Big Reminder: The Holiday Party Edition

If you work in an office setting, chances are the annual holiday bash is rapidly approaching. It’s a time to let your hair down, relax a bit with the people you spend more time with than your family, and see whether the big bosses can take the legendarily lethal punch the folks in accounts receivable make.

If you don’t work in an office setting, chances are you still have at least one good friend or family member who considers the winter holiday season a darn good excuse to throw a big bash. It’s a time to catch up with those people you only see at these parties, nibble from the annual cheese ball, and see who succumbs to the lethal punch the host makes.

I well remember my parents’ annual Christmas do. The decorations, the careful choosing of which music to play in what order, the platters of fabulous food… and my fathers’ lethal eggnog which I swear could induce alcohol poisoning from six feet away.

I’ve been to a lot of parties for a lot of holidays over the years, and the one thing that seems absolutely guaranteed at each of them is seriously free-flowing liquor. Either there’s a single punch that will begin impairing your ability to pass a sobriety test before you even begin to drink it, or there’s a bewildering variety  of adult beverages and a genial host urging you to try a bit of everything.

How to get through the season with your driving record clean and your social network intact? Thinking just a bit beforehand can be just the ticket to keep you from disaster.

Know your limits. The simple fact is that we all have different limits. What yours is will depend on a number of factors, including: your weight, your history with alcohol, your individual metabolism, how much you eat… a lot of things. Pay attention to how you feel when you drink. For some of us one beer will be enough to make getting behind the wheel of a car a risky proposition, while another might still be okay after a lot more… provided the other circumstances are right, too. Don’t try to prove you’re less of a lightweight than you actually are.

Never drink on an empty stomach. And if you’re going to drink more, don’t stop eating. No, this is not advising everyone to gorge themselves all night long. But it’s a well-documented fact that liquor hits a lot harder on a system that has nothing else to chew on, as it were. Food helps slightly mitigate the effects of alcohol, so have a couple nibbles before you have a cocktail. And then eat again shortly.

Don’t mix your drinks. That’s not to say never have a mixed drink, of course. Just if you start with wine, don’t move on to hard liquor. And if you start with martinis, don’t switch to a different cocktail. Sticking to one drink makes it a little easier to discern when you’ve had enough, and when having more is a bad idea. The one exception to this rule is that it’s okay to mix it up a bit with something non-alcoholic. There’s no shame in club soda.

Have a designated driver. This is a great idea. As long as there’s more than one person in the car, have one of them stick to the apple cider and club soda end of the scale, so everyone knows there’s someone safe to drive. Just remember that if you use the fact you’re not driving as an excuse to get blotto in public, you’d better be prepared to be the cautionary tale until someone else embarrasses themselves worse at another party. The guy who came to our family Christmas party when I was fourteen, had too much of Dad’s eggnog and started eating the styrofoam popcorn strings? Yeah, we still remember him, even though he never came to another one of our parties. People who were there still shake their heads.

If you see someone about to leave who has clearly had too much to drink, get the car keys away from them. You don’t want the accident they get into on your conscience, do you? Drunk driving causes too many deaths every year. And if it was your party, in some areas you can be held legally responsible if someone leaves tanked and gets into an accident.

There are a lot of great reasons to celebrate this time of year. And everyone should have a great time celebrating. Just remember not to be the one suffering the repercussions of poor judgment with booze. Besides, isn’t it better to be the one who kept a level enough head to know where all the bodies are buried?

Why yes, yes it is.

3 Responses to “Big Reminder: The Holiday Party Edition”

  1. Tovah December 11, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this. It needs to be said and needs to be followed. Great advice!

  2. cadpig December 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    Easier… TAKE.A.CAB! You don’t have to worry about anything then and you have the added bonus of not having to drive around and around, crinkling your dress and chewing off your 30 minute lips trying to find parking spot when you arrive fashionably late!

  3. ZaftigWendy December 11, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    Even safer than “how you feel” is to follow the one hour rule. It takes approximately 1 hour for most people to metabolize one alcoholic drink, so if you have one beer at 7, you can have the next at 8. It doesn’t matter what the drink is, either. One glass of wine per hour, one mixed drink (as long as it has only one shot of liquor) per hour. You can safely metabolize that and not feel deprived, and you can still drive home that night.