A holiday office party is a great way to bring people together, boost morale, and show staff how much they’re appreciated. Be aware, if alcohol is served, some guests may overindulge. The increased opportunities to party this time of year account for a spike in binge drinking. Some party goers will undoubtedly get behind the wheel after celebrating. If drunk party guests cause a car accident on their way home, the host could be legally responsible for damages.
Are you hosting and office holiday party this year? Here are some tips to keep employees safe.
- Send out a party memo prior. Make clear what your alcohol policy is and enforce it. Remind staff not to overindulge and not serve drinks to minors.
- Party during the work week. People are less apt to overindulge if they must be at work the next morning.
- Have a dry party. Employees may not like it, but they won’t be driving drunk afterward either.
- Have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available. Serve soft drinks, water and mocktails as well as alcoholic drinks.
- Serve beer and wine only. Avoid stronger alcoholic drinks.
- Use drink tickets. Limit the number of drinks each guest is allowed.
- Don’t host the bar. If you offer a no host bar where guests must pay for their own drinks, they may not drink as much as they would at a hosted bar.
- Serve food. People tend to drink less at parties at which food is served because it’s hard to juggle food and a drink at the same time. Stay away from greasy, salty, and sweet foods that make people thirsty. Offer high protein and starchy foods which stay in the stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream.
- Hire a bartender for the night. A professional bartender can identify employees who drink too much and should be encouraged to card younger employees. If younger staff members will be attending the party, consider using wristbands. Issue one color for guests under 21 and one for those over 21.
- Close the bar an hour before the party ends. Just like they do at sporting events, closing the bar an hour before the party ends will give guests time to sober up before heading home.
- Host at a hotel. My law firm did this for years. We would rent a banquet room at a hotel, then most employees would book a room for the night instead of driving home.
- Have numbers for taxi services on hand. Keep the number handy and visible, for instance, placing their business cards at tables.
- Splurge on a party bus or ride vouchers. Hire a bus for the night to drive employees to and from the party, or offer to pay for their Uber or Lyft ride at the end of the night.
- Reward designated drivers. Give DDs a gas gift card or some other kind of reward for staying sober and responsible.
- Intervene. If a guest attempts to drink and drive, step in, call a cab, take their keys, do whatever it takes to keep them off the road. After all, if they cause an accident, the host may be held legally responsible under the social host liability law.
Have a fun and safe holiday season.