Only half of workers can expect a holiday bonus this year — even fewer if they work for a small business.

There is a 45 percent chance that Santa's elves got a holiday bonus this year.

A new survey by CareerBuilder found just how much holiday cheer employers were planning on spreading this year:

"Bonuses: Forty-five percent of employers are planning on giving their employees holiday bonuses this year, in line with 46 percent in 2012. Forty percent plan to provide the same size or larger bonus this year."

"Parties: Three in five (59 percent) employers are throwing company holiday parties for their workers in December (the same as 2012) and more than half (54 percent) expect them to be the size of last year's party or slightly bigger. Two in five workers say they plan to attend their company party this season."

"Gifts: Thirty-five percent of employers plan on giving their employees holiday gifts this year, on par with last year (36 percent)."

"During the recession and immediately following it, many companies had to cut back on holiday perks due to financial constraints," Rosemary Haefner with CareerBuilder told Forbes. "Now you're seeing holiday parties, bonuses and gift-giving becoming a regular occurrence again."

Gary Gerew at Albuquerque Business First summarizes the poll's take on less official bonuses — gifts from co-workers: "Twenty-two percent of workers plan on exchanging gifts with co-workers this holiday season, while 21 percent are buying a gift for their boss. The majority (78 percent) of workers who plan to buy gifts for their co-workers expect to spend $25 or less on each gift, 36 percent will spend $10 or less, and 10 percent will spend $5 or less."

A survey by American Express was less optimistic, however, for small businesses. "In fact, just 27 percent of small businesses are planning to offer holiday bonuses this year," reported Dan Cook at, "compared to 35 percent last year, according to an American Express survey."

Leigh Held at says for smaller businesses, the season is one of stress and budgeting. "Gone are the days when small businesses and companies could dish out bonus checks automatically around the holidays," she writes. "Given the prolonged lull in the economy, your lack of bonus may not be pegged at all to your performance."


Twitter: @degroote