“Keep the Christmas cheers cheerful” is the message the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC) and ACC have for those attending workplace Christmas functions.
Christmas is a time for celebration but let’s not make alcohol and getting drunk the focus of the celebrations,” said ALAC Chief Executive Gerard Vaughan.
“Christmas parties used to be considered legendary for stories about people doing harm to themselves and others. However, many workplaces are now taking steps to encourage their staff to ease up on the drink and reduce the harm caused by excess drinking.
“We are seeing a trend away from alcohol-focused workplace parties to more team and family activities for Christmas celebrations. Family picnics, team activities such as treasure hunts or quiz nights, or visiting local attractions are all becoming more popular for workplaces at this time of the year. Some are holding completely alcohol-free family events,” he said.
Keith McLea, ACC’s General Manager Insurance & Prevention Services, said it is important that workplaces have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas and the year gone by, but these events should be a celebration, not a cause for concern.
"At this time of the year many people drink too much and end up hurting themselves and others. Drinking alcohol increases the likelihood of injury from falls, fights, burns and road crashes. Nobody wants to end up in hospital over Christmas so ease up on the drink,” he said.
ALAC and ACC have the following tips if you are planning a workplace function with alcohol and want to be a responsible host.
Tips for workplace Christmas functions
As the employer you’re the host
Set your expectations in advance. Say that you won’t be impressed by drunken behaviour. Model good behaviour yourself.
Get loads of substantial food rolling early on in the evening and make sure it’s available throughout the function.
Make sure alcohol is not the only choice of drink
Serve more interesting non-alcoholic drinks than just orange juice. It’s surprising how people will really enjoy something like a grapefruit and tonic with a chunk of mint in it for a change.
Don’t serve people who are getting intoxicated
Brief your waiters if it’s an in-house party. If it’s on a licensed premise, it shouldn’t happen anyway because it’s illegal to allow people to become intoxicated on licensed premises or serve intoxicated people. Really watch out for the younger staff, particularly those under 18. Check how the law applies if you’re the host or taking them out to a licensed premise.
Plan some sort of activity so that people have something to do other than just drinking and eating. If you’re having the function out of the office choose a location that includes an activity such as bowling, pool, dancing etc.
Focus on families
Hold an event in a family environment, like the zoo, provide entertainment and make it alcohol free. Make the focus about the company families getting together and catching up.