Holiday Party: Boosting Morale or Creating Legal Issues

Home » Holiday Party: Boosting Morale or Creating Legal Issues
Holiday Party

A Time to Be Mindful and Celebrate Responsibility

Your holiday party is more than just an end of year celebration. It’s a great opportunity to gather together employees for recreation, motivation, recognition, and teambuilding.

World class companies take the opportunity of a holiday party to steer the conversation away from alcohol and instead build camaraderie through employee appreciation.

Holiday Parties Create Corporate Culture

Company parties are a reflection of company reputation and corporate culture. It can be a great way to set the pace for the year ahead.

Many good things can happen during the holiday party. Everyone dresses up. Smart employees get a chance to work the room and network with seasoned colleagues. Managers get a chance to lead by example and build rapport with their employees. Invited spouses finally get to see the fabled “Doug in Accounting” in person.  


How Employees View the Holiday Party

“About one-third of employees like holiday parties, one-third are indifferent, and one-third don’t like them at all. They can be fun, sure, but many employees see them as an annoying, time-consuming obligation in a season when time is at a premium.” -Victor Lipman, Forbes.

Human Resources staff meanwhile, is sitting on pins and needles hoping that everyone acts responsibly and gets home safe. While these events can be fun and beneficial to morale, some issues need addressing.

A Word About Alcohol

Excessive drinking can lead to unwanted sexual advances, fights, or auto accidents. There are risks of employees driving while under the consumption of alcohol following such an event, as well as the risks of inappropriate behavior which alcohol can elicit.

Drinking too much at the office party is one of the quickest ways to derail your career.

Minimize Alcohol, Minimize Risk

If you want to minimize the chances of overconsumption use drink tickets. Offer beer and wine as opposed to liquor. Use a professional bartender to identify those who have been overserved. Have taxis or transportation available to those who need them.

Games Over Alcohol

Avoid the potential trappings of embarrassment, gossip, and potential legal issues by moving the conversation away from alcohol. HR professionals can plan the holiday party with other games and icebreakers so that alcohol is not the focal point.

For ideas on engaging attendees, foster teamwork and bonding through these various team building games. Again, the holiday party is an important time to create an upstanding and understanding company culture. Mix games with rewards and recognition. People want praise and appreciation more than they want to “cut loose.”   

Tips for Organizing a Holiday Party

  • Set expectations beforehand. Let your managers lead by example. Meet with management beforehand and debrief them on expected decorum
  • Make accomodations for employees’ religious, cultural, and dietary preferences
  • As the organizer, you have a few options. You can set the party 1) Day or Night, 2) Onsite or Offsite, 3) Employees Only or Guests Allowed

Final Thoughts

“Nearly 3 in 4 companies throw office parties.” -HRWorks

Why does the Washington Post report that fewer companies are throwing holiday parties? Part of it could be cost savings or lack of legal exposure. We think it’s because there is an educated conversation around equality and #MeToo in American culture. Being responsible is a difficult thing.  

World-class companies can agree: Bacchanalian festivities don’t lead to professionalism.

We leave you with TriNet’s infographic guide on holiday party planning, available here & below