Follow this guide for a safe yet festive holiday party this season

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, bringing to mind gifts, goodies, and festivities. But in the age of COVID-19, the festivities are likely to look a bit different this year as we strive to maintain social distance and adhere to new safety guidelines and protocols.

Large gatherings of friends and family, crowded shopping centers, and packed tree-lighting ceremonies may be on pause this year. You might be thinking the same thing about your office holiday party. But even amid the added anxieties this year has brought, it’s still possible to have a safe, healthy, and even jovial office soiree.

The show must go on

Holiday office parties bring a host of concerns under normal circumstances. No one wants to deal with questionable, alcohol-induced behavior that leads to a lawsuit – but even more so in 2020 with business owners working to maintain a healthy work environment. In this era of social distancing, you might be tempted to forgo a holiday party altogether.

But this might be the year when it’s needed the most. Moral may be down after a year filled with lockdowns and disruptions to routines, so your team will likely appreciate an opportunity to relax and socialize with co-workers, even if it looks very different from in years past.

Why a holiday party matters

Here are some reasons why it’s still a good idea to throw a shindig (albeit one that ensures the safety of everyone involved). 

  1. Show your appreciation: Holiday parties can be a way of thanking your employees for all the hard work they put in this year.
  2. Bond with your team: A holiday party can be a chance to get to know one another better and strengthen workplace relationships. 
  3. Express your values: Amid the festivities, take a few minutes to remind your employees what your company stands for and what kind of work environment you strive to create.
  4. Share plans for the new year: As the year draws to a close, it’s a great time to focus everyone’s attention on next year’s goals while celebrating your team’s hard work over the last several months.
  5. Inspire and motivate: Acknowledging individual accomplishments at a holiday party not only creates a positive and inclusive environment but may also motivate everyone to achieve even more next quarter. 

Go virtual

Now that we know a holiday party can make a difference, let’s look at how you can keep your employees safe during a festive event. 

In addition to being a safe alternative to an in-person gathering, a virtual holiday party may also prove to be more convenient for everyone. Employees can imbibe in the comfort of their own home, and no one has to worry about designated drivers or calling cabs at the end of the evening.

But just because an event is virtual doesn’t mean it has to be any less engaging. This is a time to get really creative with the planning and an opportunity to underline that your organization takes its employees’ health and safety very seriously.

Here are some ideas for how to keep things entertaining while making everyone’s health a top priority.

Wine and cheese pairing

Have the wine and cheese delivered to your co-workers before the party and enjoy the beverages and nibbles together as a group. Deliver a whole basket of goodies via the many online services out there or keep things local by engaging area restaurants and wine shops. Your employees may be more appreciative of something from a local spot, and you can feel good about supporting fellow business owners in your town.

Zoom karaoke

If in-person karaoke was a hit with your team in the past, consider a virtual version this year. It’s likely to invite a lot of participation, either from those eager to show off their vocal skills or those who tune in to see how beautifully, or badly, their office mates can sing. Co-workers could potentially invite significant others, kids, or other members of their households to join in on the fun.

Online secret Santa

Rather than have employees bring gifts into the office, everyone can order their gift online and have it delivered right to their co-workers’ doorstep. As with traditional secret Santa, it’s best to set a price limit, but be sure to factor in potential delivery fees when deciding on a cost cap. 

Cookie or gingerbread house decorating

Another potential family-friendly activity, you can have the supplies delivered to everyone in advance of the party. Up the ante by hosting a friendly competition where the best-decorated cookie or gingerbread house wins a prize.

Expect the unexpected

If alcohol is part of the festivities, there’s a possibility for people to imbibe too much. Although a virtual format reduces the potential for someone to get unnecessarily frisky, complications may still arise, and you’ll want to be prepared.

Have someone on your team refrain from drinking, preferably someone in management. This person can serve as a moderator and virtual host, addressing any technical problems or muting someone if necessary. Encourage employees to have food on hand during the party to reduce the likelihood someone has too much to drink. For example, the wine and cheese theme mentioned above is a great way to ensure your employees are noshing in between cocktails.

Protect yourself

Now that you’ve planned a bash that makes sure your employees can have fun and still be safe, take a moment to evaluate the protections you’ve put in place for yourself and your business. While it’s unlikely that an office party will result in raucous behavior and a subsequent lawsuit, it’s important to make sure you’re covered.

General liability insurance or employment practices liability insurance can protect you in the event of a lawsuit. If you don’t have this coverage or you’d like to adjust your current policy, contact the Avante Insurance team at 305-648-7070 or fill out our online form

This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state.