Knowledge Hub | Articles

13 December 2013

Have yourself a merry-ish little Christmas party

With the Christmas party season now in full swing and with more and more firms extending the festivities into the New Year, Chris Brazier, associate lawyer at B P Collins LLP shares some top tips for ensuring your company Christmas party doesn’t turn into a catastrophe.

‘Tis the season to be prepared

Like any good party, the secret is in the preparation – so the sooner you start, the better chance you have of enjoying your big night out, instead of worrying about the consequences of what your colleagues or employees might get up to.

Be sure to leave enough time before the big day to forewarn all members of staff of the consequences of inappropriate behaviour or unwanted conduct – staff need to have a clear idea of your office policies so tell them you expect a certain standard of behaviour.

Limit the festive spirit

Be careful not to provide too much free alcohol, make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available too and, if you’re serving food, remember to take into account any dietary requirements so no-one feels left out.

Don’t let the mistletoe go to your head

Strategically placed mistletoe (even though it’s apparently in short supply) isn’t everyone’s idea of fun and if you’re planning a Secret Santa, then both employers and employees should be aware that the wrong choice of present, causing offence rather than amusement, can lead to accusations of discrimination and harassment.

Don’t force the festive cheer

Aim to make the party as inclusive as possible. Remember to take consideration for any employee with a disability.

And, as a religious holiday, some colleagues may not celebrate Christmas, so while a festive ‘knees up’ might be enjoyed by the majority, not everyone will want to join in the fun. If anyone pleads a prior engagement, don’t call them a party pooper - respect their choice.

Avoid seasonal selfies

With camera phones at the ready, the image of your finance manager falling into the Christmas tree after one too many hot toddies might seem hilarious, but not when future employers or clients do an online search and see him sprawled across the floor.

Photos and comments on social media websites like Facebook should only be posted with the individual’s consent and don’t forget to tell staff that online comments made under the influence of alcohol, for example on Twitter, will be viewed very dimly. If your company doesn’t already have a social media policy, then now’s a good time to implement one so everyone is clear about the dos and don’ts.

Make it a cracker

Remember that all employers have a general duty of care towards their staff. Sensible precautions, such as keeping an eye on younger team members, and considering in advance how all everyone will get home safely will help the event stay on track.

And, when it comes to the morning after, if you expect staff to be bright eyed and bushy tailed in the office, make sure everyone is aware of the expectations.

Finally and most importantly, enjoy your party!

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