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Ask Leslie: Will My Employees Think I'm A Grinch If I Don't Have A Holiday Party?

By Leslie Zieren, The McCalmon Group, Inc.

Dear Leslie:

Our small company had a hard year, financially, and we are cutting costs everywhere we can. Every year in the past, we have had a holiday party for the employees, but we would prefer not to have that expenditure this year. I guess I can weather being seen as a Grinch, but are there any other risks to avoid?

Signed: Apparently, a Grinch


Dear Apparently:

There is no law requiring your organization to have a holiday party or any other celebration, so not having one this year, particularly based on being fiscally responsible, creates no legal peril.

You are correct that you risk being seen as a Grinch. Have you considered an event that will not break the budget? It works for some organizations, for example, give their employees half a day or a day off to engage in a community service project of their choice. Then, the next day, employees are welcome to bring a pot luck item to share for lunch, at which time stories about the volunteering experience are shared.

This kind of event offers all the "feel good" of a traditional holiday gathering, with food, camaraderie, and uplifting conversations, but without any significant expense.

Perhaps you can brainstorm with some of your management team and employees about a holiday party replacement event. You may be surprised by their creativity and enthusiasm for something new.

Jack McCalmon and Leslie Zieren are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.

If you have a question that you would like Jack McCalmon or Leslie Zieren to consider for this column, please submit it to Please note that The McCalmon Group cannot guarantee that your question will be answered. Answers are based on generally accepted risk management best practices. They are not, and should not be considered, legal advice. If you need an answer immediately or desire legal advice, please call your local legal counsel.

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