When planning a holiday party at their homes, most hosts are focused on figuring out what they’ll serve, how they’ll decorate, and who they’ll invite. But there’s another crucial component to party planning that hosts will be smart to remember: ensuring that your home provides a genuinely safe environment for the party.
Does that sound boring? Unnecessary? Like total overkill, or potential party buzzkill? It’s not. As a homeowner, you could be held personally liable if a guest injures themselves on your property. You could even be held liable if you serve them alcohol and they elect to drive drunk when leaving your property. But mostly, don’t you just want to make sure that nobody ends up injured?
Anyway, none of this is hard. And the bottom line is that doing these four very basic things will help you reduce the risk that someone may end up hurt at or after your party.
1. Check the Outside
First off, can everyone get into your house safely? Specifically, you’ll want to:
- Clear exterior walkways. Do you need to rake leaves or shovel snow? Could the sidewalk use a fresh sprinkling of de-icer? Are there any tools, hoses, bikes, or toys that should be put away so that nobody trips? Do you need to fix any steps or railings? Do what it takes to ensure a safe, clear approach to your home.
- Check exterior lights. Most likely, your holiday party starts after sundown. Make sure your porch lights are working properly, and that they’re illuminated on the night of your holiday party.
2. Check the Inside
Next, is everything good once guests get inside? Walk into and through your house, trying to see it as a stranger might. Make sure to:
- Clear interior walkways. You may be used to walking over that cord stretched across the entryway to the bathroom, but your guests won’t be. So make sure to remove anything like that, as well as any toys, shoes, or other clutter that could pose a trip hazard.
- Remove or fix other potential hazards around the house. Again,try to see your home afresh. Are there rumpled rugs that need straightening? Candles or breakables that should be put away? Things with dangling cords or other appendages — supremely enticing to toddlers and young children — that could fall on whomever were to grab them? Move or disappear anything potentially problematic.
- Move furniture as needed. Make sure guests can move around your space as easily as possible. Can they make their way around that overstuffed chair? Would traffic flow better if you moved that sofa back a few inches? Do you really need all those chairs clustered around the table when most guests will end up standing?
- Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Yes, we’re going to say this one ad nauseam. Because almost everyone underestimates the importance of regularly testing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If your detectors aren’t working, you need to know. In fact, it’s best to get in the habit of testing them monthly… not only before you host a holiday party.
3. Make a Plan for Drinking Guests
If you’ll be serving alcoholic beverages at your holiday party, it’s important to have a plan in place that makes sure everyone gets home safely. Don’t just assume everyone knows their limits. Instead, be a real friend and create a safety net by doing the following:
Set the expectation that nobody should drive impaired. In advance. In your written invite, or maybe your invitation reminder. You can keep it casual. Encourage carpooling and designated drivers. Reassure them that Lyft, Uber, and taxis can all find your house just fine. Plan to serve plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. Offer up an enticing non-alcoholic punch, some high-quality sodas, and plenty of bottles of water. Plan to serve food. Don’t just serve drinks. Make sure the food you serve is substantial enough to fill guests’ bellies. Appetizers are fine, as long as they’ve got some heft. Use smaller cups. Those gargantuan red Solo cups hold far more alcohol than a single serving. Keeping your cups small encourages more reasonable drink sizes. Plan to limit your own alcohol intake at the party. That way, you’ll be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety. You could even style yourself as the “Keymaster,” like Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) in the John Hughes classic Say Anything, taking everyone’s keys at the start of the party. Consider hiring a professional bartender. They’re trained to recognize when people have had enough to drink, and thus less likely to overserve. Pay attention, use your best judgment, and take control when needed. Don’t let someone leave who shouldn’t get behind the wheel. If someone appears to have had too much to drink, gently say, “Hey, we’ve had a great time tonight. I want you to keep having a great time, so let me call a Lyft or an Uber for you.” It’s a positive, no-judgment way to get them back on the path to a safe trip home.
4. Make a Plan for Your Pet
Imagine you’re suddenly at a party nobody told you about, and it’s at your house. All of these weird strangers are there. Annoyingly, you can only see up to everyone’s knees, and since you’re low to the ground, people keep bumping into you and almost stepping on you. On top of that, you smell all sorts of good food that’s juuust beyond your reach. So you obsessively start following people around, hoping they’ll drop what they’re eating so you can have some of the delicious-smelling food. You eat whatever drops, whether it’s a good idea or not. Also, all these weird strangers? They keep touching you. You wish they’d stop. It’s making you uncomfortable, not to mention highly suspicious of their motives. You’ve contemplated biting more than one of them. And why do you feel like you may be about to hurl? What delicious strangeness was it that you just licked off the floor?
Does that sound like fun to you? Because that’s pretty much what every party you host looks and feels like to your pet.
Most pets don’t like parties. So, when you host a party in your home, it’s best to leave your pet out of it. Avoid the risk that they’ll get sick from eating something they shouldn’t. Avoid the risk that they’ll bite someone, because you could be held liable for that, too. Most importantly, avoid traumatizing your poor pet.
Instead, prepare a closed-door area where your pet won’t be disturbed. Equip it with everything they’ll need for the evening, including food, water, toys, and a cozy place to cuddle up. White noise can be a welcome addition. And don’t forget to check on them every so often, so they know you haven’t forgotten about them.
Here at Covered, we want our customers to genuinely understand what their insurance does and doesn’t cover. Got questions? To talk with one of our expert insurance advisors, give us a call at (833) 487-2683 or send us a message.