Updated December 2017
Throwing a holiday party sounds simple enough, but there are a few things to keep in mind before you throw the bash of the century for your employees. You obviously have your employees’ best interest at heart, especially when you’re throwing a holiday party to celebrate such a joyous time of the year and all the hard work that’s been put in throughout the year! But as an employer, you’re the host of the holiday party, and if you provide alcohol to a guest who is already drunk, you may become liable if that guest causes any damage or injury. And no one wants that to happen. To help avoid risks like this during such a fun and festive time, we have a few tips for you to throw a holiday party legally and safely.
Create event planning contracts
If you’ve ever organized an event of any kind, you know it’s a long process. The first thing you want to do is to secure a venue that can accommodate all your employees comfortably. Once you find the right fit for the occasion, it’s important that you draft up a Facilities Rental Agreement. In it, you can specify details like deposits and rules.
As you continue to plan for the holiday party, be sure to create contracts with anyone who you go into business with. For example, if you’re thinking of hiring a DJ for the party, it’s important that you create a specific DJ Contract so that you and the DJ are both in agreement over details like start time and length of service.
Remind employees of policies
Your employees are probably well aware of all the legal and company policies outlined in your Employee Handbook. However, they may not be so aware that these policies do in fact apply to events that happen outside of the workplace and work hours. Before the holiday party, send out a reminder to your employees of any sexual harassment policies or other relevant rules that may apply to the holiday party so everyone is on the same page. Let them know that as much as you want all your employees to have a good time, it’s still a company party that frowns upon inappropriate behavior.
Implement a dress code
Whether your workplace implements a dress code or not, it may be a safer bet to implement a dress code for the holiday party. Even though the event is outside of the workplace, you still want your employees to be dressed in an appropriate way so no one feels uncomfortable.
Hand out drink tickets
As previously discussed, you’re responsible for your guests’ alcohol consumption, especially if you provide more alcohol to a drunk guest. Naturally, many of your employees will want to let their hair down and get loose but you can help limit their alcohol consumption by issuing drink tickets so no one drinks more than they need to.
Hire a bartender
Another way to limit heavy alcohol consumption is to hire professional bartenders. Before their shift, request that they keep their eyes and ears open for anyone who has had too much to drink. If certain guests seem like they’ve had more than their share, let the bartenders know that they have the power to stop serving alcohol to them.
If you do end up hiring a bartender, be sure to create a Bartending Contract. In this agreement, you can outline all the important details for the holiday party and make sure the bartender understand all the expectations and responsibilities of the job, including monitoring employees that may have had too much to drink.
Serve food and other non-alcoholic drinks
Provide a variety of food and non-alcoholic drinks so people have other items to consume other than alcohol. This will encourage people to snack on food and enjoy soft drinks to dilute any alcohol they may have already consumed.
Offer rides and shuttles
A great way to ensure that no one drives home drunk is to offer shuttles to all your guests. If shuttles aren’t possible, you can always reimburse your employees for taxi rides so that everyone gets home safe and sound without worrying about who will be the designated driver.
If you still have questions regarding what you need to do to make sure your holiday party stays legal and safe, you can always ask a question to an attorney.