The holiday office party—it's fodder for movie comedies, watercooler gossip, and sometimes becomes the reason for a new company policy in the employee handbook. According to multiple ERC surveys, nearly 75% of all companies host a holiday party, but that number is dropping.

In the era of #MeToo and increased concerns over corporate liability, hosting a holiday party can have huge ramifications if something goes wrong. However, the same survey shows that a significant number of employees would be deeply disappointed if their company did not host a holiday party.

If you're in charge of your company holiday party, you have the heavy responsibility of keeping the fun flowing and your liability limited. We have a few company holiday party tips, resources, and insurance options to get you started:

Company Holiday Party Planning Resources

Depending on the size of your company, your office holiday party may be an extravagant affair that requires large numbers of vendors and other resources or it may be a simple lunchtime event with a few games and prizes. Planning any event requires planning, organization, and coordination. Here are a few resources to help you get started:

Planning Tools

As you plan your event, these handy apps, spreadsheets, and tools can make the process flow smoothly and help you stay on track.

  • Pocket Planner - Calculate the amount of food you need catered per guest, find venues, and streamline communication with this handy app.
  • Holiday Party Planning Checklist - Download this free checklist to help you keep track of the myriad tasks that need to be completed.
  • Free Event Budget Spreadsheet - Staying on top of your budget is a primary concern for most party planners. Keep organized with this spreadsheet.

Invitations

  • Invitations - Find paperless invitation templates at PaperlessPost and Canva.
  • Event Website - For a larger organization, consider a separate event website where you can post party details and post-party pictures for everyone to enjoy.

Venues

  • While many offices host their holiday parties on-site, you may want to find an off-site venue. Booking your venue at least 6 months or more in advance may be required in order to get the date you want. Check out PeerSpace and TripleSeat to book your holiday party.

Food Trucks

  • One creative way to cater your company party is via a food truck. To find and book a local food truck for your event, check out Roaming Hunger.
Party Planning Committee

Select a random group of employees who are willing to assist, plan, and execute the company holiday party and switch up the group each year. You'll receive fresh ideas along with a myriad of perspectives on what a fun holiday party looks like.

Since most company parties are optional, you'll want to plan an event people want to attend and are willing to spend their off-hours at. To be successful, have your committee consider the following questions:

  • Will we utilize the company party as a platform to recognize key employees and achievements?
  • Can we support a cause or charity as part of the event?
  • Will family members and children be invited, or will this be an employee-only event?
  • What entertainment will appeal to and engage the broadest audience?
  • When should the holiday party be held to maximize attendance?
  • Will employee gifts or raffles be offered?
  • Will alcohol be offered? What will the alcohol policy be?
  • If alcohol is offered, how do we limit our liability with liquor liability insurance and how do we ensure our employee's safety?
Etiquette Memo

As part of the company party invitation, include your company policy or holiday party etiquette memo. Some companies require their employees to sign a waiver and release form if the party is held off-site or if alcohol will be served. Items to address in your company memo per your company policies are:

  • Alcohol - Set the expectations of liquor consumption, behavior, and designated drivers.
  • Apparel - Determine if your event will be formal, business dress, or casual.
  • Comportment - A company holiday party is a business event and should be treated as any other business function according to your company values and standards of conduct.
  • Activities and games - Emphasize that participation is voluntary.
  • Waiver - Attach a waiver and release form if your company decides to require it.
Host Liquor Liability Insurance

Liquor liability laws apply in 44 states, which hold those who serve alcohol to an intoxicated or underage person liable for damage or injury caused by those individuals. This includes "social hosts," such as businesses who are holding an office holiday party.

If you are serving alcohol at your company holiday party, be aware that your company could be held liable if one of your guests were to injure someone or cause damage. Read Host Liquor Liability Insurance and Your Next Holiday Party: Why It Counts to learn more about host liquor liability insurance and why your company needs a policy.

Purchase a host liquor liability insurance policy for your company holiday party here.

It's not enough to simply purchase a liquor liability policy. Your employees are your company's most valuable assets and it's important to protect them. To find out how to protect your employees and reduce your host liquor liability insurance claims, read this blog.

It's Party Time!

With these tips and resources at your fingertips, we hope you have a successful and safe company holiday party. Just don't forget the most important tip of all – have fun!

By Lyndsey Larsen

Lyndsey Larsen is the Marketing Manager for Insurance Canopy and writes about business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and insurance.

Lyndsey Larsen is an experienced writer with a background in corporate communications nonprofits, SAAS corporations, and nutraceutical companies. She has previously worked as a journalist for regional and national publications. In her spare time, she enjoys chasing butterflies, rockhounding, and spending time with her two kids in Utah's mountains or deserts. Find Lyndsey on LinkedIn.