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KatWhelton Posted by: Kathleen Whelton who works in the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services

The winter holidays are a great time to get together and celebrate with family and friends. Whether you are hosting a holiday party for a crowd or an intimate dinner party for a few close friends, as the host you have many decisions to make and details to remember. However, if you choose to serve alcohol, the most important thing to consider is how you are going to keep your guests safe both during and after the festivities. 


Consider the following tips as you get ready for the holiday season.

  • Avoid making alcohol the main focus of social events. Entertain guests with music, dancing, games, food, and lively conversation.
  • Offer plenty of nonalcoholic choices such as sparkling water, fancy juice drinks, soft drinks, and bottled water.
  • Provide guests with nutritious and appealing foods to slow the effects of alcohol. High protein and carbohydrate foods like cheese and meats are especially good. They stay in the stomach much longer, which slows the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol. Avoid salty foods, which encourage people to drink more.
  • At least 1 hour before the end of the event, stop serving alocohol and offer coffee, non-alcoholic beverages, and desserts.
  • Recruit people ahead of time who will not be drinking to help ensure that everyone has a safe ride home.
  • Be prepared to offer your guests alternate forms of transportation. Know what “safe ride” programs are available in your area, keep the phone numbers of several cab companies handy, and ask someone who was not drinking to drive a guest home. If these options aren’t available, offer your place to spend the night.

And remember, when it comes to underage drinking, the law is clear.  If you are 21 years old or older,  you may consume alcohol.  If you are not, it is against the law.  If you have a party, you may not provide, give, or allow any of your guests who are under 21 to have alcohol. To learn more about the Social Host Law in Massachusetts click here.

For more alcohol and drug free party planning tips click here for a free copy of SAMHSA’s guide, “Party Planning Tips for an Alcohol Safe and Drug Free Holiday Season to Remember.”

If you are concerned about a loved one’s alcohol use or are looking for support for your own or a loved one’s recovery visit or call 1-800-327-5050 (7 days; multi-lingual); TTY: 1-888-448-8621 for peer support services, confidential information, and referrals to counseling.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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