Skip to Main Content

Holiday Parties That Include Alcohol May Pose Risk

Dec 20, 14

The holiday season is meant to be a time of celebration, bringing family, friends and colleagues together. Businesses often take advantage of the holidays by hosting company gatherings to celebrate another year gone, and a job well done. Oftentimes, employers serve beer, wine or spirits during parties as well.

As a company, it’s not always easy deciding whether or not to offer alcohol, as it’s a popular accompaniment. Yet, it’s important to mitigate your risk within reason, and protect your attendees as well as your business.

You can minimize risk by taking a few simple precautions:

  1. Clearly communicate with employees that work policies apply, even after work hours. Have human resources or management send a company-wide email reminding employees of work behavior policies before the party.
  2. Don’t provide open access to alcohol. Form a system to track the number of alcoholic beverages guests consume, such as drink tickets. Better yet, hire someone to serve alcohol at your establishment.
  3. Have a back-up plan for employees who drink too much. Provide alternative transportation, such as a bus or pre-paid taxi.
  4. Host your party off-site at a venue with a liquor license. At a restaurant or bar, the wait staff should be responsible for cutting off obviously intoxicated individuals. Of course, if an employee is clearly intoxicated, the employer is still responsible for preventing the person from operating a motor vehicle.
  5. Choose not to serve alcohol. One of the easiest ways to limit potential risk is by not putting your business, or self, at risk. Instead, create a holiday party experience focused on team building or volunteer for a local organization.


If you decide to host a party on your work premises and serve alcohol, you may be held responsible if an employee is injured during activities or while driving home. Take time to thoroughly examine your policies and plan a holiday party that’s safe and fun.

The legal team at Janklow Law in Sioux Falls hope you have a safe and Happy Holiday Season. 

It is great to work with the attorneys at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah. They always provide excellent advice and service that is second to none.

Mike Miller | former NBA player

The lawyers at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah are consistently ranked as the top business lawyers in the state. Our business can always count on them to aggressively fight for our rights and provide straight-forward advice on complex issues.

Mark McNeary | Primrose Retirement Communities, LLC

Lawyers from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah regularly participate in legal education by judging intramural student skills competitions; helping prepare our nationally competitive litigation skills teams; serving or leading the South Dakota State Bar's Law School Committee; and, from time to time , providing guest lecturers. The Law School is grateful for the generous participation of lawyers like those from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah.

Tom Geu | former Dean, USD School of Law