Tips for Hosting Safe and Successful Holiday Parties

The Holiday season is a time of peaceful reflection. This often includes spending quality time with family, friends, and colleagues, whether at work parties or private residences. However, there are a number of possible hazards that go along with holiday festivities, including alcohol consumption and winter weather. Unfortunately, these hazards can sometimes lead to injuries and legal consequences if not properly prepared for.

If you are planning on hosting a holiday get together this year in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, or Newfoundland, where the weather around the holidays can be notoriously wintry, there are some important tips to keep in mind when planning your holiday gathering.

In Nova Scotia, the Occupiers Liability Act requires anybody inviting guests into their premises to keep those premises reasonably safe from foreseeable hazards. This applies to commercial and residential premises alike. If you are hosting a party at your residence, be sure to clear all walkways and stairways of snow and ice by shoveling and/or salting.

Make sure to also have good lighting in possibly hazardous areas where slips or trips may happen, including walkways, driveways, and stairways (outdoor and indoor). Also be sure to clear walkways/stairways of any debris such as leaves or overgrown foliage. Slip and fall hazards take many shapes in Nova Scotia, so make sure any possible hazards are cleared before hosting a function.

Also, if alcohol will be served or consumed at your holiday party, it is important to know what the law expects of you a host. In a private residence, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and monitor your guests’ alcohol consumption, and certainly how much alcohol you may be providing to your guests. It is also important to keep track of who is driving and whether there are ride-sharing arrangements. Make sure to have soft drinks available and try to also serve food if alcohol is being served.

Most importantly, a party host should always try to limit the possibility of any intoxicated guest operating a motor vehicle. Failure to follow these steps may result in what’s called “social host liability.” For more on social host liability, see the 2006 Supreme Court of Canada decision Childs v. Desormeaux.

Moreover, a party host must be cautious about how alcohol is served in their premises. There are provincial statutes in Nova Scotia such as the Liquor Control Act that mandate heavy penalties for the improper sale of liquor or providing alcohol to persons under the age of majority. These penalties include hefty fines and in certain instances, jail time.

Ultimately, the holidays are all about peace and good cheer. Following these tips will help to make sure your holiday gathering is as peaceful and pleasant as possible. If you have any questions about a host’s responsibilities while hosting a holiday party in Nova Scotia, contact our experienced personal injury lawyers for a free consultation.


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