The holiday office party is beginning to make a comeback, but the one-time elaborate affairs are being replaced by toned-down events.

"Given the economy, companies don't want to put on elaborate affairs that wreak of excess," said Philip Kirschner, President of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. "I think you''ll see more sedate events this year like luncheons with very little alcohol.

In the past, many companies had lavish evening affairs with spouses, partners or companions. Now, more offices are opting to have events for employees only and they're often being held in the office."

The financial crisis that began three years ago brought many company holiday parties to a stop altogether. Many canceled because they couldn't afford a party or because layoffs or cutbacks made the prospect of a celebration look irresponsible. As 2011 winds down, companies want to celebrate having made it through a difficult year. "The idea is to try to be tasteful while keeping it within reasonable bounds," said Kirschner.

"It's a good sign that the holiday party is making a comeback," said Kirschner. "It's good for employee morale and it's important for staff members to get together. But, I think the days of the lavish evening affairs are over."