How to host a good work Christmas party

Wednesday December 4, 2019

Group of people toasting with Santa hats.

The festive season is upon us! And like many employers you may well be getting ready to celebrate a year of hard work by hosting a Christmas party for employees. You’ll likely know, from past experience, that the annual work Christmas party is a much-anticipated event. Employees see this as a time to let their hair down and get to know colleagues in a more relaxed environment. You may also be aware that although it’s referred to as the “work Christmas do” it’s not uncommon for some attendees to forget the “work” association as soon as the party gets started.

A change of scenery, relaxed dress code and a few drinks. It doesn’t take much for some employees to create a narrative for your party worthy of a soap opera. Loose lips on real opinions, fallouts, awkward flirting or sexual harassment. The work Christmas do can be a hotbed for it all. What’s worse is that you are responsible for employees and could find yourself to be vicariously liable.

In the age of social media, there’s little chance of the “work Christmas don’ts” going unnoticed. Merry mishaps can now get live-streamed online for all to see. Yikes!

We know that warnings about the Christmas party can seem like they have come straight from the Grinch himself. But we believe that you deserve to enjoy your Christmas party just as much as everyone else does. And for that to happen, some HR-advised party planning wouldn’t go a miss. 

Your work Christmas party checklist

To host a Christmas party that everyone remembers, for the right reasons, see our party planning checklist below. And cheers to the relief of knowing that your business is in safe hands.

1.A reliable risk assessment – Before securing the venue for your Christmas party it would be wise to perform a risk assessment of your preferred venue to check for potential hazards. It’s also important to check that the venue has the correct licenses and plans in place for the Responsible Service of Alcohol and other safety issues.

2.An informative invite – As well as setting the scene and building excitement for the party, your invite should remind employees that this is a work event. The normal company rules, code of conduct, disciplinary and grievance procedures apply. 

3.Travel to and from the event – The work Christmas party is an extension of the workplace and the safety of employees travelling to and from the event comes under your responsibility as the employer. Consider how employees will travel safely to and home from your party.

4.Food and drink – If you are providing dinner or a buffet, make sure that dietary requirements have been accounted for so that everyone can eat. When it comes to drinks, it could be a good idea to consider limited drinks vouchers over a free bar. This way you can keep an eye on consumption.

5.A good time for all – Prep your senior management team ahead of the party to keep an eye out for any untoward behaviour. Everyone deserves to have a good time and you’ll need a few eyes and ears to help you manage this.

6.Work the next day – If your party is during the working week, as many are, make it clear to staff before the event that no-shows and unauthorised absences the next working day will not be tolerated. You may like to encourage employees to use their leave allowance (if they have any remaining) to counteract them going AWOL and leaving you short the next working day.

Your HR party planners

If you are about to host your first Christmas party and you want to make sure there’ll be a second and third, or you’ve already had yours and been left with a painful brain teaser for Christmas, call us. Your work Christmas party can be a fun way to reward staff and boost morale. It has great potential to be heaps of fun when done right. Let our experienced HR team give you peace of mind on your party planning.

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