Lema Khorshid, one of the founding partners of Fuksa Khorshid, LLC, was featured on Entrepreneurs Unpluggd, providing her tips for a carefree office holiday party. If you’re planning festivities for your business employees in the next few weeks, read her tips below to ensure your event is a success. You can Lema’s full article here.
Your office holiday party can provide employees time to socialize and celebrate. With some careful planning, you can ensure that an evening’s fun doesn’t turn into a liability nightmare.
Understand the Responsibilities of Providing Alcoholic Beverages
The biggest office party risks regard distribution and consumption of alcohol. Employers can be responsible for injuries or damage caused by intoxicated employees. First, never sell alcohol, which requires licensure under the Illinois Liquor Control Act. Violating the Act can cost $1,000 and is a Class IV business felony for repeat offenders. Instead, consider engaging a licensed and insured vendor, which means you won’t violate the licensing statute and experienced, sober personnel will be available. Additionally, make sure that guests under 21, if present, don’t consume alcoholic beverages. Illinois law places liability on the host if an underage individual is caught drinking on the host’s premises.
Next, provide food and nonalcoholic alternatives and close the bar at least an hour before the party is set to end. Offer programming such as live music or interactive games so that the emphasis is not solely on drinking. Watch for employees who appear too inebriated to drive; don’t hesitate to call cabs for them to get home safely. And staff should remain alert for any trouble.
Review HR Policies & Monitor Employees’ Behavior
Boorish conduct by overindulgent employees reflects poorly on individuals, but tipsy employees may make unwanted sexual advances or otherwise act in ways that could constitute harassment and put your business in the middle of a lawsuit. Consider sending employees pre-party e-mails with your sexual harassment policy to remind them of their responsibilities, and intervene in any disturbance that might occur.
Ensure Your Vendor Contracts are Adequate
If you engage a vendor to serve alcohol or food, or to provide premises or security for the event, review any contracts before signing. Check for language covering the event’s starting, ending, delivery and pick up times (and whether you must deliver and pick up) and any liability disclaimers for particular occurrences, like injuries caused by faulty furniture. Your business insurance policy may contain information about liability for events involving liquor, so take a look. And only use trustworthy vendors; if you don’t know any reputable ones, ask colleagues who have hosted events before.
Create a Festive Environment
After you’ve minimized liabilities, focus on fun! Your conference room is not the most festive atmosphere. If possible, opt for a venue that gets people out of the office, away from Cubesville.
If you remain office-bound, utilize creative ways to engage employees. Build a gingerbread decoration station or offer a raffle to raise cash for a cause. Alternatively, ask everyone to bring in toys for underprivileged children or nonperishable items for a food bank, and arrange a gift-wrapping station.
Finally, create a festive vibe with celebratory lighting, music, and food. Lower the lights and sprinkle LED candles throughout your space. Boost the energy by playing hipper holiday songs from modern artists. And, bring in a caterer to set up a taco or sushi bar – far more exciting than the sandwiches you serve at meetings. With these tips, your party is sure to be successful!
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