December 16, 2004 12:00 PM PST
Tonight we're gonna party like it's--2004
Those and other lavish treats are appearing at more high-tech company holiday parties this year, as many firms splurge after several years of smaller, low-key functions. Although few are reviving the extravagant blowouts of the late '90s, this year's festivities signal that Silicon Valley is in the mood to celebrate again.
"Company holiday parties are definitely coming back," said Tony White, vice president of the Silicon Valley chapter of the National Association of Catering Executives and director of catering at the Cypress Hotel in Cupertino, Calif.
"People are doing more elaborate things," White said. "Decor is being upgraded from last year, and people are doing more elaborate desserts."
Fondue fountains, which feature multiple tiers of warm cascading chocolate, are a big hit at the hotel this year. The Cypress, which rents its ballroom for as much $12,000 a night, is hosting holiday bashes for several high-tech companies, including software maker PalmSource, semiconductor firm PLX Technology and game developer Capcom.
Other hot tickets in Silicon Valley this month were parties thrown by Cisco Systems, Google and Yahoo. Both Google and Yahoo went with island themes, which works well in laid-back California, where flip-flops are often the footwear of choice among software engineers.
Entertainment at the Google fete, held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, included a mechanical surf board, a hula dance troupe, tribal conga lines and a karaoke stage. Googlers and their guests were also offered grass skirts, tiki beads, henna tattoos and bindi facial jewelry as they grazed on buffets of sushi and Polynesian food.
At Yahoo's Treasure Island-theme party, held the following night at the Concourse Pavilion in San Francisco, partygoers were offered eye patches and other pirate accessories. They were also treated to casino games, sushi and performances by several local bands. But The Flaming Lips, the hip rock band that played at last year's party, did not return.
Yahoo spokeswoman Nicki Dugan wasn't aware that Google also had an island-theme holiday party. The companies, rivals in the Web search market, weren't in this case trying to outdo each other, she said.
"It's just a way to thank everyone for their hard work," Dugan said.
Cisco celebrated its 20th anniversary this month by indulging its employees in a private Carlos Santana concert at the San Jose
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