The Christmas holiday season is almost upon us, which means it is about time for the annual office party. We've all heard the horror stories of what can happen during and after one of these events, but an article I've dug up from 2005 - The Office Party: How to Keep it from Turning into the Nightmare before Christmas - has some great suggestions for how to keep things on an even keel.
The first thing to keep in mind is that no matter how much you try to make it an out-of-office function, the party is an extension of work. So, a boss ordering another employee to give another worker a ride home could be liable if an accident occurs. The rule there is, be careful. So it may be best that the party not be held on company property.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that managers need to be careful about what they say. While some judges have been lenient about potentially sexist and racist comments stated during an office party, that may not stop an offended employee from bringing a lawsuit. The rules a manager follows during the day about sexual and other forms of harassment should be followed at the party as well.
Finally, remember that alcohol loosens lips. There have been many stories of trade and corporate secrets exchanged during office parties because of too much alcohol lubrication. Sending out a friendly reminder about this may help people keep a tighter reign on their mouths.
The article has other tips that should help keep the party fun and safe for everyone involved. Nothing spoils the holidays quite as much as a serious lawsuit all because things got out of hand at the holiday shindig.