Christmas parties are a great opportunity to show your appreciation. But you must be careful to limit your risk otherwise you may be dealing with a hangover of a different type.
Employment law applies outside of the workplace and so you may be liable for problems as they are still considered to be ‘in the course of employment’. When you choose a venue also ensure you consider how accessible it is for disabled employees and their partners.
You can discriminate against people by excluding them from the Christmas party. Furthermore if partners are to invited then those in same-sex relationships must be treated the same.
Too much alcohol can reduce your social inhibitions and standards of conduct leading to violence and sexual harassment. Even if the perpetrator is intoxicated it is no excuse so you must be sensible about the arrangements you make and consider limiting the amount of alcohol provided.
Treat everyone with respect, act reasonably, deal consistently in all circumstances and handle issues promptly. There is merit in creating a specific policy on behaviour at office parties.
Everyone wants to have fun and you want to reward staff for a job well done, but remember the inherent risks.