The winter holidays are a time to enjoy the company of family, friends and coworkers. Whether planning a dinner, informal gathering, or holiday party, your job as host is very important. 

Your many responsibilities include planning the menu, entertainment, gifts and games. However, some of the most crucial details can be overlooked in all the frenzy. Perhaps your most important responsibility as host for a gathering where alcohol is involved is to take steps to ensure your guests’ safety both during and after the celebration. Drinking and driving is an all-too-familiar and tragic combination. More people are on the road, and some are consuming alcohol as part of their holiday celebrations. Additionally, providing alcohol to underage youth is illegal, but unfortunately some parents or other family members provide alcohol to underage youth during holiday  gatherings.

Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center offers several helpful tips to keep your holidays safe, legal,and fun this season. 

First and foremost, recruit people ahead of time to stay sober, who can ensure your guests make it home safely. Avoid making alcohol the main focus of social events. Instead, entertain guests with music, dancing, and games. This is a great opportunity for adults to be role models for kids, showing that alcohol consumption is not needed to enjoy a good time. 

As a host, provide a wide arrange of drinks, including non-alcoholic beverages. If alcohol is present, make a clear and firm rule that underage drinking will not be allowed in your home. Make sure there are plenty of food choices available; foods high in protein like meat and cheese are great choices, because they slow down the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream. Toward the end of the event, stop serving alcohol. Instead, choose this time to serve desserts, coffee, and non-alcoholic drinks.

Lastly, your most important responsibility of the night is making sure everyone has a safe ride home. Enlist the help of the sober drivers you recruited before the event. Have their phone number on hand in case you need it. If there are no reasonable options for a safe ride home, always be prepared for guests to stay the night in your home. If a person insists on driving despite his or her obvious intoxication, take the keys, ask for help from other guests, or temporarily disable the car. If all else fails, tell them you will call the police (and do so).

Following these simple guidelines will ensure your holiday event is both fun and safe. Staff at Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center wish you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!

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