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shutterstock_160194116-300x300It’s that time of year again! The annual holiday party is coming up and with it comes the age old issue, “will people come to our staff party if we don’t serve alcohol?” and then comes the question, “what is our liability if we serve alcohol at the party?” Good questions to be asking!

There are a number of things you can do to ensure you have a fabulous Christmas party that people actually want to attend! Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Create an event instead of a Christmas party like every other Christmas party out there. Maybe try bowling or Christmas caroling. Perhaps do a cookie exchange and gift wrap presents for sick kids at the hospital. In Victoria, you can go skating at the Empress Hotel. An event makes the party more memorable, more fun, and less about standing around, talking and drinking. 
  2. Create a theme to your party and take the party off-site. Parties with themes tend to draw more attention and create more buzz around the office. Themes like Ugly Christmas Sweater parties are popular.
  3. Switch things up and host a Christmas lunch or pancake breakfast. No need to manage alcohol in those settings and it also ensures you have less competition for what event to attend. Low attendance at a Christmas party can often be because another event was more interesting!
  4. Make it a family affair. Involve the kids, have Santa join you and make it fun for people of all ages. Family events tend to involve less drinking and more eating.

 Some other tips to keep in mind if you are serving alcohol:

  1. Plan your party for a week night. Having to get up for work the next day often slows down how much people drink.
  2. Always have taxi vouchers available. Best laid plans to have a designated driver don’t always happen. Having taxi vouchers make it easy to accept a ride home.
  3. 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.
  4. Have a TON of food. Eating and drinking go best together.
  5. Stop serving alcohol plenty of time before people start going home and have lots of non-alcoholic options available throughout the evening.

Your Engaged HR Assignment: Look for a different way to have your Christmas party this year and stand out from the crowd by doing something different. Find a new and different event to attend or create for your team and tell us all about it!

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