News from the Noteworthy
Celebrate Safely, Responsibly
This Holiday Season
The celebration season has begun! It is time for festivities, holy days, gatherings, traditions, family, parties, events and maybe a little football. With that, I wish a great big happy holidays to all who are reading this. I also hope for each of you a safe and joyful season. If you follow LEAF at all on Facebook (please do!), you will see that our theme for the month is, “Celebrate Safely!” We have been sharing tips and suggestions for making sure that everyone has a good time and gets home without incident.
Here are the highlights for hosting an event:
Let’s start with this: It is always okay to celebrate without alcohol! We are fully aware that our culture nearly demands that alcohol be present at any gathering. However, gatherings without alcohol tend to be less expensive (and who’s not trying to save a buck these days?) and less prone to a spirits-infused incident. It’s a win-win, so it is worth consideration.
If you do serve alcohol, it’s a good idea to have a fun, festive drink option for those who choose not to drink. Make it just as attractive to have a fizzy, decorative juice or soda as it is to have any other mixed drink. You can find great ideas for festive non-alcoholic drinks simply by googling “holiday mocktails.” I mean, how yummy does a “Candy Cane Mocktini” or a “Raspberry Crème Sparkler” sound?
Serving alcohol does come with responsibility, both legally and socially. If the choice is to have alcohol at a party you’re in charge of, openly encourage guests to have a plan for getting home. It needn’t be hush-hush because it is okay to be forthright about safety. Any guest who has more than one drink per hour (I’ll spare you the alcohol metabolism rate presentation here) is highly likely to have some sort of impairment. Even a very slight level of impairment it too much to drive a 3,000-pound hunk of metal down the road. Buzzed driving is impaired driving.
Consider limiting the amount of alcohol that is available at an event. There are many ways to do this that don’t have to be off-putting to guests. The first one is to just establish a cocktail hour prior to a meal. Announce a “last call cocktails” right before serving the meal and, after that, offer punch, soda, tea, and coffee for the rest of the evening. This gives all of your guests a significant amount of time between their last drink and the trip home. It is absolutely okay to plan an event the way you want it planned and no explanation is necessary.
A second option would be to only offer beverages with a lower percentage of alcohol (a non-fortified wine, regular/lite beer or a low-alcohol punch). Choosing the drinks that are served, rather than having an open bar, lends the host a great deal of flexibility, creativity and budget management. Like the above strategy, it’s okay to buy a limited quantity for the event. A lower overall percentage of alcohol plus a finite supply can reduce impairment without the host having to feel like a grinch.
December is Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Celebrate often with friends, loved ones and colleagues! Let’s just make sure that safety is at the top of any celebratory checklist, which can make for a much more festive season!
Peace and joy to you all.
Julie Dostal is executive director of the LEAF Council on Alcoholism & Addictions, Oneonta.
Great tips here, and I agree! serving and drinking alcohol truly do come with responsibility. If you do choose to drink alcohol during the holidays, then your best bet is to call a cab or ask someone else for a ride.