How to Plan a Stress-Free Holiday Office Party

Pre-planning is the key to successful holiday partying. Follow these steps and your biggest worry at your holiday party will be whether to chill the wine or just to chill.

Step 1: Manage the Mood
Most importantly, take steps to ensure that your event is inclusive and welcoming of all employees, regardless of differences in religion or ethnic background. Then, decide on your guest list. Will your party be a family affair with employees’ significant others and children? Will you invite customers and clients? Be aware that choices like inviting customers and clients, holding your event during work hours, and requiring employee attendance may transform your otherwise voluntary social opportunity into work time. Notify employees beforehand that you are looking forward to a great event and that irresponsible behavior or excessive drinking will not be tolerated.

Step 2: Step Away from the Cocktail Shaker
Hold an alcohol-free event. If you serve alcohol, hold your event at an off-site location with a liquor license or hire professional bartenders. Licensed professionals will check IDs before serving guests and cut inebriated drinkers off if need be. Limit alcohol consumption and serve plenty of food and nonalcoholic beverages. Avoid self-service alcohol situations. Under no circumstances should alcohol be served to minors or obviously intoxicated employees or guests. Provide alternative transportation home for anyone who has had too much to drink.

Step 3: Take Down the Mistletoe
Avoid creating a risqué or sexually suggestive party atmosphere. Take down the mistletoe, avoid sexually explicit music or entertainment, and leave any inappropriate gifts at home. While you are at it, turn the lights up to illuminate dark corners and hire coat check people for the coatroom.

Step 4: Work Some Behind-The-Scenes Magic
Chose a few unlucky attendees to work the party. Instruct them to keep their eyes peeled for the first sign of trouble. Empower them to act quickly to address problem situations like obviously intoxicated guests or inappropriate behavior, if they occur.

Step 5: Wind It Down
End the party early. Close the bar before the end of the party, but keep the food and the dancing going for a bit longer.

Access our FYI Workers’ Compensation: Managing Liability for Recreational, Athletic, and Social Activities for more information.