Posted on: December 29, 2022

How to Serve Alcohol Responsibly Over the Holidays

How to Serve Alcohol Responsibly Over the Holidays

With the holiday season upon us, many of us will be hosting or attending holiday parties. With that in mind, you have a responsibility to serve alcohol responsibly to ensure the safety of your guests. Follow these steps to keep your guests safe and prevent overservice:

  1. Request valid proof of identification from anyone who appears 35 years of age or younger. Guests who cannot present acceptable legal identification should not be served any alcohol. Remember "FEAR":
    • Feel – Check for tears, frays, or other damage.
    • Examine – For establishments, compare the ID with those listed in an ID Checking Guide. For private parties, be sure you know the age of your guests and ask for identification if you do not.
    • Ask – Ask questions to verify that the ID belongs to the individual (year of birth? year of high school graduation?) and look for signs of hesitation.
    • Return – Return the ID to the guest.
  2. Monitor and restrict access to the alcohol you provide:
    • Use standard-size glasses and measure the alcohol in mixed drinks.
    • Count drinks.
    • When serving a guest previously served by another person, check to find out how many drinks the guest has already been served.
  3. Offer soft drinks, fruit juices, bottled water, and coffee so your guests can access other beverage options and alternate their choices.
  4. Restrict guests to only one drink at a time. Discourage drinking games, shots, or rapid drinking.
  5. Offer appetizers, snacks, and other food to help slow down the absorption of alcohol. If you notice a guest showing intoxication, intervene by providing non-alcoholic beverages and food options.
  6. Look for Behavioral Cues [link to How to tell if someone is intoxicated blog] to determine if a guest is approaching intoxication or is already intoxicated:
    • Lowered Inhibitions – Talkativeness or loud behavior
    • Impaired Judgment – Inappropriate behavior or increased rate of drinking
    • Slowed Reactions – Slurred speech, glassy or unfocused eyes
    • Loss of Coordination – Stumbling or swaying.
  7. Make sure that anyone who is visibly intoxicated receives no more alcohol and is not left alone. Your liability risk as a host, server, or business owner increases exponentially if an alcohol-related incident occurs and you do not take action. This is important even if the guest is not driving; an impaired guest can be injured or may injure others in ways besides an automobile collision.
  8. Plan and be prepared to provide alternate transportation for impaired guests. Either gift an Uber or Lyft ride, ask groups who their designated driver is, or contact a taxi service to take the impaired guest home.

Don’t test the boundaries of what you can manage or what your guests can consume. Establish a plan, educate your staff, or have a partner at your event to back you up.

And don’t underestimate the value of alcohol education. TIPS training is valuable for social hosts, students, and service staff. TIPS training is also recognized by several states and may offer reduced penalties for alcohol violations.

Celebrate responsibly!