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Client Update: 12 tips for the company holiday party

Mark Tector and Killian McParland

‘Tis again the season for the company holiday party. And while the party planners are starting to break out the eggnog, there are some lessons learned from seasons past to keep in mind to ensure that the party runs smoothly and safely for all.

Employers should be aware that they can be responsible both for what happens during the holiday party and, sometimes, for what happens after. With that in mind, and borrowing from the “12 days of Christmas”, here are our 12 tips for the company holiday party:

  1. Remind employees that they are to conduct themselves appropriately and that the company’s policies – including the anti-harassment, respectful workplace, and social media policies – continue to apply.
  2. Make attendance voluntary and invite significant others.
  3. No mistletoe.
  4. No open bar.
  5. If alcohol is offered, make sure to offer non-alcoholic options as well and to manage alcohol intake – for example, by providing drink tickets.
  6. Promote responsible drinking and hire professional bartenders.
  7. Ensure that plenty of food is available when serving alcohol.
  8. With its recent legalization, remind employees of the company’s policies in relation to Cannabis, which may include a ban on the use of recreational Cannabis at work events.
  9. For bigger parties you may also consider hiring security (if not provided by the host location). Alternatively, for smaller parties, consider designating someone to monitor the event.
  10. Distribute taxi vouchers (or other transport, such as chartering a bus) to ensure that everyone gets home safe and sound.
  11. Depending on the circumstances and location, arrange for there to be hotel rooms available nearby (perhaps at a discounted or group price) if anyone can’t make it home. Communicate such options to employees prior to the event.
  12. Security or the designated monitor should be keeping an eye out for anyone who may be impaired – whether due to alcohol or other substances including Cannabis. Any impaired guest should not be allowed to drive. If there is resistance, the authorities may need to be called.

Putting the above tips into practice is not about being a holiday “Grinch”, but taking reasonable steps in order to promote a holiday party that is both safe and merry.


This update is intended for general information only. If you have questions about the above, please contact a member of our Labour and Employment group.

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