The Regency Conference Center has been the preferred location for many holiday office celebrations. From the Staff in the “back of the room” perspective, we have seen how alcohol consumption can be both a key feature of the evening, yet an awkward experience for many guests who ignore professionalism and simply let down their hair a little too much. If you are the lucky person responsible for planning the Holiday Party for your company, here are a few tips we have referred to as “good ideas” to help reduce those more “awkward” moments when everyone returns to the office.
Communicate Your Expectations
One proactive way to reduce risks and liabilities related to drinking at the office party is to simply communicate your expectations to your employees. Slipping a note in their paycheck reminding them about the party and encouraging them to attend but remember to drink responsibly. Ask department leaders have more casual conversations with newer employees, who may have never attended a Holiday party in previous years, and make sure they are comfortable with proper etiquette to avoid embarrassment.
Calculate Safe Consumption Limits
Drink tickets are a great way to help manage both the cost and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The common question we often receive relates to how many to give? While a person’s size, weight, sex and tolerance to alcohol are important factors on how to determine an individual’s safe tolerance, it is highly unlikely you have this information handy on everyone coming to your event to support an advanced decision. In general, we suggest you consider the length of your event when distributing tickets and the time it might take for alcohol to be consumed and processed through their system. Additionally, encouraging non-alcoholic beverages like soft drinks, tea or coffee through the evening gives your guests alternate drink options to choose, especially after they have had their limit.
Offer an Incentive
One of the more effective plans we have seen was offering an incentive to be responsible for the evening. At the beginning of the event, their CEO made an announcement that each person was being entered in a drawing for an extra week of Vacation in the upcoming year; however, there was a process they had to go through to ensure they remained qualified to earn this prize. First, they had put their car keys into a small manila envelope. Second, they had to put their name on the envelope and identify a designated driver with them, or someone to be contacted for them if they needed a ride home. Once done, they put the envelope in a basket which was collected by a designated person at the table who took them to the “Key Check” table. At the end of the evening, they could collect their keys from the “Key Check” table on their way out. The same table manned by two Police Officers. The CEO further explained that it may seem like a rather extreme hurdle to jump to enter a raffle; but that each person present was an important part of the company. And while they were unable to gift everyone with an extra week; they wanted to make sure the employee who did receive this special prize, was around to enjoy it.
From our perspective, it looked like everyone participated. Those who wanted the liberty of consuming drinks did so in a responsible manner and left either as a passenger in their own car or that of a Cab paid for by the company.
Offer Plated Meal Options
While many meeting coordinators tend to lean toward a Buffet thinking it offers more choices for their guests, it also leaves a window of opportunity for guests to avoid eating or avoid eating a good meal – especially before consuming alcohol.
One year we had a Meeting Planner organize her menu in advance, choosing two entre options. Employees were asked to R.S.V.P. to the event and indicate their entre choice so she knew what to communicate to us for preparation. At each table, they also included 2 bottles of wine, which were shared among those seated at the table. For additional drinks, soft drinks, tea, and coffee were provided on a separate self-serve drink station, but no other alcoholic drinks were provided.
In a follow-up with her, after her event, she indicated that ‘a few years back, one of her employees actually made the suggestion, after feeling sorry for those who carried the weight of the embarrassment the day after. Offering enough for everyone to toast and wash down dinner was a simple way to encourage everyone to celebrate responsibly and within professional measures that made everyone feel comfortable.’
These are just a few stories that stand out in our minds as an effective way to promote responsible consumption of alcohol at an event. If you need assistance putting these, or your own ideas into motion, please reach out to our professional staff.