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Five tips to reduce excessive drinking at office Christmas parties

With mental health issues and alcohol consumption on the rise since Covid-19, it’s an opportune time to reassess the role of alcohol at office Christmas parties this year by encouraging more responsible drinking practices.

Office Christmas parties are notoriously fuelled by excessive alcohol consumption and with employers liable for any inappropriate or unlawful behaviour that occurs it is important for them to educate staff as to what their expectations are around alcohol and drinking, as well as ensuring controls are implemented on the amount of alcohol provided.

Here are five simple tips to create a safer, less alcohol-centric vibe for your office Christmas celebration.

1. Set expectations

This should be a priority. Open and clear communication with staff is important. Send a group email to all staff which sets expectations around drinking and acceptable behaviour at the office Christmas party. Boundaries and guidelines should be clearly communicated beforehand so that staff understand and acknowledge the information.

2. Focus on an activity

Instead of sitting around a table eating and drinking, choose a theme or activity for your party that takes the focus away from alcohol and provides another way to interact and engage. Ideas include: an escape room, a health spa, cooking classes, lawn bowls, golf lessons or a concert/show.

3. Supply a variety of non-alcoholic drinks

Make sure you have a variety of non-alcoholic drinks available including both soft drinks and non-alcoholic beers, wine and mixers. This sends a message to staff that alcohol is not being given preference over other drinks and that everyone is catered for. There are some wonderful non-alcoholic online drinks suppliers nowadays.

4. Limit alcohol supply

Keep a tally of how much alcohol you want to supply and set a limit prior to the party. You can do this both via the amount you order and how long you have it available for. Guidelines for the maximum number of standard drinks vary based on country, so it would be advisable to cater to within these limits or slightly less per person.

5. Lead by example

If you are the boss or are in a leadership role this is a wonderful opportunity to drink less and show others that you can enjoy the office Christmas party without drinking to excess. Encourage people to try the non-alcoholic options by showing them what is on offer and make sure you check in with staff the next day for their feedback.

This story first appeared on Inside Small Business, and has been republished with permission.

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