Booze or Bust? Hosting a Holiday Party No One Will Regret

It’s that time of year again! The annual holiday party is coming up, and with it the million-dollar question: “Will people come to our staff party if we don’t serve alcohol?” You want your team to have fun and let loose, but you also want to promote employee safety and to protect yourself from a liability standpoint.


“Break free from your holiday party rut and stand out from the crowd by celebrating the holidays in a different way this year.”

While we’re not saying you should or shouldn’t serve alcohol at staff celebrations, there are a lot of other ways to ensure you have a fabulous holiday celebration that people actually want to attend.

Here are a few fresh (alcohol optional) holiday party ideas:

1. Plan a unique event in lieu of a traditional holiday party. You don’t have to do it a certain way just because that’s how everyone else does it! How about bowling? Or going carolling as a team? Or organizing a cookie exchange, taking a cooking class, or wrapping gifts for sick kids at a children’s hospital. An activity to focus on makes the celebration more about having fun as a team and creating memories, and less about standing around talking and drinking.

2. Pick a theme for your party and take the party off-site. Having a theme encourages participation and creates a buzz around the office before the event. Try hosting an Ugly Sweater Party complete with a sweater decorating station, or celebrate diversity and share employee traditions with a Holidays Around the World theme.

3. Switch things up by hosting a holiday breakfast or lunch instead. There’s no need to manage alcohol if you plan an early-in-the-day event, and it ensures you have less competition when staff are deciding what event to attend. With lots of late nights and overindulging, evening events can seem like a lot of pressure, so breakfast or lunch can be a relaxing and refreshing change for everyone.

4. Make it a family affair. Involve the kids, have Santa join you, and make it fun for people of all ages. Family-friendly events also tend to involve less drinking and more eating.

And if you do decide to serve alcohol at your event, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Plan your party for a week night. Having to get up for work the next day often slows down how much people drink.
  • Always have taxi vouchers available. The best-laid plans to have a designated driver don’t always pan out. Taxi vouchers make it easy to accept a safe ride home.
  • Don’t allow guests to pour their own drinks. Hire a bartender, which protects you from “social host liability” by having to monitor how much people are drinking.
  • Have a TON of food throughout the event. Eating and drinking go best together.
  • Stop serving alcohol with plenty of time before people start going home.
  • Have lots of non-alcoholic beverage options available throughout the evening.

Your Engaged Assignment: Break free from your holiday party rut and stand out from the crowd by celebrating the holidays in a different way this year. If you’ve already planned this year’s celebration, it’s never too early to start planning for next year!