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Host responsibly this festive season

Workplace events are a great way to build team spirit and round off a busy year. If you’re treating your staff this festive season — especially if you’re serving alcohol — here are some tips to help you be a responsible host while ensuring everyone has a great time.

Be a great host

Putting on a holiday celebration for your employees is a way to say thank you for a busy year.

You may choose to offer alcohol at your event, or allow people to bring their own. If you do choose to include alcohol at your workplace function, make sure it’s supplied in a way that fits with your workplace alcohol policy.

If you don’t have a workplace alcohol policy, you can create one using the Health and Wellbeing template on Workplace Policy Builder.

If you don’t have a workplace alcohol policy, you can create one using the Health and Wellbeing template on Workplace Policy Builder.

You can create other policies too, including flexible work, leave and holidays, IT and social media, and family violence.

Workplace Policy Builder(external link)

You don’t have to serve alcohol at work events for everyone to have a good time and feel appreciated for their hard work.

Ways to build connection and celebrate a busy year without alcohol might include:

  • timing events for when alcohol wouldn’t be expected – maybe at breakfast or morning tea
  • focusing on an activity, learning something new or visiting somewhere, rather than eating and drinking
  • volunteering – many businesses sponsor their teams to take a day off to help the community.

Serving alcohol at work events

If you do serve alcohol at your work event you must be a responsible host. It’s about helping people enjoy themselves and staying safe while drinking alcohol.

That means providing plenty of food, water and low or non-alcoholic options, ensuring no one drinks alcohol who shouldn’t (eg, anyone under 18 or people driving), and helping people get home safely.

Age and the law(external link) —

Check if you need an alcohol licence. It will depend on the size of your function, whether it’s open to the public, and whether alcohol is sold or supplied. The alcohol licensing team at your local council should be able to help.

Council maps and websites(external link) — Local Government New Zealand

What you can do

These tips work well for any event or party, not just work functions. You may want to share them with your staff or anyone else helping you host.

  • Limit the supply of alcohol: Provide only a certain number of drinks per person. Ideally, have someone serve alcohol rather than allow self-service.
  • Provide alternatives to alcohol: Have plenty of low and non-alcoholic options and drinking water.
  • Say “Yeah, Nah”: It’s totally OK to say “Nah” to another beer, and “Yeah” to a glass of water instead.
  • Eat up: Encourage people to eat and make sure it’s easy for them to access food.
  • Mingle, talk, play, dance: Put on some games and activities, play music for people to dance to, so they have more to do than just drink.
  • Model behaviour: Make sure everyone knows a certain standard of behaviour is expected. Make sure you, as the host, lead by example.
  • Be SunSmart: If your function is outside, encourage people to bring a hat and glasses. Make sure you provide sunscreen that is water-resistant, broad spectrum, at least 30SPF. Have spare hats for those who forget their own.
  • Look after young people: Remind everyone to keep an eye out for each other, both to discourage too much drinking and to help young people, or anyone, who may have had too much alcohol.
  • Get home safe: If you’re offering alcohol, it’s your responsibility to make sure everyone can get home safely. Have a transport plan and even provide some taxis.

The Health Promotion Agency has a helpful guide to learn more about keeping employees safe when drinking alcohol at work.

Serving alcohol safely at work events [PDF, 137KB](external link) —

If you work in a safety-sensitive industry, discourage your people from coming to work hungover. Alcohol impairment can last into the next day, creating safety risks for the employee and those working with them. That’s another good reason to limit alcohol, or hold your work do before a non-work day.

Alcohol facts and information for employers(external link) — Wellplace

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