Planning a Holiday Party? Some Tips to Keep You and Your Business Out of Harm’s Way.

Can you believe it? The holidays are here.  In fact, this week is the holiday party. I'm looking forward to it. It's a great time to get everyone together and say thanks for a fantastic year and it's a wonderful opportunity to meet spouses, partners, friends and significant others. Of course, there are often the post-party stories that get told over and over again about someone dancing with the lamp shade on his head or a stolen kiss under the mistletoe. Most of the antics are harmless, but if the festivities can get out of hand that could mean serious consequences for your business. As an employer, you can be held liable for actions occurring during or as the result of your company sponsored social event – particularly if alcohol is served. It's a concept known as social host liability and it is recognized by many courts across the country. (It's a good idea to consult an attorney and your insurance carrier before your event.) Here are some ideas to help you host a fun, yet safe holiday soiree. First, make sure attendance at your event is voluntary. You want to eliminate any implication that work is being conducted at the party. Secondly, make sure you don't drink too much. Yeah that's right. Limit the number of drinks to one or two. You need a clear head and good judgment to avoid problems. Arrange for alternative transportation. Ask for volunteers to be designated drivers or arrange for a taxi service to ensure your guests arrive home safely. Plan your menu so there aren't a lot of salty foods. Salty foods make you thirsty and as a result you drink more. Make sure you serve your guests their drinks. Don't provide a self-serve bar. It's even a better idea to hire a professional bartender who can keep eye on how much your guests are drinking. Also, make sure you have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages on hand. Consider hosting your party in the afternoon or early evening when people tend to drink less. Finally, stop serving alcohol at least an hour before the party ends. Instead, offer a coffee bar and some wonderful deserts. I don't mean to put a damper on your event, but it is better to be safe than sorry. You don't have to be a grinch.  It is possible to host a fun event for your team and still protect your company from liability.


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