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Keeping Party Drinking Under Control

It can be a holiday get-together, an invitation party, or a formal Christmas affair. It's fun. So what harm can a little drinking do? 

Drinking too much alcohol impairs judgment and can lead to actions that put your health in jeopardy, including driving while drunk, going out in subfreezing temperatures improperly dressed, or falling off a curb or down stairs.

Bear in mind that a standard-sized drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 shot of hard liquor in a mixed drink. More than this can put you at risk for intoxication. 

Drinking alcohol responsibly

The holidays can be enjoyed without drinking alcohol. But if you choose to drink, there are responsible ways to consume alcohol:

  • Set a safe limit for yourself before you start drinking.

  • Choose a designated driver—either someone who doesn’t drink alcohol or someone you can trust to stay sober.

  • Give your car keys to an impartial person who won't be drinking, and give him or her permission to keep the keys if you seem incapable of driving.

  • Prearrange a safe alternative to get home.

  • Don't drink on an empty stomach. Eat something before you start drinking alcohol. Eating something will slow alcohol's absorption rate. Remember that a full stomach will only slow the absorption, not reduce the total absorption. This will help slow down your intoxication but does not minimize the exposure to alcohol.

  • Don't drink when tired or taking medications.

Throwing a party

As a party host, you could be liable if a guest drives away drunk. In the case of an office party, the company is liable. Whoever serves alcohol has some legal responsibility for the actions of those who drink too much, even after they leave. There are many ways to throw a great party, yet protect yourself and your guests from harm:

  • Stay sober. The only way you can act responsibly is to preserve your own judgment.

  • If you plan to drink at your own party, hire a professional bartender who is trained to recognize intoxicated people and stop them from driving.

  • Serve nonalcoholic beer and wine and other nonalcoholic beverages, which are increasingly accepted alternatives to alcohol.

  • Offer appealing options to liquor. Concoct a special nonalcoholic holiday punch or eggnog.

  • Serve lots of unsalted food along with liquor. People busy eating won't drink as much. Avoid salty foods, which make people thirsty.

  • Never let guests mix their own drinks; you lose control of the quantity served.

  • Stop serving alcohol an hour before the party ends to give guests time to sober up. Save something fun, such as gift exchanges, until last to keep guests from leaving early, when they are more intoxicated.

  • Learn the signs of intoxication, which include slurred speech, aggressive or loud behavior, talkativeness, awkwardness, spilling drinks, fumbling, and unsteadiness while standing.

  • Do whatever is necessary to keep guests from driving drunk. Take away their keys. Make cab service available. Offer them a couch on which to sleep. Just don't let someone who is drunk get behind the wheel, no matter how much he or she protests.