‘Tis the season to be jolly.’  An annual holiday party can be a time to celebrate your company’s success and your employees’ achievements as well as express appreciation to employees for the past year of hard work.   However, if appropriate expectations are not made clear, an increase in bad behavior can rear its ugly head due to a combination of alcohol intake, repressed feelings due to the holiday season, and unresolved issues with coworkers.  So, how can you keep the fa-la-la-la-la in the party without giving up the nog?  Consider the following P-A-R-T-Y tips:

Preparation - Remind employees of Company policies, including the drug & alcohol policy.  If alcohol will be served to of-age employees, set bar limits.  Don’t let the party be fueled by alcohol. Drink coupons, tickets or hand stamps given to each employee can limit the intake.  Check interfaith calendars to avoid scheduling on another holiday that might fall in December.  Also, check for other events that might keep your employees away, such as holiday parades or highly anticipated sports venues.

Alternatives – Looking for something different all together?  Host an onsite or offsite breakfast or luncheon where alcohol could be excluded but guests could still be included.  Use the time to give back to those less fortunate by allowing employees to volunteer at a local charity/shelter/nonprofit or participate in an angel tree project. 

Relax – Remind employees that this is still a work event and that they can unwind without being unprofessional.  Take time to get to know employees and their significant others.  Try to keep the conversation away from “work” topics.

To Post or not to Post – Encourage employees to interact with each other and to limit social media time.  Your Company can promote positive social media attention by requesting that employees obtain permission from coworkers before posting their pictures but you should anticipate that employees will post pictures and make comments to online accounts.    

Yuletide Cheer- Celebrate all employees and be inclusive by allowing employees to bring a guest.  Make attendance expectations known.  Also, remember that holiday parties should be voluntary. Making holiday parties mandatory can expose your Company to liabilities under Workers’ Compensation if an injury were to occur.  Certain states have dram shop1 /social host liability laws2