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Five tips for hosting a fun and safe work Christmas party

Nov 27, 2023

  • 2min

Five tips for hosting a fun and safe work Christmas party

Employer Brand
A woman working at a laptop planning a work Christmas party with a Christmas tree and holiday bear in the background.
The festive season is almost here, and that means you’re probably in the throes of planning the work Christmas party. The annual work Christmas party is an opportunity for your staff to relax and socialise with colleagues and foster a positive team culture.

It’s a busy time of year with lots to do in preparation for end-of-year shutdowns, additional leave, and an increase in customers or requests from clients in the lead-up to the holiday season. With everything going on, it can be easy to simply book a venue and send out the invitations. However, there needs to be careful consideration and planning to ensure it’s a fun and safe event for everyone.

Here are five things to consider when planning your work Christmas party:

Four colleagues sitting around a table eating pizza with Christmas hats on.
One important tip: Don’t forget to have plenty of food available at your Christmas party.

1. Identify possible risks and set clear guidelines for your employees

Whether you’re hosting a Christmas party on your premises or choosing an off-site venue, you’ll need to conduct a risk assessment. Have a plan to identify, assess, control and review Christmas party hazards before, during and after the event.

Some common Christmas party risk areas include alcohol consumption, transportation to and from the event, employee behaviour, venue accessibility and activities or games happening during the event.

Your employees must also be aware of their responsibilities during festive season events. While a Christmas party is typically a more relaxed environment, it’s still a work event. The usual rules around harassment, discrimination and social media use still apply to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time. Communicate these expectations early with your teams so everyone understands the expectations.

2. Understand your responsibilities as an employer

Planning your Christmas party is a good reminder to review relevant workplace policies, such as your code of conduct, drug and alcohol, health and safety, anti-discrimination and harassment, social media, and grievance handling policies.

Revisions to the Sex Discrimination Act at the end of 2022 placed a legal obligation on employers to eliminate sex-based harassment connected with work – including Christmas functions. So, if you haven’t updated your relevant employment policies, now is the time to do so.

It’s your responsibility to ensure you meet your WHS requirements and other legal obligations, such as responsible service of alcohol and accessibility during your Christmas event. Employers have a duty of care to their employees’ health and safety that extends to third-party venues hosting work-related functions.

3. Organise transport options to get employees home safely

Consider including vouchers or reimbursement for taxis or public transport in your Christmas party budget. Helping employees safely get to and from the event contributes to a positive workplace culture and overall wellbeing.

Some local councils offer vouchers or subsidies for businesses to help with the cost of providing transport for workplace Christmas parties. Check to see what’s available in your local area and communicate in advance that vouchers or reimbursements will be available, along with party start and end times, so that staff can plan accordingly.

4. Have alcohol-free options and plenty to eat available

If you plan on having a bar tab or providing drinks, set a clear end time for the tab and include plenty of non-alcoholic options. The rise in zero-alcohol beer and spirits over the last few years coincides with a decline in alcohol consumption, particularly among young adults. This means it’s easier than ever before to serve alcohol-free beverages while still enjoying the festive spirit.

Whether you’re planning a sit-down meal or finger food during the event, it’s important to have enough food to go around. Your venue or caterer will be able to guide you on how much food is needed based on the duration of the party and how many people will be attending.

5. Don’t forget to have fun

While there’s a lot to plan and prepare for, end-of-the-year Christmas parties are about having fun. Why not think outside the traditional cocktail party or dinner and incorporate an activity or experience? For any team members who don’t celebrate this time of year, you could provide time in lieu or offer another option so everyone feels included.

It’s also a perfect opportunity to take stock of the year, recognise significant achievements, and set intentions for the year ahead.

These tips aren’t just good for Christmas parties, keep them handy for any work functions you have throughout the year.

Contact our team to discover how you can have a fun, safe holiday season on 1800 868 254 or set up a meeting.

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