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Responsible Partygiving

Humorous illustration of two penguins partying


This booklet was edited by Christine Willard-Waldo of the Employee Assistance Office, University of Wisconsin–Madison. It is designed to promote responsible party hosting by providing alternatives to alcoholic beverages as well as recipes for appetizers that are sure to make a hit at any party.

Some recipes were found at the American Heart Association and are marked as “AHA” . Visit the AHA for more information and recipes.

Still more recipes were found at Arielle’s Recipe Archives and are noted with “SDS” .

Kathleen Holt of the Employee Assistance Office also contributed recipes as noted.

Please remember: if work problems or personal situations are keeping you from enjoying your holidays to the fullest, we may be able to help. You can contact the Employee Assistance Office by calling 263-2987.

Some Guidelines

Illustration of a couple sharing a drink together
  1. Provide a relaxed environment for guests such as soft lights, music and comfortable seating arrangements. Put guests at ease with personal greetings and introductions.
  2. Provide an adequate variety and supply of nonalcoholic beverages and present in an attractive manner. One third of the adult population chooses not to drink at all. Many others who drink socially sometimes prefer not to. When someone says, “No Thanks”, don’t push it.
  3. Clearly identify whether beverages contain alcohol.
  4. Serve snacks so guests need not drink on an empty stomach. Particularly serve food that acts as a buffer for alcohol, not salty foods that act as a stimulant to thirst. Low-calorie, high moisture-content foods, such as raw vegetable strips and light dips are ideal. High protein foods such as cheeses and meats are digested slowly and help slow alcohol absorption.
  5. Avoid having an open bar since it facilitates over-indulgence.
  6. Instruct bartenders to use moderate to light amounts of liquor in mixing drinks. A lot of people count their drinks. If you serve doubles, they’ll be drinking twice as much as they can handle. Doubling up isn’t generous. It is rude.
  7. Wait awhile between drinks, allowing guests time to experience the effects of one drink, before ordering another.
  8. Promote activities or entertainment as diversions from eating and drinking.
  9. “Cocktail” hour, “Happy” hour, or “Attitude Adjustment” hour should be no longer than 45 minutes.
  10. Stop serving alcohol completely toward the end of the party, in anticipation of the drive home.

    If someone drinks too much as your house, you are responsible. That’s what it means to be a host. See that the person gets home safely, but don’t let him/her drive. Don’t think you can sober someone up in a short time with a cold shower or black coffee. Only time can sober a person up. It will take about one hour for every drink the person has had. So sometimes it’s best to let the guest “sleep it off” instead of going home.