‘Tis the Season. 
Many employers continue a tradition of hosting festive season parties or events for employees and their families. This can be a good practice if done properly. It can have serious negative impacts if it is not.
Employees often have mixed feelings about attending these events. There are those that seem ready, willing and able to party at a moment’s notice and see the annual party as just another opportunity to socialize and have a good time. Others may be less enthusiastic about attending a festive season work event. They may feel they have spent enough time with their coworkers over the preceding year. Some may feel their workplace is not a very hospitable or inclusive place and the last thing they want to do is to socialize with their coworkers.
The following are some festive season party event tips for employers and employees.

Tips for Employers

1. Be inclusive
Select a menu that can be enjoyed by all attendees. Be mindful of those with special dietary needs such as vegetarians, those with restrictions based upon religious beliefs, or those with allergy or health conditions.

2. Select a Suitable Venue
Make sure the location you select is accessible to all and has ample parking. Ensure that the facility selected is suitable in size. Too large and the event will appear to be poorly attended. Too small and it will be too crowded.

3. Serving Alcohol
Employers will need to decide whether alcohol will be available or provided at the event. If alcohol is to be available, employers are strongly advised to ensure professional bartenders provide service and that a system is in place to ensure attendees do not drink to excess. Employers are urged to ensure that taxi chits or alternate transportation are available to discourage drinking and driving. Make sure employees are aware of your policy on drinking and driving at the event.

4. Entertainment and Activities
Make certain that any entertainment is suitable and appropriate for the event. Entertainment that has a potentially offensive or derogatory aspect is inappropriate where it is provided on behalf of the employer. In addition, activities must enable all to participate.

5. Appropriate Conduct
Unlike the well travelled line of “what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas”, the conduct of leaders, managers and employees at employer sponsored events matters. Expectations pertaining to harassment and the respectful workplace are NOT to be ignored at employer events.
With reasonable planning and careful consideration, an employer can ensure that their festive season event contributes to positive employee relations and promotes positive and healthy values.

Tips for Employees

1. Attend the Event
Do attend the event and celebrate with your coworkers. Festive season events are a terrific opportunity to connect with your coworkers on a more personal level in a friendly environment. When requested be sure to confirm your attendance so event planners and organizers can prepare. Only bring a guest if invited to do so.

2. Alcohol
Avoid consuming alcohol, or drink in moderation. Most events provide non alcoholic drinks. A combination of too much alcohol and loose lips can have a devastating effect on workplace relations and upon your career. Have fun and encourage your coworkers to be safe and practice moderation.  Taxis and other alternatives to driving are always available. Use them as appropriate.

3. Personal Conduct
It may sound trite, but seasonal parties and events are NOT the time to criticize your employer, your boss or your coworkers. You should note that even though such an event typically occurs away from the workplace, all the normal expectations with respect to harassment and appropriate conduct and behavior are essential. It is totally appropriate, and a show of good manners, to thank your employer for hosting the event.
With the right frame of mind and a positive attitude employees can enjoy these events and actually benefit from developing and nurturing positive relations with their coworkers.