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Holiday Party Mishaps – And How to Avoid Them

Holiday Party Mishaps - And How to Avoid Them
Reading time 3 Mins
Published on Nov 8

The holiday season can be stressful for HR departments. Even when you don’t have to plan it, the annual holiday party brings a mountain of concerns about the well-being of your workers, possible discrimination, and the potential for inappropriate behavior. Here are three common holiday party mishaps and the steps your HR team can take to avoid them.


Excessive alcohol consumption at the holiday party can lead to serious liabilities for your company, including slips, trips, falls, and auto accidents. While many employers choose to serve alcohol at holiday parties, gone are the days of the open bar.

Limiting beverage options to lower alcohol-by-volume drinks like beer and wine can help dampen the urge (and ability) of employees to overindulge. By taking high alcohol content liquors off the menu, you can reduce the likelihood that employees will become intoxicated during your holiday party.

By limiting the hours in which alcoholic beverages are served at the party, you can help employees make better choices when drinking. Consider closing the bar at least an hour before the end of the party and serving dessert and coffee. This helps to close the night on a high note, while giving employees time to recover from their spiked drinks.


The holidays should be a time for your team to come together and celebrate – without leaving anyone feeling excluded. Keep holiday parties non-denominational and inclusive to avoid claims of workplace discrimination.

Make sure that your planning committee includes members from diverse backgrounds. Be mindful of other holidays and beliefs that coincide with the season, especially if they are represented by your staff. While it’s important to make sure that employees of all religious, ethnic, and racial backgrounds are invited and encouraged to attend, attendance at the holiday party should always be voluntary. Don’t make anyone feel pressured to attend.

Inappropriate behavior

When alcohol meets holiday cheer at your company party, it can create the kind of environment where sexual harassment runs rampant. Review your written sexual harassment policy with all staff in advance of the party to make sure that you spend the days afterwards talking about how fun the party was instead of dealing with sexual harassment complaints.

Even if your holiday party is held outside of office hours or off-site, it is still considered a work-related event – meaning that all of your workplace policies regarding behavior and conduct still apply. To make sure that everyone understands the importance of following your company policies at these kinds of events, consider holding a face-to-face meeting with groups of employees rather than sending an email and ask them to sign an updated acknowledgment that they’ve read and understood all of the policies covered.

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