8 Ways to Prevent Drunken Guests at Parties – Part 1

In the past month I received two inquiries on how to handle staff members who become drunk at company events, and how to handle guests who get inebriated. These inquiries led me to writing this month’s tip.

In my mind “it takes two to tango.” As the host, you should do all you can to prevent guests from over-indulging.  As a guest, it is your responsibility not to get drunk. This month, Part 1 of a two-part series discusses how to prevent guests from getting inebriated. In our next issue, Part 2 will discuss “8 Ways to Stay Sober at Social Events” and prevent being called “a drunk.”  See http://www.advancedetiquette.com/2010/09/8-ways-to-stay-sober/

1. Provide ample food throughout the event. Have plenty of appetizers during the reception, followed by a hearty meal. If the event lasts more than an hour after the meal, put out extra nibbles to continue filling guests’ stomachs to soak up the alcohol. By “food,” I don’t mean salty snacks such as bowls of peanuts and pretzels. A nice meat and cheese platter with fresh vegetables and fruits is best.

2. Serve non-alcoholic drinks. For events such as weddings and dances where guests are at their tables for a long period, have plenty of water pitchers on the tables throughout the event. Create a specialty non-alcoholic drink or punch that will have a choice of having no alcohol or some alcohol in it.  This way you can control the amount of liquor in the punch and no one will know if someone is a non-drinker.

3. Limit the time alcohol is served. One of the best ways to help control the amount of alcohol consumed is to limit the overall time alcohol is served. Here are some tips:

— Close the bar during the meal service and serve only wine. Either have it poured by servers or have a limited number of bottles of wine on each table. Typically one bottle of white and red wine is placed at each table. When asked for more bottles, instruct waiters to say they are only allowed to serve at most three bottles per table.

— For shorter receptions where a presentation takes place, close the bar during the presentation time. Have a sign posted at the bar that reads: “This bar will be closed during the event presentation.” This helps to ease disappointed guests.

— At a truly elegant affair, announce the bar will be reopened after dinner for an additional 30 minutes for after-dinner drinks. Have a coffee station set up for additional coffee before the event ends. When the 30 minutes are up, announce last call and the event closing time.

4. Limit the variety of alcohol served. Having a fully-stocked bar invites trouble by those who love trying one of everything. Limit the choices to only one or two specialty drinks, or have a limited number of liquors, such as vodka and bourbon.

For a unique and elegant touch, have bartender stations that only serve soft drinks, juices and water.  For wine and other alcohol, have wine pourers and cocktail servers to take drink orders… well brands only.

5. Have a last call. For dances and other longer entertainment events, make an announcement that the bar will close 30 minutes before the event ends. This also helps to end the event on time. Having coffee stations available after dinner until the end of the event is a nice touch. [More about coffee and its true affects in next month’s newsletter.]

6. Issue drink tickets. For some events, it’s acceptable to issue two drink tickets per person, allowing guests to purchase additional drinks on their own.

7.  Use smaller glasses: Instead of serving drinks in large 8+ ounce glassware, use ones that only hold a maximum of 6 ounces so when you fill them to three-quarters full, even less alcohol will be served in each drink.

8. Designate a Guest Monitor, Drunk Monitor, or Event Watchdog. Whatever you choose to name this person, it is their job to keep a watchful eye over all guests to monitor their alcohol consumption. For weddings, choose someone close to the bride and groom, perhaps a relative or close friend of some authoritativeness, but not someone within the wedding party. They should relax and enjoy. For corporate events, choose someone of authority who will be well respected when the tough decisions need to be made.

If this person is you, your duties include:

— Introduce yourself to the banquet manager, bartenders, and waiters at the event. They will be great extra eyes and ears.

— Make sure the entire event team knows who you are so they can find you when a situation arises.

— Find one or two friends willing to help be designated drivers to the hotel, or home, as needed.

— Have on hand the telephone number to the local taxicab company.

— Jot down all nearby hotels, motels, and other places where a guest can choose to stay the night… their rates and whether they will accept last-minute reservations the night of your event.

— When a guest is attending alone, accompany the guest to the hotel by driving the guest’s car. You may need a friend to follow to drive you back.

— When a guest show signs of being drunk and becoming a troublemaker, intervene as quickly as possible. Do not discuss the situation in front of others in the event room. Take the guest (and a sober companion/witness) to a quiet area away from the event to discuss the situation.

— For home parties, have arrangements set for guests to stay over in a guest room, sofa, blow-up bed, or neighbors home, within walking distance.

BONUS:  Providing for your own committee members. To prevent co-hosts and attending staff from becoming inebriated and from hovering over the food tables during the time they should be mingling with guests, invite them to arrive at the event 30 minutes ahead of time.  Announce it as the time important final details for the event will be shared and a time they can enjoy some food ahead of guests arriving. You will not, however, open the bar until the event begins.  Make it clear that during the event, their primary focus should be on meeting and greeting guests, not on stuffing their faces and drinking too much.  The results:  Staff members show up on time, they get their stomachs filled; and everyone receives valuable last-minute information.

Question of the Month: What else have you done or experienced at events to help prevent guests from becoming inebriated?  I’d love to hear from you.  Insert your comments in the area below.

Happy Practicing!



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