15 practical tips

Keep a clear head.

Don’t drink too much! As the host, you’ll stay on top of the situation and avoid potential problems when you’re able to think clearly and react quickly.

Think ahead.

Have a plan for dealing with guests who drink too much. Before the party begins, ask someone reliable to help you keep things under control. If someone is drinking too much, strike up a conversation and offer the person something to eat and a non-alcoholic beverage. Never let children serve drinks and never let them out of your sight.

Get people home safely.

Find out what kind of transportation your guests will be using and make sure they can get home safely. Encourage the use of designated drivers and keep cash and telephone numbers on hand for taxis. Know who plans to drive after the party and serve them accordingly. Be prepared to take away the car keys
and put people up for the night, if it comes to that.

Measure up.

Serve standard drinks (see Standard drinks page). Don’t serve doubles or shots. Use a standard jigger for measuring. If it’s a big party, consider hiring a responsible-service-trained bartender.

Chow down.

Be sure to provide enough food. If you are not serving a meal, offer snacks that are high in protein and carbohydrates, or that have a high water content. Avoid serving salty, sweet or greasy foods, which make people thirstier. Alcohol is generally absorbed more quickly when people drink on an empty stomach. Conversely, it is absorbed more slowly when people eat while they are drinking.

Offer non-alcoholic options.

Always provide low-alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages. Drinking alcohol should never be seen as an obligation, and providing a variety of beverages shows respect for your guests.

Respect that no means no.

Never push drinks on anyone. If a guest refuses an alcoholic beverage, offer something non-alcoholic. And don’t force non-drinkers to make their choice public: serve non-alcoholic beverages in the same glasses that everyone is using.

Know when enough is enough.

If guests say “no more, thanks,” don’t insist. Hospitality is not about how many drinks you pour. A good host will never badger a guest about drinking.

Don’t rush it.

Wait for glasses to be empty and take your time before offering refills. This helps people keep track of how much they are drinking.

Keep the water coming.

Make sure water is readily available and do keep water glasses filled. Drinking a glass of water after every alcoholic drink is a good way to avoid dehydration.

Beware the fizz.

If you’re serving an alcoholic punch, don’t forget that a carbonated base accelerates the effects of alcohol. Alcohol is absorbed more quickly when it is combined with carbonated mixers.

Set out the tables.

Make sure there are enough tables and surfaces where people can put their drinks. People tend to drink more — and more quickly — when they have to hold their glasses all the time.

Don’t get too active.

Don’t plan any physical activity when you serve alcohol. People are generally more prone to injury or mishap after drinking.

Say no to drinking games.

Drinking games (in which the losers have to drink) promote excessive drinking over a short period of time and can lead to potentially fatal alcohol poisoning. Plan the kind of activities where alcohol is not the focus. That way, guests are less likely to fall back on alcohol to “loosen up.”

Plan the last call.

Never serve enough alcohol to get your guests drunk. Stop serving alcoholic drinks about an hour before the party ends. Bring out dessert and coffee or non-alcoholic beverages.

Hosting know-how