It may have been 8.30 in the morning, but there were party hats and crackers on the table. The drinks, however, were strictly non-acoholic.
City workers in London's financial district have been spotted having sober Christmas party breakfasts in the past week. The trend to share seasonal scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with colleagues seems particularly appropriate, given the hair-shirt approach now expected of bankers.
Holding a bucks fizz-free breakfast rather than the traditional boozy dinner or cocktail party cuts down on the cost of a Christmas shindig and the opportunity for indiscretions that may end up in damaging and costly employment tribunals.
Not everyone has been so cautious, however.
Someone at RBS, which is 83 per cent owned by taxpayers, thought it a wizard idea to host a £250 (Dh1,417) a head Harry Potter-themed party last month, complete with a mocked-up Diagon Alley and quidditch players on broomsticks.
The party, at the Science Museum at the end of last month, was for clients of RBS's investment banking division and their families.
Such lavishness is now unusual, however, as the bank is keen to point out. For its own 160,000 staff globally, it has allocated £10 a head for Christmas celebrations.
Lloyds, 41 per cent owned by the British taxpayer, is spending £35 a head on parties.
Employees of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Barclays Capital have been allowed low-key departmental parties. However, some of these were paid from the bosses' own pockets.
London bond traders and hedge fund managers who enjoyed a good year will celebrate in private. The newly refurbished Savoy is proving a popular venue, as are the private dining rooms of Scotts in Mayfair, and Claridge's. Bookings have been made, discreetly, in the names of individuals, rather than companies.
The low-key party season is in stark contrast to Wall Street, where bankers are splashing the cash about again, unashamedly. But then banker-bashing remains the UK's pre-eminent pastime and something that at least three of the country's most senior politicians indulged in over the weekend.
But all this sound and fury may yet signify nothing.
The public mood for change is not abating, but the politicians are acutely aware that they risk alienating the golden goose. They have to find a way of looking tough, while not hampering a part of the economy that is recovering strongly.
Financial services companies paid £53.4 billion in tax in the year to March, £8bn less than the previous year but once again were the single biggest contributor to the national purse, with 11.2 per cent of the UK's total tax take.
Negotiations are under way between bank chiefs and the Treasury over how much will be paid out in next year's bonus round. It's a face-saving exercise that will ultimately result in bankers being paid more, not less.
To get around new rules that will see European bankers paid differently from those in the US, banks have been steadily raising basic salaries to make up for lower bonuses. Now that they are being ordered to limit cash payouts to no more than 20 per cent of the total bonus - the rest to be paid in shares that vest over a prolonged period - basic salaries could rise by as much as half.
Even the threat from the banks that they will end up leaving London looks a little hollow in the face of this week's decision by JP Morgan to spend £500 million on a swanky new London headquarters.
Just like Christmas with the in-laws, a few home truths over bonuses and pay restraint may be uttered in the next few days. But when the air is cleared, the financial sector will get back to the party.