Tips to Host a Safe (but Fun) Holiday Party at your Dealership

holiday party

Alcohol, food, games, gifts, decorations – too many decisions. This was supposed to be fun and easy! Here are some quick tips to make planning your party easier.

Alcohol – Yes or No?

If you serve alcohol to someone under 21 years old, you can incur serious liability. What is the age range of your guests?

Likewise, if you over-serve alcohol to somebody and they get into a traffic accident on the way home, you can be held liable. One way to prevent that catastrophe is to arrange in advance for transportation home for those that want or need it. Check out buying credits in advance from Lyft and Uber, or perhaps make arrangements with a local taxi company. Consider transportation an important aspect of your party’s budget if you plan to provide alcohol.

There’s More to It

Another way to contain the problems alcohol can present is to hire professional bartenders to do the serving. Make sure they are licensed, insured and trained in the ways to properly serve (and refuse to serve, if necessary) alcohol. Some party hosts use drink coupons or vouchers, maybe two drinks per person, to discourage over-consumption. It’s good to stop serving an hour or two before the party ends.

If you are hosting the party at your dealership, make sure your liability insurance covers liquor on premises. Yes, there is a lot to consider before you simply pick up some beer, wine, liquor and a few bags of ice. Sorry.


Necessary if there will be alcohol, obviously, and expected otherwise. Don’t risk food-borne illnesses by cooking or having your guests bring food. Catering from local grocery stores is very inexpensive, and of good quality too. All you arrange is delivery and somebody to serve. Get the usual paper plates, cutlery and plastic cups (no glass). If you are cleaning up, get big plastic garbage bags for the trash cans.

When choosing food from the caterer’s menu, consider the vegetarians, the lactose intolerant and others with special diets among your staff.


No ladders (people fall off them when placing decorations too high), loose extension cords (they are trip hazards), or overloaded electrical outlets. Keep it simple. Absolutely no open flames, like candles or food warmers. Otherwise, you are creating more things to worry over. When buying decorations, consider the varied religious beliefs among your staff. Try to include all the ones you are aware of, as well as some generic wishes for happy holidays.

Gifts or Games?

Best to not hand out bonuses checks at a party. A very popular way to get everybody involved in fun, for an hour or so, is a gift exchange. Everybody brings one wrapped gift (priced at $15 or $20), and as each person has a chance to choose an unwrapped gift, they can instead take an already opened gift away from someone else. Be ready for some friendly competition over the popular gifts.

Want to Really Be Special?

Who among your staff became widowed this year, or suffered a similar major loss? Chances are they dread going to social engagements alone. See who among your staff would volunteer to take them as an unofficial ‘friendship date.’