7 Steps to a Happy (for HR) Holiday Party

It’s the holiday season, which means your company may be hosting a party. Add some alcohol, and HR goes on high alert! With the input of Laner Muchin, our labor law partners, we’ve put together some quick tips on how to have a safe and happy holiday party that protects your company from the unexpected.

Step 1

Have someone else take responsibility for alcohol. If possible, hold the event at a restaurant, bar or, if at work, catered with bartenders. In each of these cases, the restaurant, bar, or catering company serving the alcohol is responsible for monitoring consumption, not the employer. Make sure to confirm that the venue or catering company has insurance.


Step 2

Protect the Company. Ask employees to sign a waiver acknowledging that they are consuming alcoholic beverages at their own risk and will not hold the company responsible for reckless behavior or unwelcome actions.

Step 3

Set expectations. Send a company-wide email prior to the party with a reminder about the sexual harassment and drug/alcohol policies in the employee handbook. Make sure to point out that explicit behavior will result in discipline up to and including termination.

Step 4

Minimize driving if possible. Arrange for ground transportation like a van or bus to take employees to/from the party.

officeparty3Step 5

Incentivize. Offer to pay a “safety bonus” to employees who volunteer to be designated drivers.

Step 6

Provide information for a back-up plan. Distribute a list of hotels in the area with contact information so employees can easily book a room to avoid drinking and driving.

Step 7

Purchase extra protection. If it’s going to be a large event, secure an insurance policy specifically for the event to avoid excess liability.

Implementing all seven steps may be going a bit overboard, but think about your company, your employees and the kind of holiday party you plan to throw. And then consider implementing the steps that will not only make your holiday party a safety success, but one that would make an HR professional relax and enjoy the party too.

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