After Holiday Parties

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The holiday season is upon us, which for most people means a flurry of activity involving shopping, family, friends and work events.  Although most of these activities are fun and something we look forward to, they can also cause stress if there are too many of them and we have to find a way to jam them all into our schedules. If you are a business owner or in charge of planning the holiday party for your company, you may be trying to find some way to accommodate everyone’s schedules and finding it nearly impossible.  If this is a challenge you’re facing, you may want to consider having your holiday party after the holidays are over, in January, February or even March.

“December is so busy for people and it’s hard to put your co-worker’s party before your family and friends,” states Lori Miller with Lincoln Tent.

“While many groups book the month of December for their holiday party, surprisingly many more are booking after the new year,” adds Jennifer Davis-Korn with 48 Bowl.  “In Lincoln, January and February are also heavy bowling tournament months, so we may also have limited booking availability on those months’ weekends.  What we really suggest, if you would like the most availability for booking times and the least expensive rates, is to consider having your company party at a non-holiday time.  Consider the months of May through August in our centers!”

“Lane availability can be problem in January and February,” agrees John Losito with Sun Valley Lanes, “so you should book ahead, or plan a “Christmas in July” party.   The summer months are the ‘slow season’ for a bowling center, so pricing discounts may be available in the summer months.”

Party Ideas

Even though your party will already be ‘unique’ because you’re having it outside the holiday season, you can still come up with fun ideas that will add even more enjoyment to the event.
“Some of the best parties we’ve seen utilize amenities like our stereo system (groups often bring their own music or emcee), Glo-Zone bowling (lights out, glowing ball, pins & walls), and our computer scoring system’s ability to play different games (like 9-pin No-Tap or Red Pin) while your guests bowl,” says Jennifer Davis-Korn.

“Anything out of the ordinary usually goes over well,” agrees John Losito. “We’ll play fun bowling games and have contests throughout the night as well as giveaway prizes. We’ve even had mascots walking around, costume contests, and magicians here during private events!   We’ll throw in a few team-based bowling games to help increase team chemistry within an organization.   In addition to the bowling, your staff can enjoy billiards, air hockey, darts, shuffle board, and many other games in our game room and lounge!”

Another great, unique idea is to take your staff to The Corky Canvas for your party!  The Corky Canvas offers groups to each paint their own canvas with the help of an instructor.  There is also a bar in case your staff wants a little extra holiday cheer!  At the end of the night, your group will not only have had a great time and a closer relationship with one another, but they will also have a piece of art to take home with them!

Decorations

If you’re having your party at a location where you can decorate, you have a number of different options.  Consider keeping the holidays alive by decorating with lights, trees or other Christmas-based décor.  You can usually get these items extremely inexpensively after the holiday are over or you can work with a company who does holiday decorating.  If you’d like to make your party less of a holiday theme, consider decorating with fresh flowers of the season.  If your party is late enough in the year, you might even be able to get everyone looking forward to spring with some blossoms that signify warmer months ahead!

Planning Advice

“There’s a saying I like,” says Lori Miller with Lincoln Tent.  “There’s a reason God sent Jesus and not a committee.  Have one person in charge of planning the party!  Let them delegate to whomever they need to, but have one person have the final say.  It takes a lot less time and usually ends up being a better event.”

“Plan the party around what the employees attending will want,” John Losito with Sun Valley Lanes adds.  “It won’t be successful unless the employees attending enjoy it!  We can customize a party for any group of people.  We’ll customize the games, the prizes, and even the animations that display on your TV screens while bowling!  If it’s a large center rental event, we can even customize the music videos that will play over your lanes while you bowl.   You book the event, let us know what you want, and then sit-back, relax, and enjoy the party as we’ll take it from there.”

One issue that many companies face is serving alcoholic beverages at their event.  Woods & Aitken law firm has the following advice regarding alcohol:

Once school starts it seems like winter and the holiday season are here in the blink of an eye. Now is the best time to start planning for the company party season. These company events are intended to be festive—a chance to reward employees and celebrate the season. Therefore good intentions and good cheer should be combined with thoughtfulness and a degree of prudence in order to minimize the risk of liability that can result from these events, especially when alcohol is involved.

Consumption of alcohol is the root of many holiday party problems. Simply not serving alcohol is one solution to many holiday party issues that can be considered. For many employers and employees, however, a bit of holiday “cheer” is part of the celebration. Where alcohol is served, three forms of potential for liability are in the picture: social host liability, worker’s compensation liability, and harassment liability.

Social host liability arises when your intoxicated guest causes injury. The risk is greatest for drunken driving accidents that occur when an impaired guest drives away from the party and gets into an accident. States vary as to whether they impose social host liability. Nebraska does not have a social host law designating a host responsible for injuries caused by an impaired adult. However, Nebraska will impose liability for harm caused by intoxicated minors (those under age 21) who consumed alcohol on property controlled by the social host. In those states that hold social hosts liable in an employer-employee situation, whether by statute or by court decision, there typically needs to be a connection between the employment and the impairment. Such connections may include holding the party on company property, having the party during work hours or while the employee was on the clock, or serving alcohol provided by the employer.

Worker compensation liability for injuries that occur during a company party will depend on whether the injury “arises out of and in the course of employment.” Under Nebraska law, that would require a court to conclude that any one of the following criteria was met: (1) the activity occurred on company property, (2) the employee was expressly or impliedly required to attend the party, (3) the activity was part of the employee’s service to the employer, or (4) the employer derived substantial benefit from the activity beyond the intangible value of improvement in employee morale.

Finally, employers must stay alert to potential employee harassment. Employers are well advised to establish, communicate and actively enforce harassment policies. As we all know, though, the introduction of alcohol lowers inhibitions, which increases the possibility of harassment.

What can your company do to limit your liability?
1. Remind employees about company policies (particularly with regard to harassment).
2. Make the party voluntary and expressly communicate that to employees.
3. Hold the party off-premises and outside of normal work hours, preferably on a weeknight.
4. Require identification to determine age. Consider hiring professional bartenders who are trained in serving guests, checking identification, and identifying and cutting-off the overindulged.
5. Designate “Party Managers” who will circulate during the party to better assure that alcohol consumption is controlled and that unwanted behavior is minimized.
6. Consider issuing tickets for free drinks and limit the number given to each guest.
7. Limit the time the bar is open, and strictly enforce the cut-off time.
8. If you are going to serve alcohol, do not serve hard alcohol. Limit drinks to beer, wine and non­alcoholic beverages.
9. Serve food rich in starch and protein rather than simply salty, sweet, or greasy food.
10. Offer an alternative to driving—free taxi rides, designated drivers, or discounted rooms if the event is at a hotel.

Having a company holiday party is vitally important to the morale of your company and to show your employees you have appreciated their hard work all year.  Having the party after the busy months is showing you respect their schedule and want the party to be as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.  By taking the above suggestions, you can have a unique, safe and memorable after-holiday party that will achieve all of your goals.