It’s that time of year again—the silly season is upon us! Staff merrily decorate the office with Christmas trees, decorations, and blinding amounts of tinsel. But you may be feeling somewhat nervous, as the employer, about what shenanigans could take place at the office Christmas party.

What I am going to say next may sound a little Ba Humbug! However, it’s crucial as an employer that you understand your role and responsibilities when organising a well-earned Christmas party.

Your Christmas party responsibilities as an employer

As an employer, you have a duty of care for all your employees while at work. This also extends to work-related functions such as Christmas parties, even if these events are after-hours and offsite.

You must take steps to ensure the safety of all employees such as:

Make sure the event is at a safe venue

  • excessive amounts of alcohol are not consumed
  • a drug and alcohol policy, and harassment and discrimination policy are in place
  • ensuring that everyone is aware of the behaviour expected.


Five tips for the work Christmas party

Five tips and tricks to help you launch and enjoy a successful end-of-year party whilst avoiding the office hangover—and a bonus Secret Santa tip!

1. Set the expectations

The Christmas party behavioural expectations for an employee are the same as if they were at work. Employees need to be aware of the consequences of any misconduct.

As an employer, you may be liable for any inappropriate behaviour, including bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination of employees at work Christmas parties.

This also includes worker’s compensation claims for any employees who are injured on their way home from the Christmas party.

It’s extremely important to make sure that employees have access to safe transportation after the event.

Sexual harassment and bullying claims can arise from work events (and typically when alcohol is consumed). It’s a very good idea to remind employees of company polices that apply even when attending work-sanctioned events.

For example, policies include:

  • bullying and harassment
  • social media
  • code of conduct
  • and drugs and alcohol policies.

This will ensure your employees are up to speed with the expectations and consequences relating to them when attending such events.

An email that is appropriately worded (without sounding like the ‘fun police’) should get the message across.

Follow these steps to guarantee your office Christmas party goes smoothly. You don’t want to be having any awkward conversations Monday morning about how John vomited all over the Director after verbally abusing him! Or how Mary decided to show everyone her pole dancing skills while using Tom as the pole! Trust me it happens all too often!

2. Put on bar tab limits

Most parties get out of hand as a result of people drinking too much booze, with not enough responsible service of alcohol.

Having a bar tab and limiting the range of drinks will help. Also, make sure there is a variety of low-strength alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks available for those who don’t drink.

3. Make it a feast

Avoid being the Christmas Grinch and make sure there is enough food to go around. ‘Not enough food’ is a common complaint following a party.

I remember going to a Christmas party once and not seeing any food. I asked my manager where the food was and I was told the food was being eaten by a growing crowd of hungry guests standing beside the kitchen door pouncing on the waiters upon their exit! The poor waiters never made it further than three feet from the kitchen door!

So, give it thought and talk with the venue manager about how much food will be plenty for everyone and how it will be shared with guests.

4. Keep yourself nice

It might be tempting to let your hair down and blow off some steam. But it’s important to drink in moderation and to remember that keeping a good reputation is paramount. Especially for the staff who you are responsible for, clients, and the obvious one, yourself.

5. A sleep-in would be nice

If staff is expected to work the following day, it might be worth considering a one-off late start time. This may reduce the number of hangover-related absences. At worst there may be a few trips to the coffee shop for some strong lattes and cheese and tomato toasties—they’re the best!

6. Keeping Secret Santa appropriate

No matter how small an office might be, there is usually one thing that happens every year, and that is Secret Santa.

I once received a complaint from an employee because their Secret Santa gift was a candy dispenser that looked like a pig where the candy exited from its…ummm… backside. What fun that was to investigate!

So, my short note here on Secret Santa might save you from a headache. Brief staff at the start of the gifting game about the appropriateness of such gifts.

Aim for gifts that are unlikely to offend and advise that gifts of a sexually inappropriate or suggestive nature – or gifts that could be in breach of company polices with respect to bullying and harassment or code of conduct – are a big no-no.

Chrismas Party wrap up

Ensure all your workplace policies (esp. drug and alcohol) are up to date and ask staff to refresh themselves on these policies before the big event. Without trying to sound too much like a Scrooge, remind employees of the potential consequences if they are in breach of any of these policies.

Here’s a quick wrap-up of the Christmas party preparations:

  • Make sure these policies are supported and reinforced throughout the company, including senior management.
  • Have a clear start and finish time for the function. Make sure employees have appropriate transportation when leaving the event, such as public transport or cab vouchers.
  • Make sure you supply an ample amount of food. You don’t want staff having glasses of Christmas spirit on an empty stomach.
  • Monitor the service and consumption of alcohol and ensure low and non-alcoholic beverages are also available.
  • Make sure the venue does not have any health and safety hazards and employees are aware of fire exits.

If you need assistance with creating practical and useful policies for your workplace one of our highly experienced Gurus can help. Give us a call on 1300 959 560.


7 things not to do at your work Christmas party

Well, it’s that time of year again when the office Christmas festivities begin. The tinsel is hanging in mass quantities and candy canes are on the desks.

While you are counting down until your office party, you should take time to consider what is appropriate behaviour at the event.

Here are our best ‘what not to do’ tips at your big bash:

  • Get drunk. Really drunk!

It’s a party so a couple of glasses of personality are socially acceptable. But there is a difference between being bubbly and totally smashed! Make sure you are aware of your company’s policy on alcohol consumption at work and at work events. Remember, just because it’s an open bar doesn’t mean you are not responsible for your actions.

  • Hit on a co-worker or boss.

This could land you in hot water with your HR department. You may think you are harmlessly flirting however the other person may view this behaviour as sexual harassment and they may lodge a complaint. Plus, it’s super embarrassing!

  • Talk trash about your co-workers or boss.

As the saying goes, loose lips sink ships. Bad-mouthing your co-workers or boss is a very bad idea. This could lead to some very awkward conversations the following day and leave you very red-faced.

  • Photocopy your privates.

No explanation is necessary.

  • Put up your dukes

Again, no explanation should be needed but I will give one. Physical violence constitutes serious misconduct and will most likely lead to dismissal. Keep the Rocky moves for the gym.

  • Show too much skin.

Remember you are at a work event so keep it classy. No midriffs or cleavage and please make sure your dress covers your lady bits. You are not out clubbing.

  • Talk shop!

Work Christmas events are a time to mingle with your co-workers without talking shop. Make an effort to attend, enjoy yourself and get to know others you work within a convivial atmosphere away from the office.

These tips will help you survive your office Christmas event. The golden rule is simple—have fun!

Happy holidays!

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