How to prepare for your Christmas party

Christmas is upon us once more and so is Christmas party season. That means that many employers will be treating their employees to a night out over the coming weeks.

These parties mostly happen outside of work at an informal venue. Employees are in the festive spirit, everyone celebrates another successful year, and all seems to be going well.

That’s until an incident upsets one or several employees. When that happens, you’ll have a HR issue to handle the following day. To avoid these kinds of risks, do a little Christmas party preparation.

Make attendance optional

Making attendance optional will decrease the pressure on employees. Some people prefer a quiet night to a busy one, and as an employer, you need to remember that.

To cater to your wider workforce, consider a small internal event where all employees can get involved. That could be a Christmas lunch or a quiz, anything easy-going that employees will enjoy.

Don’t get caught out with ‘Secret Santa’

What one person finds funny, another could find offensive. That’s why it’s best to be careful when it comes to ‘Secret Santa’.

Encouraging employees to partake is fine, but remind them that dignity at work policies still apply. Once this is made clear to all staff, you reduce the chances of an employee upsetting another, and avoiding a potential complaint.

Remind employees of social media responsibilities

Social media has become a bit of a thorn in the side for many employers, especially when it comes to social events. If an employee acts out of line and it’s caught on camera, it could very well end up online. If it does, you could have a disciplinary case on your hands.

That’s why it’s so important to provide employees with a written statement clarifying the rules on social media. This way, you cover your employees, yourself, and your business reputation.

Employee behaviour and liability

The behaviour of individual employees is sometimes difficult to track. Holding an event outside of work creates a more relaxed environment and in turn, people can allow the situation to affect them.

If fun goes a little too far or someone takes offence to a comment, a complaint could be lodged by the offended party. Furthermore, because it happened at a work event, you could be held liable for the offending employee’s actions.

To curtail these kinds of situations, it’s best to put a dignity at work policy in place that includes sections prohibiting behaviour that amounts to bullying or harassment. Once in place, communicate these policies to your employees before the Christmas party and any future work events.

Plan for the following day

All employers will hope that no issues come to light the day after the party. If you’ve followed the steps we’ve gone through above, you should be safe.

If your Christmas party falls on a ‘school night’, you’ll need to inform your employees of a few things. Are they expected in at their usual time? Are you giving them some flexibility?

If any employee is under the influence of alcohol or drugs come their start time, they should stay home and work the time back at an agreed date. If employees do arrive into work and you suspect they’re still under the influence, you will need to take disciplinary action.

If you would like further complementary advice on party preparations from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call. Call us on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.


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Nora Cashe


Nóra studied Law in Griffith College Dublin and qualified as a Barrister in 2008, practising in the area of Criminal law. She is also member of the Irish Employment Law Association.

Nora has extensive experience representing clients at Employment Tribunal hearings, Conciliation / Mediation meetings before both the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. 

Nóra is a member of the Irish Employment Law Association and engages with the WRC Adjudication Service as part of their stakeholder engagement forum.

Deiric McCann

Genos International Europe

Deiric McCann leads Genos International Europe – The EU division of a world-leading provider of emotional intelligence solutions. 

With over two decades experience at the highest levels of management, Deiric supports clients to develop the resilience, emotional intelligence, psychological safety and engagements of their employees.

Rhiannon Coyne

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With a number of recent updates to employment laws, Rhiannon will take a closer look at employment equality and how it is interlinked to Health & Safety and what employers can learn from recent case laws.

David Begg

Workplace Relations Commission

David Begg was appointed Chairperson of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in January 2021.

David is also a professor at Maynooth University Institute of Social Sciences. Mr Begg’s extensive history in the trade union movement included leading the ESB Officers Association and Irish Congress of Trade Unions, stepping away from the latter in 2001 to chair international aid agency Concern.

David Begg was also previously a director of the Central Bank of Ireland between 1995 and 2010.