The Company Holiday Party – Not all Fun and Games for HR

The Company Holiday Party – Not all Fun and Games for HR Well, it is hard to believe that it is that time of year where companies (and typically HR) are determining what, if anything, will be planned to celebrate the upcoming Holiday Season.  Every year, there are legendary stories about employees who embarrass themselves

by having one too many alcoholic beverages or displaying some form of inappropriate behaviour during or after the official company celebration (and we all have the Smartphone pictures to prove it!). Although there are many things to be aware of from an HR and legal perspective, there are still ways to celebrate the season of good cheer and recognize the hard work of your team.  Here are some “Do’s and Don’ts” to make this year’s celebration a fun and safe event.


• Communicate your policy on “Rules of Conduct” and behaviour prior to the event if you do choose to serve alcohol (some companies have chosen not to and make it an afternoon affair)

• Hand out drink coupons to each person upon arrival, two per guest is a good rule of thumb – no open bar!

• Consider serving just beer and wine • Have an assortment of mocktails and non-alcoholic options

• Make it a sit down affair with plenty food, this slows down consumption (and absorption)

• Assign a handful of members from the management and HR team who volunteer to abstain for the night to watch for inappropriate behaviour or excessive drinking

• Stop serving alcohol a few hours before the party ends.  Bring out more food and alcohol-free drinks at this time

• Ensure that you provide your management team with additional information on safety and company liability issues – they need to set an example both in and outside of the workplace

• Arrange for no-cost taxi service or designated drivers to take people home if needed


• Allow any member of the management team to purchase alcoholic beverages for an employee during or after the official office party has ended – it opens up huge potential for company liability not to mention serious safety concerns for the well-being of staff should anyone be hurt, injured, harassed or assaulted as a result of drinking

• Allow managers to attend any post event functions, as this can give the illusion that the post event function is company sponsored

• Let anyone leave the party with an open drink. This too is a huge liability issue not only for the company but the caterer or event facility

• Allow guests to pour their own drinks – most people drink more when they serve themselves It is a festive time of the year that should be enjoyed. In most cases there are very few people who create any kind of an issue. The vast majority will of course enjoy the party and celebration in the spirit it was intended.   All it takes is some careful planning in advance. Happy Holidays to all and a safe and healthy 2013!