Alcohol should be avoided by pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, people taking medication, people with reactions to alcohol due to disease, and, of course, anyone under 21. Factors that influence the effects of alcohol, in addition to the amount consumed, include weight, gender and overall health. The best rule is not to consume more than one drink (4 ounces of wine) per hour, regardless of size, gender or amount of food consumed.
Making sure your guests stay within limits and depart safely is part of being a good host. Here are some steps you can take to encourage a good atmosphere.
Plan activities and encourage everyone to participate, thereby preventing overconsumption by guests who might be restless or shy or who have little in common with other guests. Choose activities that allow guests to meet and mingle comfortably.
Serve plenty of food, especially dishes that are high in carbohydrates, which stay in the stomach longer, allowing the body to absorb alcohol at a slower rate. (You can resume counting carbs after the party!) Choose an assortment of pasta, cheese, meat, crackers and bread.
Use caution with foods high in salt. They increase thirst and encourage guests to overconsume. Remember to keep your buffet table well stocked throughout the entire party, keeping the salty foods away from where drinks are served.
Alcohol-free beverages should be available and openly visible.
Do not serve alcohol to at-risk guests.
Set limits on drinking, even if your guests insist that they can “hold their liquor” or that they haven’t had “that much.”
Designate someone you trust to act as bartender or hire a professional bartender.
Do not let guests make their own drinks.
Measure alcohol carefully to avoid serving strong drinks.
Use plenty of ice and non-carbonated mixers such as fruit juice (these help to slow alcohol absorption).
Do not use pitchers; serve only one drink at a time.
Set up the bar outside of the room where guests are socializing and mingling, so that they need to travel to get a drink when they want one.
Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends but continue to serve alcohol-free beverages and food. This allows guests additional time to mingle and time for you to observe behavior and make preparations for those who should not drive.
Encourage non-drinking guests to be “designated drivers.” For more information on this program, see MADD’s