As we race to the end of what has been a strange and challenging year, planning an end-of-year party might be the last thing on your mind. But hosting an office Christmas party can be a positive way to recognise your people for their hard work as you bid farewell to another year – and many people will be keen to say “adieu” to this one.

So, if you’re ready to leave 2020 behind and celebrate with your team, here are three tips for planning a safe Christmas party.

1. Plan for a covid-safe Christmas

New Zealand is in a fortunate position; the country is currently on level 1 restrictions which means there are no limits on gatherings. But it’s important not to be complacent when organising an event during a pandemic. You still need to take good health and safety precautions, such as encouraging good hygiene, ensuring plenty of hand sanitiser is available and reminding your staff to stay home if unwell. Should alert levels change, and gatherings become limited, make sure you have a plan for communicating the changes to your team. For guidance around Alert levels and for updates on COVID-19 in New Zealand, make sure you check the Ministry of Health website.

2. Set your expectations and share your workplace policies

Before the festivities begin, you should take the opportunity to set standards of behaviour and to reiterate the need to be safe. Your team will need to know all about the party; where it is, what you’ll be doing etc. If your event involves alcohol, you should also ask your staff to monitor and limit how much alcohol they drink and let them know how they can get to the venue (and home again) safely.

Also, it’s a good idea to send around a copy of your company’s drug and alcohol policy a week or two before the party to remind them of their obligations. enableHR users can send their ‘Alcohol and Other Drugs’ and ‘Business and Social Functions’ policies to staff through the Employee Self-Service. This way, you can track which employees have read and acknowledged the policy. And, if an incident arises, you have immediate access to the policy records to prove your employee was aware of their obligations.

By setting out the ground rules, you’re ensuring that you can discipline unacceptable behaviour fairly if an employee breaks these rules.

3. Plan to make sure your people are safe

When organising an office Christmas party, you and your business are liable for your employees’ health and safety. Some of the things your business should consider the following:

Limiting alcohol supply

While this may be an unpopular decision with staff, setting a limit on the bar tab, will help avoid any misconduct issues that typically follow the holiday season. You can also ensure that alcohol is physically served to employees; this will give you some control over discretely “cutting off” someone who may have had too much to drink.

Arranging transportation

As part of your Christmas party planning, make sure you take all reasonable steps to ensure employees get all the way home safely. Transportation can be as simple as directing employees to the nearest cab rank or train station, or it may require hiring a shuttle bus or arranging taxi chits. Remember, the last thing you want is for your employees to pick up their car at the office and drive home under the influence of alcohol.


Security is another essential consideration for Christmas parties. If the venue doesn’t have its own, or the venue security is insufficient for the size of your group, you may need to make other arrangements. It also can’t hurt to inquire about the venue’s surveillance capabilities and policies. Hopefully, your party won’t require either. Though, when something goes astray, surveillance and security footage may be crucial for gathering evidence about an event.

Medical aid

You never know what could happen at a party, so it’s always best to play it safe and ensure there is adequate medical assistance onsite or nearby. Make sure you locate the nearest hospital, check that you have first aiders available onsite, and ensure there is transportation (such as an ambulance) available if needed.

If you have any questions about planning a safe end-of-year function for your workplace, get in touch with the enableHR team.