The Big Game: Being a Responsible Party Host
How to Be a Responsible Party Host
One of the great pleasures in life is throwing a great party with great people. But it is no fun if people end up hurt. While your guests are largely responsible for their safety,here are a few things that you can do to help ensure that.
Making Your Party Safe
Make sure your home is safe from trip, slip and fall hazards.You are used to that not-quite-even set of porch stairs, the wobbly railing, and sure footed as a goat on the icy walkway. However, your guests could end up hurting themselves if these things are not addressed. In the USA, you could unfortunately find yourself sued. Such safety issues include:
- Make sure stairs are safe, or guests do not have access to them.
- Fix anything that is not as it should be.
- Make sure that walking surfaces are reasonably safe. This is especially important for those with limited mobility, such as those on crutches or the elderly. For example, be sure that ice has salt and sand placed down for traction.
- Be sure to have adequate outdoor lighting.
- Be extremely careful with swimming pools. Drownings are more likely to occur when alcohol is served. Also, young children are sometimes not monitored as carefully when parents are distracted.
Know your pet.Many dogs and cats enjoy company, and thrive on all of the attention. But having so many strangers can make pets frightened and anxious. It may be better to confine an animal to a crate, a bedroom, or the garage until the festivities are over.
- If there will be small children, pets may get treated roughly.
- Do not allow people to feed pets "people food". It is not good for them. Even more so for alcoholic beverages - many dogs like the taste of beer but it is not good for them. Unfortunately, some people enjoy trying to make animals inebriated.
- Keep animals away from very loud noises. This includes loud music or fireworks. Your dog's hearing is much more sensitive than yours.
Make sure dangerous or deeply personal items are out of sight.This does not mean locking up the kitchen knives or taking down family photographs. But some things to consider:
- Make sure firearms or other weaponry (such are archery equipment) are secured.
- Medications should be discreetly put away. You may not want people to be able to easy see you are taking anti-depressives, or be able to steal your grandmother's painkillers.
- Make sure bathroom medicine cabinets have nothing embarrassing in them. People do open these, whether it is to look for a cotton swab or for snooping.
- Very valuable items. Unfortunately, sometimes people steal. It is unlikely your big-screen TV will be swiped during the party, but your grandfather's gold pocket-watch could be.
Monitoring Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is not a requirement.Do not feel that you have to provide alcohol, especially if this is against your beliefs or for your health.Although for many people, parties and alcohol are deeply partnered, this does not have to be so.
- Give party-goers a heads-up if your house is alcohol-free. Many people will bring drinks in the spirit of hospitality.
Do not get drunk yourself.If you are significantly impaired, you will not be able to effectively avoid or respond to hazardous situations. That may mean limiting your own alcohol consumption, or forgoing it.
Be sure guests have designated drivers.While this is the guest's responsibility,(you cannot demand a person be a designated driver), but making polite inquiries will make people consider the post-party strategy.
- For large parties, some people give designated drivers specific bands to indicate they are not supposed to be drinking. While this is not a fool-proof system it does make people make a promise that is visible. People will also avoid offering alcohol to such people.
- Consider having everyone turn their keys over. They would have to be sober to pick them up later. Either that, or everyone would agree to be staying the night with no driving. If so, make sure that there is a place for everyone to sleep (or pass out).
- Be aware of the increased personal liability that there will be for whomever is returning key. Be sure of the potential driver.
- Have a cab ride fund for whoever wants, or needs, one. They might need to get home, sooner than later. You're better off covering all your bases.
- Have the number handy for the cab service. If you think that there is a chance that you will be using their services, you might call them and give them a heads up.
Be cautious with teens and young adults at parties.In countries with legal drinking ages, you can be held criminally liable if your under-aged party-goer gets intoxicated at your party.
- If adults are drinking at a party, it is relatively easy for teenagers to sneak alcohol. So consider carefully if you will provide alcohol for adult guests at your teenager's "Sweet 16" party.
- For large teenage or young adult parties, be careful that you check the drinks regularly. Sometimes young party-goers will "spike" the drinks with alcohol such as vodka.
Make sure that your guests have non-alcoholic options.People sometimes feel pressured into drinking if it is clear that only alcohol is served at your party. Also, if people choose to drink, it is always a good idea to have other drinks to "pace" oneself and avoid a hangover. Ideas include:
- Water: not only bottled or ice water, but sparkling water or flavored waters.
- Soda. Many people enjoy soft drinks, whether popular brands, energy drinks, or even premium quality sodas or even homemade soda.
- Juices. You can offer plain juices, or offer sophisticated drinks like blood orange, pomegranate, or other "fancy" mixes.
- Coffee or tea. At dinner parties, offering coffee or tea at dessert is traditional.
Make sure that you provide food for your guests.Food will not stop a person from becoming intoxicated, but drinking on an empty stomach will get a person drunk very quickly. A party with only alcoholic beverages also send a subtle message that this is a drinking party.
Donotforce drinks on people.As a good host, you will want to make your guests feel that you are attending to them. But do not get insistent about constantly getting them drinks. Unintentionally, you could be sending the message that to please you, the guests must drink. Try instead:
- Let them know where beverages are located, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. That way, the guest can make his or her own decision with less pressure.
- If a person says "no thank you" leave it there. Do not insist.
Be able to recognize signs of intoxication.You will need to be able to recognize all phases of drunkenness. This includes:
- Slurred speech
- Impaired movement
- Marked difference in behavior, such as the normally person loudly singling karaoke off-key, or the boisterous friend sitting in a corner acting quiet and withdrawn.
Research Social Host Liability.
Be prepared to call the police, if necessary.This is generally a rare thing and should be a last resort. If that is what you have to do to stop a drunk driver, then do it.
Avoid having breathalyzer.For one thing, simply having one may raise uncomfortable questions about why you brought a breathalyzer to your own party. At drinking parties, such devices tend to become a tool in order to determine who is the most drunk; this is not conducive to responsible partying.
Addressing Health Needs
Provide a place for the smokers to smoke that is well away from the non-smokers.People with asthma and other health conditions should not be exposed to second hand smoke.
- You, as the host always have the option of not allowing any smoking on or around your premises. However, you may want to make this clear before the party.
- Smokers will usually be happy with an outdoor space such as a balcony, porch, front steps, or garden.
Try to offer items that all guests can enjoy.If you know your friends fairly well, you will likely know if people are vegetarian, or on a low-calorie diet, or allergic to peanuts.
- Label items. Make labels to sure your friends know which one is the vegetarian chili. An ingredient list can be helpful, too. You may not know a person has an allergy.
- Leave labels out. It allows the person to be able to make more informed decisions. It is easy to overlook ingredients, additives, and so on.
- If you have store-bought items, it can be a good idea to cut out the ingredient label and any allergen warnings and have it near the food items.
- For informal parties, having chip bags and drink bottles out allows people to easily look up this information
- Offer vegetable plates, fruits, low-fat dips, and low-calorie options. These are all normal party food items which allow those watching calorie intake to gracefully bypass the chips.
- Ask those with special food requirements what works for them. Not sure what to have for food for your co-worker who eats a Kosher diet? Or your friend who is gluten-free? Or your niece who is severely allergic to eggs? Sometimes all it takes is a quick e-mail or phone call. Sometimes such people are happy to bring a dish to share.
Video: The Safety Factor: Responsible Party Host
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