Holding a Christmas Carols Event

Tips for a Safe and Happy Festive Season

Christmas carol nights are usually considered to be joyful family-oriented events, designed to celebrate the festive season and the birth of Jesus.

While no one would want to detract from the celebratory mood of the event, things can still go wrong on a carols night. This means if your church is planning a carols event it’s essential to develop a comprehensive risk-management plan.

Risk-management involves considering what could happen, the likelihood of it happening, who could be harmed and what you should do to reduce or eliminate the risk.

Here’s a list of things to consider in developing a risk plan for your carols event.

Numbers of attendees and insurance

If your event is going to be held away from your premises, you will need to advise your insurer if the numbers of attendees will be more than 500.

You should in any case ensure that your public liability insurance cover is up-to-date, or buy a specific policy to cover the event.

Candle safety

Many people might not be aware that candles can (and sometimes do) cause serious fires. According to the CFA fires can occur from candles when they tip over or are left unattended.

If you are going to have candles on the night, make sure they come with proper non-flammable holders and are used safely. On the other hand you might want to consider a flame-free alternative – such as battery-operated candles, handheld LEDs or glow sticks.


You should check with your local council regarding any permits required to hold your event, especially if it will be held at a local park or other outdoor arena.

If you intend on having a fireworks display, you will need to notify your insurer about this. You may also need several permits – such as include a special permit to discharge fireworks, a permit from your council, and possibly a WorkSafe permit.

Other things to consider here include an exclusion zone and fire safety and equipment.

Lighting safety

If your event will be held after dark, you will need to ensure that there is good lighting in place to help prevent accidents from poor visibility such as slips, trips and falls.


It’s important that your volunteers are very visible at the event. This can be done by providing them with an ID tag and a uniform or reflective clothing to distinguish them from the general public.

Also ensure that your volunteers have all the required workplace checks in place and are fully-trained in their roles.


First-aiders are recommended as they can provide first-level care if someone falls ill or suffers an accident. If you do appoint a first-aider for your event, make sure he or she holds a nationally-recognised and up-to-date qualification.

Music Copyright

According to the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA), carols that are in the public domain (such as old traditional Christmas songs) can have their words copied or transcribed onto handouts or presentations without permission.

If you wish to distribute or display songs still under copyright, you will need permission from publisher or owner.

A full list of carols and their copyright status is available for download from here.


If your event is a fundraiser, you will need to consider how to keep any cash collected secure. It’s also a wise move to think about how to reduce the amount of cash being held by stalls, volunteers and so on.

Food safety

If there is going to be food served at your event, you will need to be mindful of food safety practices and regulations to avoid food poisoning. You can find out more on Victoria’s food safety laws here.


As a family-friendly occasion, a carol event is usually an alcohol-free zone. In that case you will need to ensure that this is made clear to attendees, and that a plan is put in place to enforce the rules.

If alcohol is permitted at events, insurers need to be made aware of this as it considerably increases the risk level.

Jumping castles

Jumping castles can make for a fun event for children. If you own a jumping castle or plan on hiring one, make sure it complies with Australian safety standards. You also need to ensure it is properly anchored and continually attended to on the day.

Other matters

Some of the other things to consider include toilet facilities, provision of drinking water (especially during hot weather), crowd control, traffic management, evacuation planning, and providing a central ‘reporting station’. Safety of your workers and volunteers in setting up and managing the event is of course also of paramount importance.

Start preparing now

There is certainly a lot to think about when it comes to planning a carols night! If you are intending to hold one this year – now is the time to start planning your special event.

The more prepared you are, the more you can relax and enjoy the festivities when the day (or night) arrives!

Tess Oliver