Holiday Parties Without The Booze: A Survival Guide For Guests and Hosts
With the holiday season upon us the annual holiday party circuit inevitably arrives right along with it. For many of us this means a time of celebration and connection with friends, family, and colleagues while sharing in good food and drink.
But for people with dietary restrictions, and in particular those who do not drink alcohol, this can be a difficult time of year. Whether people choose to abstain for health, religious, or other personal reasons being surrounded by alcohol can be challenging when attending holiday parties. This challenge also extends to party hosts who want to provide a safe, inclusive and enjoyable experience for all their guests. As someone who gave up alcohol several years ago I have witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly of holiday parties when it comes to alcohol.
To make sure your experience, as a guest or host, is firmly in the good category try incorporating some of these tips into your own holiday survival guide:
For the guest:
Communicate with the host
This can be an easy task when it’s a close friend or family member but can be trickier with a more distant acquaintance or in a corporate environment. Most hosts will happily make accommodations and are likely just unaware of your dietary restriction. It’s also a good opportunity to ask the host if you can bring anything.
BYO (Bring your own)
Whether your drink of choice is coconut water, a craft soda, or non-alcoholic beer the host may well be unfamiliar with it and you can help them by making an informed selection and bringing it. You may even save them from embarrassment for not having something for you apart from water, juice or milk. Did someone say kiddie table? Make sure you bring more than what you need as it’s virtually guaranteed that there will be more people than just you that would like to try.
Hold a plate
Holding a plate and eating appetizers can be a great replacement for holding a drink. This simple act can be incredibly effective for those who feel comforted by having something in their hand while participating in social situations.
For the host:
Expect dietary restrictions
In this day and age hosts should expect to have guests with dietary restrictions. This could include those with diabetes, celiac disease, allergies, abstainers from alcohol as well as vegans and vegetarians. Add halal and kosher diets to this and it becomes almost a certainty that one or more guests will have a dietary restriction. Take the simple step of including a note to contact the host with any dietary restrictions on an invitation and you will be ahead of the game.
Know how your guests are getting home
Holiday parties are unfortunately linked to overconsumption of alcohol. It pays to know your guests and how they plan to leave your party. Keep a keen eye on those who plan to drive. Non-alcoholic beverage choices and alternative forms of transportation are great choices to help get your guests home safely.
Serve adequate food for the amount of drink
Good food is a hallmark of holiday parties. Having adequate amounts of food on hand helps guests pace their drinking and provides a comfortable substitute for those who may not imbibe while socializing.
Serve cocktails that can be made alcohol-free
Cocktails have enjoyed a revival in recent years – call it the Mad Men affect. But alcohol-free versions of many popular tipples have seen increased acceptance at cocktail bars and home settings alike. If cocktails are on offer choose ones that can be made alcohol-free too.