Hosting a safe holiday party

Hosting a safe holiday party

By The Health Promotion Team,

Have you considered reducing alcohol at your party? Seriously, hear us out… 

It is the season to celebrate with friends, family, and coworkers. Traditionally, that means copious amounts of alcohol. But it seems the culture has been starting to shift. We are seeing more events geared towards the sober curious. This trend began even before Canada’s new alcohol guidelines came out. These guidelines provide awareness to Canadians to consider the adverse health risks at each increment of alcohol use. Some people are seeking to “denormalize” the traditional drinking culture for a variety of personal and social reasons.

What we know is that to change a health behavior, you must find something to replace it. This is different for everyone. Some folks just don’t need to have alcohol at all to enjoy a social event. Others struggle with what to do with their hands or physical presence when alcohol isn’t involved. It can feel unnatural or uncomfortable. Removing alcohol would be the easiest solution to reducing alcohol-related harms, but for some, abstinence may not be the way they want to enjoy their holidays. If we choose to still have alcohol included in our celebrations, how can we do it safely?

Hosting events that are conscientious and intentional at reducing the focus on alcohol is a big step in the right direction. It doesn’t mean your party has to be 100 percent dry, but even making simple small changes in how alcohol is represented at your party can keep things safe and enjoyable for all, especially those who may be trying to reduce use in a not-so-public way.

Let’s see how we can keep parties safe as it would apply to our four pillars of health.

Alcohol and Drug Awareness:

  • Know the signs of alcohol poisoning: CUPS (Cold and sweaty skin, Unconscious, Puking, Slow/irregular breathing) and be sure to put people in the Recovery position if showing these signs.
  • Be aware and mindful of guests mixing alcohol and other drugs.


  • Have food available and encourage eating before and during drinking.
  • Include non-alcoholic beverages in your party plan.
  • Place food and water throughout your entertainment space to encourage snacking.
  • Snacks that include a mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates are best, and be mindful of overdoing it on salty snacks that may encourage more drinking.

Social and Mental Wellbeing:

  • Include activities and entertainment that are fun and engaging to shift the focus away from the alcohol and drinking games.
  • Include a variety of activities that your guests can engage in based on their interests and include something in every room of your entertaining space.
  • Monitor your own use as host.

Injury Reduction:

  • Store alcohol and cannabis safely to prevent unintentional poisoning of children and pets.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol at social gatherings to prevent over consumption.
  • Have a plan to get guests home safe or accommodate guests staying over.

Maybe these are things we have implemented in our parties all along, or maybe there are a few ideas we could put in place this season. Either way, please be sure to enjoy responsibly!