November 19, 2019

Office party survival tips

man with mistletoe tie

With the ‘silly season’ fast approaching, it is important to consider how to maintain your own health and wellbeing during the end of year period and how to organise end-of-year events that are healthy, safe and inclusive.

Have fun and avoid a hangover

Here are some helpful tips for enjoying your office end of year celebrations, without the day-after regret.

  1. Don’t have pre-drinks before the event. Studies have shown that having drinks before an event where alcohol is served increases consumption and can increase the likelihood of hospital admissions or other adverse outcomes.1-4
  2. Set a drinking limit before the event and stick to it. Don’t feel pressured to drink heavily just because your boss is covering the tab, or because someone has ordered a round of shots. The National Health and Medical Research Centre recommends drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion to avoid injury or illness.5
  3. Eat before and during the event. Don’t consume alcohol on an empty stomach. Alcohol takes longer to be absorbed by the body when there is food in the stomach.6-8
  4. Pace your alcoholic drinks. Drink water or non-alcoholic drinks like soft-drink, soda water or juice between beer, wine or spirits.
  5. Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol impacts your ability to drive safely.9-12 The legal limit for alcohol consumption while operating a motor vehicle in Australia is 0.05 blood alcohol content (BAC). However, it is difficult to measure your own impairment, as alcohol affects everyone differently depending on their height and weight, gender, drinking habits and volume of alcohol. The safest option is to organise alternative transport home, such as catching public transport, ordering a rideshare or a taxi, or assigning someone to be a designated driver.
  6. Don’t use illicit drugs. An office party is still a workplace event and most workplaces have a policy that outlines expected behaviour and explains consequences for breaches of conduct. Additionally, possession of illicit drugs is a criminal offence and you may be liable for prosecution.13

Organising a safe event

If you are organising your office party, here are some tips to limit the amount of alcohol your co-workers consume and ensure everyone has an enjoyable time.

  1. Consider the time of your event and the venue. Schedule your office party for during the day, rather than the evening. Consider organising your party at a venue other than a bar; like a cinema, an escape room, bowling alley or a park.
  2. Provide food. Ensure your event provides food, preferably substantial hot food rather than salty or sugar-laden snacks.
  3. Provide entertainment. Plan activities such as karaoke, lawn bowls, trivia, dancing or games. This will encourage socialising between colleagues and ensure people have something to focus on other than drinking.
  4. Impose a limit on the bar tab if your workplace is providing alcohol. An unlimited bar encourages people to drink more than is recommended. Instead, consider offering each staff member one or two tokens that can be exchanged for a drink and instruct the bar servers that any additional alcohol must be purchased by individuals.

Related content

  1. Labhart F, Graham K, Wells S, Kuntsche E. Drinking before going to licensed premises: an event-level analysis of predrinking, alcohol consumption, and adverse outcomes. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2013;37(2):284-91.
  2. Hughes K, Anderson Z, Morleo M, Bellis MA. Alcohol, nightlife and violence: the relative contributions of drinking before and during nights out to negative health and criminal justice outcomes. Addiction (Abingdon, England). 2008;103(1):60-5.
  3. Foster JH, Ferguson C. Alcohol ‘Pre-loading’: A Review of the Literature. Alcohol and alcoholism. 2013;49(2):213-26.
  4. Barton A. Controlling pre‐loaders: alcohol related violence in an English night time economy. Drugs and Alcohol Today. 2012;12(2):89-97.
  5. Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. 2009.
  6. Cederbaum AI. Alcohol metabolism. Clinics in liver disease. 2012;16(4):667-85.
  7. Holt S. Observations on the relation between alcohol absorption and the rate of gastric emptying. Canadian Medical Association journal. 1981;124(3):267-97.
  8. Watkins RL, Adler EV. The effect of food on alcohol absorption and elimination patterns. J Forensic Sci. 1993;38(2):285-91.
  9. Nagata T, Setoguchi S, Hemenway D, Perry M. Effectiveness of a law to reduce alcohol-impaired driving in Japan. Injury prevention : journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention. 2008;14:19-23.
  10. National Academies of Sciences E, Medicine. Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: A Comprehensive Approach to a Persistent Problem. Teutsch SM, Geller A, Negussie Y, editors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2018. 606 p.
  11. Hall WD, Cobiac LJ, Doran CM, Vos T, Wallace AL. How can we reduce alcohol-related road crash deaths among young Australians? 2010:464.
  12. Sheppard L, Killoran A, Canning U, Doyle N. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths. : Centre for Public Health Excellence, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence; 2010.
  13. Victoria Legal Aid.Drug possession: Victoria Legal Aid; 2018

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