With the holiday [or silly season] upon us, it’s time to start thinking about hosting that annual staff Christmas Party. 

It’s a great opportunity to unwind, celebrate your team’s achievements and get into the festive spirit. However, it’s essential to approach this joyous occasion with caution. Let’s ensure you’ve got all your bases covered with a quick checklist tailored just for you. 


prioritise health and safety 

Before you don your party attire, let’s think about safety: 

  • Assess any potential hazards or risks associated with the venue or activities. If you’re planning an outdoor event like a beach party, consider the unique challenges and carry out a risk assessment before your event. 
  • Do you have any employees under the age of 18 attending? Take extra precautions and designate a senior team member to watch out for them. 
  • If you have young employees who have turned 18 [perhaps between the ages of 18-21 in particular] also designate a senior team member to watch out for them. 
  •  Given the ongoing concern around Covid and other health risks, make sure you’ve considered whether additional safety measures need to be put in place. Particularly if your workplace is having a small outbreak of Covid at this time. 
  • Are partners or family members joining the festivities? Remember, they’re under your watch during the party. 

 HR tip: In case of emergencies, ensure you have access to emergency contact information or a plan to get someone home safely, such as arranging for cabs and someone at the other end to meet them. It is advisable not to send an intoxicated person home alone.


event management matters 

Let’s talk logistics: 

  • Specify the start and finish times clearly and close down the event at the designated finish time. If you or other senior team members decide to extend the party or keep buying drinks after the official end time, remember that your obligations under WHS, EEO and the code of conduct still apply.  
  • Lead by example and exit the venue once the event time is over. 
  • Check if there are safe transportation options for employees to get to and from the event, like nearby bus, train, or cab services. 
  • Keep a close eye on alcohol consumption. Consider limiting the types of drinks available [e.g., light beers and non-alcoholic options, no spirits or shots], both from your end and what attendees can purchase. 
  • Ensure there’s plenty of food available to slow down alcohol consumption and its effects. 
  • Have plenty of water available and be aware of the weather, is it super hot? 

 HR tip – choose a venue that will ‘kick you out’ at your finish time so that it will make it easier for you to close down the party. Also consider, ‘turning off’ your bar tab 20 minutes before the designated finish time. 


set employee expectations 

Let’s remind your team about the rules: 

  • In the lead-up to the event, remind your employees of expected standards of behavior and potential disciplinary consequences.  
  • Focus on moderate drinking. Warn them in advance of the start and finish times and what will not be available to consume [I.e. shots – including self-purchase]
  • Resend your WHS, EEO and Code of Conduct policies to all attendees and request they review them before the event. Remember, it’s a work function, so all work policies apply. 
  • If guests are invited, they are also expected to comply to your workplace policies. Please ask your team to share the information about the event and policies with their guest before arrival. 


supervision and managerial responsibilities 

Keep a watchful eye: 

  • Nominate a number of people to monitor health and safety hazards and alcohol consumption. This could be your WHS Representative, a Director, a First Aid Officer or Emergency Warden. While venue staff can be helpful, don’t rely solely on them!  
  • As business leaders, avoid encouraging any behavior that could jeopardise someone’s health, safety, or conduct. In other words, don’t push anyone to drink excessively or partake in risky activities. 
  • As the owner or the director in charge, limit your alcohol intake. Whether you like it or not, you are responsible for your people. 
  • Something goes wrong at a party, the buck stops with you.  


 post-party debrief 

Whilst the party’s over, it’s not quite done… until you do a post-party debrief.  

  • Seek feedback from managers and key team members to evaluate how the event went. Did any concerning behaviors occur, even if they were mild? Always be seen as taking action on any complaints or concerns. 
  • Review your risk assessments and make necessary changes for future events. 


key takeaways

By following these steps and understanding your responsibilities, you and your team can enjoy the holiday festivities with confidence, while minimising potential risks. We wish you a safe and joyful holiday season! 



we’re here to help 

If you need some help with any of the above, please give our People + Culture team a buzz on 1300 BDEPOT or get in touch at oneplace@businessdepot.com.au. 


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Originally authored by Anna Chipperfield.