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15 Dec 2020

4 Tips for Hosting a Safe Holiday Party

The holiday season is a wonderful time of the year, characterized by joyful music, colourful holiday lights, sounds of laughter, and feelings of good will. As the holiday season approaches, many employers are busy planning company parties to celebrate the achievements of the year and reward employees for their continued hard work. With the anticipated year-end merrymaking, though, it’s important that party planners don’t forget to consider the safety and legal risks that such gatherings can create, especially if alcohol will be served.

While anyone can fall victim to crimes at any time, holiday parties often cause people to let their guard down, reduce their level of caution, and become easy targets for various unfavourable incidents that range from drinking-related injuries and accidents to harassment complaints. Considering that there’s no guarantee your guests will be at their best behaviour, no matter how mature or responsible they are, it’s important that you engage in careful holiday party planning to minimize the potential risks and avoid as many security threats as possible.

Legal and Safety Issues for Employers

Although injuries and accidents that involve intoxicated people are quite common in society, employers who serve alcohol at company-sponsored events could be held accountable for any damage caused by an intoxicated employee. If an employee gets injured at the company event or its aftermath, then the company’s employee benefit programs such as workers’ compensation and medical insurance may be impacted.

Employers also risk being held legally liable for violating anti-harassment laws in the event that a coworker, supervisor, or manager engages in inappropriate, unlawful conduct towards another company employee at the holiday party. Inappropriate conduct at work includes unwanted sexual advances, vulgar language, and unwelcome touching, as well as any acts that are prohibited in your company policy. In addition, if there are minors attending the party, it’s important that they don’t consume any alcohol as the event host may be arrested for violating the law, and held accountable for any injuries or incidents related to the intoxicated minor.

Make sure you have the right insurance cover just in case. You should determine whether your liquor liability is included in your commercial general liability (CGL) policy. Additionally, seek coverage options like Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) to protect against claims of sexual harassment, disrimination, emotional distress, and so on.

Other Tips for Planning a Safe Holiday Party

With consideration of both internal and external risks to the safety and security of your guests, here are a few tips to assist you in planning a safe holiday party:

1. Alert your neighbours in advance

Depending on the location of the venue, make sure to inform your neighbours and other relevant parties of your plans to hold a holiday party. Invite them to the party and apologize in advance for the inconvenience. If your neighbours are unable to attend, keep the music at a reasonable level and end the party at an appropriate time. Informing your neighbours will also allow them to adjust their security measures for the increased traffic and higher noise levels.

2. Prepare the venue in time

Before your guests arrive, ensure that the venue is as safe as possible. This includes:

  • Removing all valuables from the rooms where the party will be held and securing them in a locked room.
  • Ensuring that the walkways, entrance, and exits are clear of snow and ice. Make arrangements to have all paths leading into and out of the building shovelled, and add salt to clear the ice before the party starts and again before it ends.
  • Providing adequate lighting inside and outside the venue to reduce the risk of slips, trips, and falls.
  • Having emergency medical services on-site or on standby in case of any problems such as allergic reactions or minor injuries.

3. Hire special event security services

Consider hiring professional security guards to ensure the success of your event by providing safety for your guests. Trained and well-equipped security personnel can assist with crowd control for large holiday parties to enhance the safety of your guests, in addition to providing venue security to prevent intrusions by uninvited guests or even car theft. Informing the security company in time will allow them to prepare adequately through threat identification and analysis, premises inspection, scenario mapping, and early security equipment setup.

The presence of skilled security personnel will help to deter many potential crimes or harmful incidents, while creating a sense of security so your guests can enjoy themselves fully. Trained security guards can also observe the behaviour of guests at the party and act promptly if inappropriate or potentially unsafe conduct occurs.

4. Make transport or accommodation arrangements

As a responsible host, part of your work involves getting them home safely once the party is over. There are different ways to tackle this issue:

  • Provide a range of alcohol-free choices for guests who don’t consume alcohol and for the designated drivers. You can, for instance, offer “mocktails” in addition to soft drinks so they also feel the sense of celebration.
  • Serve cheese and wine to prevent guests from becoming inebriated due to drinking on an empty stomach. Providing food will encourage moderate drinking and slow down alcohol intoxication.
  • Provide accommodation at the venue to prevent your drunk guests from driving at all. This is particularly important if the party will be going into the wee hours.
  • Find local taxi companies and keep their contact details in hand so intoxicated friends can easily reach them when it’s time to leave. You can also ask the cabs to wait at the venue so your guests know they can get home safely afterwards.
  • Plan party games and other fun activities to engage people and make them less active in alcohol consumption.
  • Limit drinking time or hire professional bartenders to identify people who have drunk too much alcohol to offer guidance.

Final Note

Hosting a party is more commonly referred to as throwing a party, which indicates the many uncertainties that any planner will encounter when staging an event that is fun, enjoyable, and safe for everyone. These tips will help you and your guests enjoy a fun and safe holiday party at the end of the year. For more information on how to secure your company holiday party and venue, please contact Optimum Security.

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