It is that time of year again when the alcohol ads are all colored with red and green,we dutifully stock up on alcohol beverages to be good hosts for our friends and ready ourselves for the biggest drinking night of the year: New Years Eve.
How did this happen? When did New Years Eve become a frat party? Other cultures celebrate the New Year with a communal feast with minimal drinking.
Can we celebrate the holidays without alcohol?
SAMHSA thinks we can and has offered guidelines on why and how to host safe holiday celebrations. First and foremost we are reminded that keeping our guests safe is the primary goal. The issue of drunk driving is addressed. We are reminded that every half hour, someone dies in a drunk driving related crash in this country. The safest way to insure that none of your guests drive drunk is to serve beverages other than alcohol.
Is this possible? The Texas Rangers celebrated a play-off victory a few years ago with ginger ale instead of champagne. They did this because one of the star outfielders was a self-described alcoholic in recovery and they wanted to include him in the celebration but not put him in an unsafe situation. From the videos it looks like the had a very good time despite the lack of alcohol.
SAMHSA further reminds us that 1 in 3 adults prefer a non-alcoholic drink. The implication is that the other 2/3 can adjust.
SAMHSA also suggests providing lots of good non-alcoholic drinks and lots of good food. If the focus is on the food, the music, and the conversation there won’t be as much of a place for alcohol. They also suggest not serving salty food as this makes people want to drink more.
If you are going to be serving alcohol at your gathering, some suggestions are:
Stop serving at least an hour before people are supposed to leave. This can help provide additional time for people’s bodies to process the alcohol in their systems.
Arrange for designated drivers or alternative means to travel home
Make sure whoever your bartender is that he or she does not overserve anyone.
SAMHSA actually provides a lengthy menu of non-alcoholic drink recipes, for those who want to pretend they are drinking alcohol but want to stay safe.
But why do we need alcohol to celebrate the Holidays? Did any of the three wise men bring the baby Jesus a 12 pack? Why not a party with lots of good food, lemonade, ice tea, soft drinks, music and maybe a round of Twister? Ok I know I am dating myself with this one but there are lots of good games adults can play and need adequate brain functioning to play.
Why not try an alcohol-free holiday celebration this year? You might actually enjoy yourself, remember what you did and not need the next day to recover.