Simple Tips for Safe Holiday Hosting

Cari Lightner
Coping with Grief During the Holidays
November 20, 2023
National Passenger Safety Week: The Courage to Speak Up and Intervene
September 16, 2022

Simple Tips for Safe Holiday Hosting

In the past few years, articles about “safe” hosting during the holidays have focused mostly on preventing the spread of pathogens like COVID-19, Influenza, and RSV. Keeping your family safe from these communicable diseases is incredibly important, of course, but I urge the public not to forget about another killer that is rampant this time of year: impaired driving.

I have spent the past 40 plus years advocating for safe driving yet the problem continues and though we have made some positive progress the problem has worsened in the past few years. In 2021, 13,384 people died in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths — a 14% increase from 2020. These deaths were all preventable. (NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Association)

One of the most prevalent times drivers seem to disregard safe driving choices is during the holidays.  The name of the game seems to be celebrating. Whether it is celebrating your particular holiday, celebrating New Year’s or celebrating friends and family, it is party time. This is especially true now that the public perception of the  pandemic has waned, more families and friends are coming together for in-person holiday celebrations. This is a reason for joy, of course, but also a reason to be wary… more gatherings means more alcohol means more bad driving choices from selfish guests who choose to drive home intoxicated. However, as a host of a holiday party, you can make a difference. Your smart choices could prevent someone from making a bad one… and could save multiple lives.

Here are my tips for safe, responsible party hosting this holiday season:

  1. Prepare to remain sober yourself: Fetching snacks and cleaning spills aren’t your only tasks as a host. You are also responsible for the safety of your guests, which means not over-imbibing yourself. It’s much easier to notice when someone else is intoxicated when you as host are clear-headed. 
  2. Serve non-alcoholic drinks: Sometimes people drink more than they plan to simply because there are no other options. Stock the fridge with sodas, juices, or non-alcoholic beer, wine or mocktails and offer them freely – you’d be surprised how many delicious alcohol-free dupes there are these days! Of course, NEVER serve alcohol to minors. 
  3. Have plenty of food on hand: It’s proven that food can help counter the effects of alcohol, while drinking on an empty stomach can lead to blackouts that often result in people making unsafe decisions. Tacos, pizza, pasta or steak, studies have shown that all types of food (carbs, proteins, and fats) help the body process alcohol.
  4. Get out the air mattress: whether or not you have a guest bedroom, you should be prepared to allow guests to stay the night if they are intoxicated. Couch, air mattress, or sleeping bag, any accommodations are better than a jail cell for inebriated guests. If you don’t have room to house guests, offer to pay for a safe ride home.
  5. Have the Courage to Intervene: if you see an intoxicated guest (or even if they seem “okay” but you know they’ve been drinking), make sure you step in to stop them. Recruit another person to help you convince the impaired guest that they cannot drive. Offer them alternative transportation home or a safe place to sleep. Do whatever you can to prevent them getting behind the wheel. Their life, and the lives of others on the road, could depend on it. 
  6. Make sure they have a safe ride home. Whether it is a designated driver, taxis or a ride share with someone who doesn’t drive distracted, remind your party goers to make arrangements for sober transportation home. Volunteer to be a sober driver at someone else’s party. 
  7. Plan ahead to get keys. Prepare a basket or bowl where all of your guests can leave their keys. You are the only person who can retrieve the keys. This way, you can examine all of your guests before they leave.

 Serving Drinks

  • Don’t serve alcohol to minors. The legal drinking age is 21 and, as a host, it is your responsibility to make sure minors aren’t drinking.
  • Don’t force drinks on your guests. Also, don’t rush to refill their glasses when empty. Be a smart host; push the food, not the alcohol on your guests.
  • Stop serving alcohol one hour before the party ends. Serve only coffee, tea and non-alcoholic beverages as the party comes to a close. As the host or hostess, it is your responsibility to help your guests get home safely, so limit the amount of alcohol served toward the end of the party as guests prepare to leave or go home.

Ensuring and helping our loved ones make smart choices is essential this time of year, when 40% of traffic deaths involve alcohol (NHSTA). The holiday season is a time for celebration – but it’s also a time to protect and take care of those we care about – how will you show you care? 

Learn about more safe hosting tips, and help support the mission of We Save Lives on our website. We’re working to rid the world of drunk, drugged, and distracted driving – we hope you’ll join our mission. 

Candace Lighter, Founder
We Save Lives
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Author, “Giving Sorrow Words: How to Cope with Grief and Get On with Your Life.

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