Wall Street holiday parties this year took place in luxury venues like the Waldorf Astoria, featured women dressed as glowing angels, and had fine wine, scotch and bourbon on hand.
But organizers of the soirées, conscious of tighter budgets and public scrutiny, are not eager to discuss the merriment.
Big financial firms started curtailing year-end bashes in 2008 as taxpayer bailouts, populist outrage and weak profits created an environment where lavish celebrations were frowned upon. Some investment banks stopped sponsoring corporate holiday parties altogether, advising individual teams to use their own budgets for more intimate gatherings.
Catering managers and event planners said that while holiday party spending is still down relative to its pre-financial crisis peak, Wall Street is starting to come back on the scene.
"It's a more optimistic climate," said Bill Spinner, director of catering at The Pierre, a Taj Hotel in New York.
The number of Wall Street firms with holiday events at The Pierre was steady this year, he said, but more people attended.
Other planners said the atmosphere was lighter in 2016, with winter wonderland and carnival themes featuring such flourishes as giant snow globe photobooths and game stations.
A Reuters review of the financial industry holiday scene found parties sponsored by Credit Suisse, Bank of New York Mellon, Moelis, BlackRock, Blackstone, KKR, Apollo Global Management, Pimco, AQR Capital Management, Bain Capital, York Capital Management, and Chilton Investment Management, among others.
Employees enjoyed themselves at swanky venues in New York, London, Boston, Chicago, Southern California, Sydney and Wroclaw, Poland, according to attendees and Instagram photos.