A couple of years ago one of our client companies did a survey about company sponsored holiday parties. Asking employees to rate how they felt about attending a party, 48% rated it below going to the dentist. In any case holiday parties are a staple this time of year and you may still have time to plan wisely and avoid pitfalls.
According to a survey by search firm Battalia Winston International, a vast majority (86%) of companies that host holiday parties will serve alcohol. If your company is in that majority, here are some steps to keep the party safe and free of unwanted problems.

  • Remind employees that company policies related to behavior at work also apply to company-sponsored events, even when employees are off the clock and off the premises.
  • Limit the number of alcoholic drinks per employee. For example, use drink tickets or have a two-drink maximum. Offer an unlimited amount of non-alcoholic beverages, as well. And definitely do not offer all-night open bar.
  • Stop serving alcohol 2 hours prior to the end of the party so all employees have a chance to sober up and instruct bartenders not to serve any employee or guest who appears impaired or is acting loud and inappropriate.
  • Provide for transportation in case some employees are not able to drive home. Keep the phone numbers of local taxi services on hand or arrange for cabs to be waiting outside at the end of the event. Consider booking a few rooms at a nearby hotel, on the company’s dime, just in case.

Party food choices can influence how alcohol is absorbed by the drinker and since you’re trying to avoid any embarrassing alcohol-related incidents, choose foods that are high in protein and starch. Avoid greasy or salty foods because they tend to increase beverage consumption.
It is important to take the focus off of drinking by having engaging entertainment. You don’t need to break the bank on this, ask staff members for suggestions, games, skits and raffles are silly and fun. And if you want dancing, there are usually amateur DJ’s available at holiday time. Check with you employees or call area high schools and colleges.
Also, consider having drawings for small prizes, such as movie passes and gift certificates to local salons and restaurants. Awards for service or silly certificates could keep employees engaged. This will hopefully give everyone an incentive to stay sober because they have to pay attention to listen for their names or raffle numbers, and that becomes trickier as alcohol’s effects take over.
Have a good time but stack the deck in favor of responsible drinking behavior.


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