It’s that time of year again. The holidays are wonderful, but can produce some dicey situations for your HR Department.

The holidays mean a lot of things to different people: whether it’s playing dreidel, decorating a Christmas tree, or doing nothing at all. Employers need to be mindful of the variety of different beliefs held by their employees. A couple of holiday planning suggestions to help you navigate these holiday landmines include:

  1. Holiday parties should not be too religious. Most workplaces employ a diverse group of employees, not all of whom practice the same religion. In planning the holiday party, employers are advised to stay neutral. Employers should avoid overly religious symbols such as nativity scenes and menorahs. But streamers and balloons are okay.
  2. Holiday parties should not be mandatory. If attendance is required, an employee may try to claim the time spent at the party is time worked. Workers comp, overtime and minimum wage laws might then apply. Also, employees, who for religious reasons or otherwise, may have a legally protected right not to be compelled to celebrate a holiday.
  3. Be inclusive in planning the menu. Employees may have limitations in what they can eat for religious reasons, allergies or even lifestyle choice (like veganism). Remember the holiday party is meant to bring you joy, not complaints.
  4. Don’t overserve alcohol. An event can get out of hand quickly and result in injury, harassment and other complaints. If complaints do arise, be sure to address them immediately under your normal workplace policies. View my colleague Glenn Rissman’s previous post for tips on how to limit the consumption of alcohol at your party.

In short, holiday parties should be about bringing employees together and thanking them for all they do to contribute to your organization’s success.