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Tip for Planning Your Office Holiday Party

It’s that time of year – the time when there seems to be a different social event every evening. In addition to getting together with friends and loved ones this holiday season, you will likely attend an office holiday party.

Holiday parties can get dicey – employees overindulge, resulting in NSFW behavior, or parties are poorly planned and result in offending more people than they entertain. As the planner of your workplace holiday get-together, there are several guidelines you should follow during the planning process. If you are in charge of this holiday season’s workplace celebration, here are a few things you should know:

Be All-Inclusive, Instead of All-Exclusive

If it seems as if companies and organizations have so watered down their celebrations to avoid offending certain religious or non-religious employees, it’s because this is what has happened. Your best bet? Include everyone in your celebration. Call your work event a holiday party and acknowledge all of the holidays celebrated this time of year. Invite employees to attend and celebrate whichever holiday they observe.

This all-inclusive policy ends when it comes to the invitee list. You are better off limiting the guest list for several reasons. Most companies invite employees only, or employees and one guest. Be sure to refer to that guest as “guest,” “partner,” or “plus one.” Calling the additional guest a spouse alienates any employee that is not legally married. Extending invitations to contractors, vendors, and others affiliated with your company opens a Pandora’s Box of trouble and causes the cost of the party to balloon, so you are better off not extending the invite.

It might also be a good idea to have exclusions when it comes to alcohol. If you permit employees to bring minor guests to the party, it is reasonable to serve only non-alcoholic beverages. Also remember, even if your party is for adults only, there can be legal and ethical complications inviting employees to consume alcohol and then drive home from the party. Alcohol can be an excuse to behave poorly, which can result in harassment issues, so hosting a “dry” party might be the better choice.

If it is important to you to offer alcohol at your holiday office party, set clear expectations of employees and hire a professional bartender to serve the alcohol. A ticket system or cash bar can also effective for limiting drinks.

Has your office holiday party resulted in legal action? We can help. Contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a consultation.

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