parties. Judging by the invitation they sent out for their press party, that appears to be spot on!

In 191 words (!), CBS drops some Dickensian Christmas mythology with a story about Scrooge and a La-Z-Boy (!!) and then invokes the recently anointed high priest of late-night television himself, Stephen Colbert (!!!).

The pattern on the border of the invitation is the color of money, which is cool. It also promises “great food, great drinks, great people and many, many pigs in blankets.”

Wow! That’s great!

Grade: B+

NBCUniversal

nbc holiday party redacted
NBC has a lot of things going for it in this invitation. It is also a significant investor in Vox Media, which owns this website.

Highlighting New York City and 30 Rock is definitely a plus, because that way the guests will have a hard time getting lost on the way to the party.

Also, anyone who accuses NBC (or its more left-leaning cable news division) of waging a “War on Christmas” has to be way off. There is both a lit Christmas tree in the background and a wholesome seasonal pun in the title.

Bonus points for holiday spirit, but NBC loses some on calling their in-house celebs the “talent” in a party invitation.

Grade: B-

Vox Media

vox media sf holiday redactedVox Media is the company that owns this website, and it’s throwing three holiday parties this year — one for its Washington bureau, another for its New York City office and one in San Francisco (where Re/code is based).

The New York and Washington parties are on consecutive days, which means Vox Media employees could attend both, if they’d like to. You can also see the different Vox Media properties at the bottom of the invitation, to make sure that you actually like the websites owned by the company.

Different shades of blue on the same invitation design could be construed as lazy, but recycling is better for the planet.vox media holiday redacted

Grade: B+

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.