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Everyone loves a good holiday party, even if (or maybe especially when) that party is being thrown by the company you spend 40+ hours a week at. ‘Tis the season, and what better way to get into the spirit than with an excuse to kick back and enjoy your co-workers outside of the regular work environment?
I like a good party as much as the next girl, and I’m actually a big proponent of company sponsored holiday parties. They can present a really rare opportunity to create positive interactions with your staff outside of the office, something many companies may be sorely in need of after this stressful election year.
Getting your teams back on that path is always a good thing!
Of course, holiday parties also carry some risk to them… especially if you’re providing the alcohol. There is so much that could go right, but also a lot that can go wrong. Including drinking and driving, sexual harassment, and good old fashion public intoxication—which isn’t ever good for anyone’s professional reputation.
So let’s talk about that—the good, the bad, and the potentially dangerous (in terms of liabilities) when it comes to holiday parties.
First and foremost, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that an expensive, off-site, alcohol-fueled party is the only way to go. Yes, if you have the funds to rent out a venue and hire entertainment, catering, and an open bar, your staff is sure to have a good time. But not all companies can afford to go all-in like that, and that’s okay! You can do plenty even within office hours to help boost moral and take advantage of the season.
For instance, a mid-day gift exchange and potluck the week before Christmas can provide a fun excuse for your staff to step away from their desks. Plan for the party to last 2 to 3 hours, and then surprise your staff by telling them they can all go home early afterwards. With this type of party, you don’t run the same risks that you do when serving alcohol, and you’re able to put a bit more cash towards end-of-year bonuses.
Win-win!
Keep in mind, those types of get-togethers tend to work best for smaller companies with a staff size of 100 people or less. The larger your corporation, the more your employees are going to expect in terms of a celebration. Plus, it would probably be a lot harder to accommodate 300 people for a workday celebration than it would be to find room for 50.
So if you’re realizing an off-site party is the only option you really have, ask yourself these questions first:

  1. What’s your overall budget? Remember, as much as people like a good party… they tend to like a good end-of-year bonus more.
  2. Are you inviting spouses and children? This likely depends a lot on your current staff makeup; how many are married with kids? If you do invite kids, remember to have a few child-friendly events going on throughout the party. A visit from Santa can be a great inclusion!
  3. How are you going to handle booze? Companies across the country throw holiday parties with alcohol every year, so don’t let the potential liabilities keep you from doing the same. But be smart about how you’re serving your staff. Ahead of the party, make sure to send an e-mail about responsible drinking and company expectations. And at the party, consider limiting drinks by providing drink tickets to each employee. Once they’ve used their allotted drinks, they’ll have to go elsewhere if they want more.

It’s been a long year, and your employees could probably use a good excuse to celebrate. So don’t hesitate to party it up this year, just make sure you’re fully considering the good, the bad, and the dangerous of holiday party season!

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