‘Tis The Season to Avoid Holiday Party Issues

Temperatures are dropping, decorations are going up, and lists for Santa are excitedly being prepared. It can mean only one thing – the Holiday Season is almost upon us. This annual celebration brings a chance to catch up with family, enjoy some classic festive songs, and exchange gifts with the ones we love. It’s also a great time to reward your staff for a year of hard work by hosting a staff holiday party.

Company events such as these are perfect for getting to know coworkers better and giving them a chance to let their hair down. And, while there’s plenty of scope for a fun night, we’ve all heard stories of holiday parties gone awry. It’s something you should have in the back of your mind when planning the big night.

As a small business owner, you may not have grown to the stage where your company has a human resources department. The onus is on you to take the lead in ensuring the staff holiday party runs smoothly. If you take the following eight tips into consideration, you can prevent your business from showing up on the naughty list this holiday season.


It’s completely unrealistic to expect staff to abstain from drinking alcohol, but it’s worth noting it’s the single biggest source of issues at events like these. You can steer your staff toward a more pleasant experience, without seeming like the Grinch, by serving food before alcohol, providing alcohol-free alternatives, and ensuring attendees are covered for cab fares home or designated drivers. There’s also the possibility of a daytime party during work hours.

Bonuses and Compensation

If you’re holding annual reviews where wages are discussed, or deciding on end of year bonuses, consider arranging them for after the event. It’s only natural some staff may not be entirely happy with the outcome of these chats, and may air these grievances publicly after a few drinks. Alcohol and wage discussions are not a good mix.

Additional Invites

The question of whether to extend a +1 to your staff’s significant other is a tricky one. It will cost you more for a larger party, but it’s a great gesture that will be appreciated by your staff. Our working lives are something our partners typically don’t often get to glimpse and it’s something they might be curious to know more about. As the owner, take the time to introduce yourself and get to know these people better.

Lead by Example

The established holiday party wisdom states staff should remain one drink behind their boss to avoid any issues. If you’re showing a mature attitude toward alcohol, making sure everyone is having a good time, and being a welcoming host, it will likely lead to everyone enjoying themselves responsibly.


When considering options for food, make sure to account for any dietary restrictions your team might have. This could take the shape of food allergies, religious dietary restrictions, or simple preferences. Engage your staff in this process, reach out to them and canvass opinions what they’d like to eat.


Keeping a defined structure on the evening is a great way to cut down on potential for things to go sideways. Consider hiring guest speakers, entertainers, or comedians. Be careful to steer clear of performers with edgy routines as you don’t want to be liable for any grievances relating to the entertainment.

Be Inclusive

An invite should be extended to all employees, including those on maternity/paternity leave or sick leave. You may have employees that don’t celebrate Christmas. Think of the party as an end of year gathering, and try to publicize it as such. You may also have employees who simply don’t want to go. This is totally fine. Attendance at events like these should not be mandatory.

The Next Day

Consider allowing staff to come in later the next day, especially if the party resulted in a late evening or alcohol has been involved. This is especially important if dealing with customers is a regular part of your business. You’ll want to be sure that your clientele still receives quality customer service. Even if that means starting the day a little bit later. Just be sure to notify your customers about the time change ahead of time

Here to Help

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