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Summer is here and with it comes celebrations of all kinds such as beach days, barbeques and picnics with family and friends. In addition to good food and company, many of these festivities may include alcohol, so it’s important to remember that anyone who provides alcohol to people under the age of 21 can face criminal charges.

To make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time at your next gathering, here are some great alcohol-free celebration ideas:

  • A potluck or BBQ is a great option for those on a budget. Home cooking is affordable and provides an alternative to restaurants. Healthy eating ideas can be found here on the Mass Health Blog
  • You don’t need to limit costume parties to Halloween. Choose a specific era such as the 20s, or have friends surprise you by showing up as their favorite movie characters.
  • Now is the perfect time of year to organize a game of your favorite sport. Kickball, basketball, or baseball are all fun games for any age. For an even bigger event, invite family and friends to create several teams. Create tournament brackets for a mini “playoff”.
  • For the budding artists, host a gallery show in your house. Hang up their photos, drawings, or paintings, or play a group drawing game. One that we particularly like requires only 3 friends, 3 sheets of paper, and the drawing supplies of your choice. Fold your papers accordion style into three sections. Each person will draw the top third of a body connecting the outlines from each body part just over the next fold. Fold the top third over so only the middle section is visible, pass your paper to the person sitting next to you, and draw the next portion of the body. Repeat this process until you’ve completed your body and unfold to see who – or what! – you’ve created!
  • No one will miss alcohol when there is great food and tasty refreshments. Fruit juice, ice tea, or lemonade are great choices for the spring and summer. For a creative twist, try mixing fruit juice or lemonade with your favorite tea over ice.
  • If you or your family would like to avoid parties with alcohol but can’t host your own, your local adult education center may offer great one-day activities in cooking or studio art. Some also offer outdoor events such as hikes or historical tours. Keep an eye out in your local paper for free or discounted public events as well.

If your child is heading to a party on their own, take the time to talk with them about the risks of underage drinking. For resources on how you can start the conversation, visit

Written By:

intern with Bureau of Substance Abuse Services

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