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Bar None

Today's holiday parties are drying up.

This story appears in the December 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

A generation ago, a business's recipe for a successful holiday party was simple: Stock up on plenty of alcohol, pour drinks freely, and be quick to overlook employees' inebriated mishaps. Still sound like a good formula? Forget it--today's company parties are very different affairs. "There are new rules for hosting parties," says Joseph West, chairman of the Department of Hospitality Administration in the College of Business at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee. "The big change is, there's a lot less emphasis on booze."

Prudishness didn't dictate this change--caution did. "Many companies have been held liable for actions of employees who became intoxicated at events sponsored by the business," says Michael Blickman, an attorney with Ice Miller Donadio & Ryan in Indianapolis.

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