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Celebrate Sensibly This Christmas

Celebrate Sensibly This Christmas

DECEMBER 14 2007

It’s that time of year again when an abundance of good food, good wine and good company is the norm. Everyone enjoys the extra socialising that comes with Christmas and holidays, and work places and organisations everywhere are holding Christmas parties.

There are many more opportunities than usual to drink alcohol with family and friends. However, it’s easy to get carried away and have one too many, undoing any good intentions you had of having all things in moderation. The Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) has come up with some tips to see you through the festive season with your health intact.

For employers hosting staff parties:

- Set your expectations in advance. Say that you won’t be impressed by drunken behaviour.
- Be up front and tell people drink driving isn’t your only worry – you don’t want any accidents or embarrassing episodes.
- As the employer you’re the host. You should implement host responsibility provisions and ensure the function doesn’t get out of hand.
- Get loads of substantial food rolling early on in the evening.
- Serve more interesting non-alcoholic drinks than just orange juice. It’s surprising how people will really enjoy something like a grapefruit and tonic with a chunk of mint in it for a change.
- Don’t keep serving people who are getting intoxicated. Brief your waiters if it’s an in-house party. If it’s on a licensed premise, it shouldn’t happen anyway because it’s illegal to serve people who are intoxicated.
- Watch out for the younger staff, particularly those under-18. And check how the law applies if you’re the host or taking people out to a licensed premise.
- Arrange for taxis to take people home. And model good behaviour yourself.

For those out celebrating or hosting a party at home:
- Know how much you are drinking.
- Watch the size of the drink and count how many you have had. The standard drinks measure is a simple way to work out how much alcohol you are drinking. To check how many standard drinks are in a can, bottle or cask, look for the standard drinks label.
- If you’re out for the night, decide on a limit of how much you plan to drink, and stick to it—or have less! Avoid rounds. Round buying often means you drink more than you want. Pace yourself. Slow down and take smaller sips. Savour the flavour! Drink water or soft drink in between alcoholic drinks.

- Say “no” to top ups. You won’t be able to keep track of how much you are drinking. Also, don’t let anyone pressure you into having another drink. Have excuses planned, such as “No thanks, I’ve had enough – I’ve got a lot on tomorrow.”
- Alcohol on an empty stomach makes people become drunk more quickly. If you are the host, always offer something substantial to eat, not just chips and dip. Eating does not stop people becoming drunk, but it does slow down the effects of alcohol by giving the body more time to get rid of it. For example, it takes approximately one hour for the body to digest one 300ml glass of normal strength beer.

- Have non-alcoholic drinks available and make sure they are just as visible as the alcoholic ones. Mention them to guests when offering a drink. Serve more interesting non-alcoholic drinks than just orange juice.
- Appoint a bartender. Have one person serve and if possible, measure the drinks rather than have a free-for-all. People normally pour themselves larger drinks than they would get in the hotel, making it hard to keep track of how much alcohol they’ve had.

- Wait until your guest’s glass is empty before you re-fill it. And if someone says “no” to a refill, don’t insist.

- Look after your guests. Don’t let them drive home if they have had too much to drink. Ensure they get a taxi or offer them a bed for the night. Don’t let women leave alone on foot. If guests become very drunk don’t leave them alone. Seek medical assistance if they pass out.

- Teenagers out for the night or at parties should look out for their mates. Stick together and think about how you’ll get home before you go out. It might mean asking someone in your family or a designated driver to pick you up. It’s okay to catch a ride home with friends, as long as the driver is sober. If you’re not sure, play it safe and find another way home. Don’t try walking home alone.

- Parents hosting parties – remember your children watch your behaviour. They are more likely to do as you do, not as you say.

- And finally, nothing can get alcohol out of your system—water, coffee or cold showers won’t sober you up. Only time and your liver can do that!


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