How to Serve Alcohol Without Your Guests Getting Drunk

It has become widely accepted that parties involving adults will also involve alcohol. However, there are many reasons that this might not make sense - you and/or some of your guests may be in recovery from an alcohol or drug problem, and being around others who are drinking could be a trigger to relapse. Then there are social reasons to consider as well.

Although people often associate alcohol with fun, it can lead to inappropriate language and behavior, damage to property, and even violence.

Finally, there may be cultural reasons for why you and/or some of your guests don't want alcohol around.


Tips for Serving Alcohol Without Your Guests Getting Drunk

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While you might like to serve alcohol at home, you probably want to avoid your guests getting drunk. After all, if your guests get drunk what you intended to be a dinner party may very well end up a slumber party if your guests are too intoxicated to leave. Here are some useful tips on how to avoid unwanted intoxication.


Provide Good Non-Alcoholic Options

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Give your guests something to drink other than wine or tap water. Many people would be happy to drink non-alcoholic or low-alcohol drinks if these options were available. Make sure you have a selection of chilled still and sparkling water, a variety of fruit juices and soft drinks, and non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beer, white wine and red wine.

Put some thought into the alcoholic drinks you serve as well. There is a great range of strength in the wines and beers out there, so choose those that have the lowest percentage of alcohol.

If you have liquor in the house, such as whiskey, brandy or vodka, keep it locked away so that your guests don't accidentally -- or deliberately -- drink these. If they do, your guests will get intoxicated in a short space of time and may even ​vomit on your furniture, carpet or lawn if they drink liquor too quickly.


Serve Your Guests and Put Bottles Away

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Do not put out bottles or pitchers for your guests to serve themselves drinks. Serve the drinks yourself -- if necessary, make a big deal of being a good host or hostess -- at timed intervals, with top-ups no more than every 30 minutes for alcoholic drinks.

Wrapping a white linen cloth around the bottle makes your role of server more credible, and sets the tone for you being in charge of the drinks. Offer non-alcoholic drinks more frequently if you wish. Put bottles in the fridge or cabinet to avoid guests helping themselves.


Serve Food

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Even if you don't want to serve a meal, make sure your guests have snacks to nibble on. If they are hungry and there is no food available, they are more likely to drink to curb their appetites and digesting food slows down the absorption of alcohol. If you are serving a meal, serve your guests an appetizer or put out some freshly baked bread before serving any alcohol.

Choose the food you serve wisely. Your two goals in selecting foods are to slow down alcohol absorption and to slow down the rate at which your guests are drinking. Foods that are relatively high in fat, such as pate, creamy dips, cheese and crackers, will slow down the absorption of alcohol more than lower fat snacks such as fruit, which, despite their good health record, won't do as good a job on their own. But as fruit contains more water than many foods, it will help to prevent your guest from getting thirsty.

You should take particular care to avoid salty foods, such as salted potato chips and salted nuts, which will make your guests thirsty and more likely to drink quickly, one reason they are always available in bars and pubs. Unsalted chips or nuts are fine, particularly when combined with fruit or a low-sodium dip, such as guacamole (hold the salt) to offset the dryness.


Choose a Narrow Based Wine Glass

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This is the perfect shape of glass in which to serve alcohol. With its narrow stem, gradually widening, but only by a little, it holds less liquid than it appears to. It will give your guests small servings and encourage them to sip their wine slowly.


Avoid Wide Based Glasses for Wine, But Use Them for Non-Alcoholic Drinks

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This wide based wine glass is one of the worst designs for serving alcoholic drinks, such as wine. It holds more liquid than it appears to, and the bulbous shape requires the drinker to tip the glass right back, encouraging gulping rather than sipping. A great choice for serving water, juice or non-alcoholic wine, but avoid using it to serve the strong stuff.


Choose a Narrow, Thick Based, Half-Pint Glass for Serving Beer

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This is a great choice of beer glass. It should hold a half pint or 250 ml at most. It has a thick base which takes up room otherwise taken up by beer, and you should leave a generous margin at the top for the head, again, reducing the overall amount of beer in the glass.

When pouring, trickle the beer down the side of the glass, rather than pouring it straight in -- this will preserve the gas in the beer, increasing the space taken up in the glass by the drink and making the drinker sip more slowly than they would with flat beer.


Avoid a Heavy, Rounded or Straight Sided Beer Jug

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This is the worst type of glass in which to serve beer, particularly if it is designed to hold a pint. The base is very thin, so there is nothing taking up room from the drink itself.

The shape is rounded outwards, so it holds even more than it appears to. And these jugs are so heavy that they encourage the drinker to empty them quickly if just to give their arm a rest. This is particularly the case if your party guests will be standing.

All in all, this is a terrible choice for serving alcoholic drinks.


Set an End Time for Your Party

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We are used to seeing start times for parties, but rarely end times. Instead of the usual "8-til-late," specify when you plan for your party to end. This will allow you to estimate the number of drinks you can serve throughout the course of the evening without anyone getting drunk.

Consult materials on blood alcohol content and calculate the timing of your party, and the number of drinks to be served, accordingly.


Make Sure No-One Drives Home After Drinking

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As you have been keeping tabs on who has and has not been drinking, you are in a good position to know who is safe to drive home. Remember, even a single drink with dinner increases their chance of having an accident.

Have taxi phone numbers at the ready for those who drove to your place, had a drink while they were there and need to get home. If you know there will be people attending who depend on public transit to get home, make sure your end time is set in time for them to get the last bus or train home.

For those unable to pay for a taxi, who have missed the last bus home, be prepared to offer a spare room, couch or floor space for the night rather than letting them drink and drive.

Enjoy Your Party!

Just because you and your friends stay sober doesn't mean your party can't be fun! Enjoy good music, good food, and good company, and you will forget all about alcohol.

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