Hosting Recovery-Friendly Office Parties

By Published On: November 23rd, 2022Categories: Alcohol Addiction, Behavior & Lifestyle

With the holidays soon approaching, employers are planning their annual holiday office parties, a tradition that many organizations embrace as a chance to reward employees for another year of collaboration and results, and to enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed social setting. Though alcohol might be a welcome addition to communal gatherings like these in many work environments, it’s important to accommodate those uninterested in or abstaining from alcohol by ensuring there are non-alcoholic options. This type of inclusivity helps ensure everyone feels included.

Here are a few tips to help you plan a recovery-friendly office party:

  • Center the Party Around an Activity or Event, not Drinking

If alcohol is served, making sure the event is centered around an activity or event—rather than just drinks—helps create a fun and inclusive atmosphere. Team building exercises like group painting, escape rooms, bowling, or other such activities are all good ways to bring everyone together. Working together to give back is also a nice way to organize a holiday gathering. Volunteering and joining in a collected effort not only enriches our sense of community, but also inspires the giving spirit of the holiday season.

  • Focus on Food-Themed Parties

Holiday events can also be food-themed to take the focus off drinking. This can be as simple as meeting at popular food trucks or as elaborate as crafting themed food stations for attendees to enjoy. Non-alcoholic drinks of various kinds can naturally fit with food-centric holiday office parties—coffee or hot chocolate can be offered with the option to add other flavors or toppings. And if the party will incorporate a toast or special announcement, having alcohol-free beer, apple cider, or even some more sophisticated “mock-tails” in addition to whatever alcoholic beverages are being offered provides a welcome alternative to some people in recovery—especially those who don’t wish to disclose their recovery to their employer.

  • Avoid Alcohol in Your Holiday Gift Exchange

When hosting a holiday gift exchange, it’s useful to set ground rules not only on price but also on gift content. If someone in the exchange might be in recovery or struggling with substances, telling everyone beforehand that the gifts cannot contain alcohol, or any other illicit substance could prevent a challenging situation from occurring. Setting expectations beforehand can also help curb any unwanted behavior. Reminding attendees that it is a work-related event, and that HR policies remain intact can help ensure a welcoming environment for all.

Making sure never to pressure any of the employees to attend or stay a certain amount of time is also important. Whether it’s a recovery-related matter or some other personal obligation, all should be allowed to join for as much or as little as they choose.

The holidays are meant to be a joyful time when we embrace the comfort and comradery of those around us. But they can also be a difficult time for those in recovery. Relapses occur more frequently around the holidays, with seasonal depression, family strain, financial difficulties, and other struggles often serving as contributing factors. But by making your holiday party a fun and welcoming occasion for those in recovery, you could be making someone’s holiday season all that much brighter.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call the New England Recovery Center today at 1-877-MyRehab. 

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