How holiday hosts can avoid overserving guests

Hosts must acknowledge and accept various responsibilities when hosting a holiday party, not the least of which is making sure guests get home safe and sound.

By MCC

The 2021 holiday season could prove to be especially festive. After the COVID-19 pandemic forced families to tone down their holiday celebrations in 2020, the 2021 holiday season figures to feel more familiar. The rollout of a trio of effective vaccines has made gatherings more safe, and that should make for an especially jovial 2021 holiday season.

The image of a house full of family and friends no doubt excites individuals who love to host holiday gatherings. And coming off a year in which no such celebrations were held, it’s easy to see how hosts and their guests might be tempted to celebrate a bit too much. That could prove both dangerous and costly. Overconsumption of alcohol can affect guests’ judgment, both during the party and at the end of the night when it’s time to go home. In addition, host laws could put holiday hosts in the crosshairs of law enforcement if they overserve guests. Hosts who are determined to have violated host laws could be vulnerable to lawsuits if their guests get into trouble.

Hosts must acknowledge and accept various responsibilities when hosting a holiday party, not the least of which is making sure guests get home safe and sound. Hosts can consider these strategies to avoid overserving guests.

• Hire a professional bartender to serve drinks. The Insurance Information Institute notes that most professional bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are skilled at limiting consumption by partygoers. Hosts can benefit from that expertise and training if they hire professional bartenders to man the bar at their parties. Let guests know in advance that bartenders have been asked to monitor each guest’s consumption, and support the bartender should he or she refuse to serve a guest.

• Host outside your home. A large party at home may create a warm atmosphere, but it also can leave hosts liable in the eyes of the law. Hosting the party at a restaurant with a valid liquor license can minimize hosts’ liability risks. In addition, restaurants and bars tend to be very busy during the holiday season. That means it will likely take longer for guests to order and receive their drinks. Extra time between drinks can reduce the risk of overconsumption.

• Stay sober. Hosts can more effectively monitor how much their guests are drinking if they abstain from consuming alcohol. Guests who recognize hosts are not drinking also might be more agreeable if hosts ask them to stop for fear that they’re consuming too much alcohol.

• Shift the focus of the festivities. When planning the party and inviting guests, look for games and activities that engage guests and don’t promote drinking. Guests are less likely to drink too much if they’re given something to do at the party, especially if the activity has nothing to do with alcohol. Avoid games like beer pong in favor of charades or other activities that require guests to stay sharp.

• Stop serving alcohol as the party winds down. As the festivities begin to wind down, stop serving alcohol and offer water, coffee or tea in its stead. This decreases the chances that guests will overdo it and gives them a chance to assess how they feel and determine if they can drive home safely.

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