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Responsible Hosting

There’s a lot to think about when hosting a party, dinner or gathering with friends, and you’re serving alcohol or have asked people to BYOB. Make sure your guests have fun and get home safely.

We’ve put together some tips so you and your guests can enjoy responsibly and return home safely.

Alcohol often marks points of ritual and celebration in our lives, but monitoring alcohol consumption is an important part of drinking and hosting.

There are many factors that influence the effects of alcohol, in addition to the amount consumed, including weight, gender and overall health. 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. If you choose to consume alcohol, do it responsibly. The best rule is not to consume more than one standard drink per hour, regardless of size, gender or amount of food consumed. A standard serving of alcohol is 4 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol) or 1 ½ ounces of 80 proof liquor.

Tips for Hosts

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, safe atmosphere.

  • Prevent overconsumption by planning activities that encourage guests to mingle and meet comfortably.
  • Serve food throughout the party. Consider 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 when serving salty food that might increase your guests’ thirst and lead to overconsumption.
  • Alcohol-free beverages should be available and visible.
  • Do not serve alcohol to at-risk guests, and never serve alcohol to minors. Serving alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age can have civil and criminal liability consequences.
  • Set limits on drinking, even if your guests insist they can “hold their liquor” or that they haven't had “that much.” Also, moderate your own consumption so you can conscientiously monitor guests' sobriety levels.
  • Do not let guests make their own drinks; designate someone you trust to act as a bartender or hire a professional bartender.
  • Measure alcohol carefully to avoid serving strong drinks.
  • Use plenty of ice and non-carbonated mixers such as fruit juice, as 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 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 plans for those who should not drive.
  • Encourage non-drinking guests to be designated drivers.
  • If you encounter a guest who has had too much to drink or is too tired to drive, offer an option to stay the night, call a cab or ride share for the guest or have a designated driver on-hand to provide rides.

Tips for Parents

Most Pennsylvania parents believe it’s their responsibility to talk with their kids about the dangers and risks of alcohol, but many are unsure how to start. Visit to understand how to take advantage of age-appropriate conversations and grow with children as they mature. Learn from scenarios and resources to get started with your children.


For more information on alcohol education programs and how to be socially responsible, click here.