Tips for hosts

If you're hosting a party or celebration and you're serving alcohol or have asked people to bring alcohol with them, here are some easy tips and ideas to make sure everyone has fun without drinking too much.

There's a lot to think about when you're having people over for dinner, a BBQ, a party, or a catch up or are hosting a private event at a hired venue.

Organise, plan and prepare

Nail down the details beforehand and involve other family members or friends. Consider going alcohol-free, especially if children and young people are invited.  

If you are hiring a community hall, check if there are any alcohol-related conditions. Some church halls have an alcohol-free policy.  Check with your local Council, when hiring a Council-owned community venue.

Set your expectations in advance

Be clear what you're inviting people over for. Think about who you're inviting. If you know there are some people that are likely to drink too much, talk to them in advance and put things in place to keep them safe. Let quests know when you invite them what you're planning and what to expect.

Plan to do things other than eat and drink

Plan entertainment or activities to get people up out of their chairs and talking and laughing. But don't mix alcohol with any potentially dangerous activities.

Provide substantial food

Whenever you're providing alcohol, provide food that stays in the stomach longer and takes time to digest, like bread, pasta, potatoes, meat and cheese. These foods will slow down how fast alcohol is absorbed into the blood.  Make sure there is plenty available and keep passing it around. And remember to have some vege options too. Ask people to bring a plate so you don't have to provide it all yourself. Try to avoid overly salty food that makes people thirstier.

Check out the website for some great food ideas and snacks recipes.

Serve more interesting non-alcoholic drinks

Some people may only want to drink non-alcoholic drinks or to alternate their alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. Be creative. People will often really enjoy something like a grapefruit juice and tonic with a chunk of mint in it.

Provide water

Place carafes or jugs of water and glasses in visible spots and keep them topped up. You might be surprised how much water your guests drink, when it's available. Circulate with refills of water and non-alcoholic drinks not just alcoholic drinks.

If you're serving spirits make them singles

Many people count the number of drinks they have and if you serve them doubles they will end up drinking twice as much as they'd planned.

Serve cocktails in a punch bowl

Keep cocktails light in alcohol or leave the alcohol out. No-one really knows how much, or how little, alcohol you've put in.

Offer lower strength alcoholic drinks

Low-strength beer and lower strength wines are increasing in popularity. Non-alcohol beer is now available too.

Only refill empty glasses

Wait until your guest's glass is empty before you refill it and ask them if they would like another drink first. If someone says no to a refill, don't insist. An empty glass also gives them a chance to have a quick water between drinks.

Don't keep serving your guests until they are drunk

If you see someone getting too tiddly, get them to ease off the alcohol and offer them some food or a non-alcoholic cocktail instead. If you need to talk to guests about slowing down, always be discreet and treat them with respect to avoid confrontation.

Watch your own drinking

If you're hosting, watch your own alcohol intake so that you can continue to have a great time and keep an eye on everything.

Don't host your party alone

Ask family members or friends to help keep everything fun and in control.

Appoint a bartender

Consider having one person serve the drinks and keep an eye on things rather than a free-for-all. People often pour themselves larger drinks at home than they would get in a bar, making it hard to keep check of how much alcohol they've had. Make sure the bartender is someone responsible who is going to be able to intervene when someone has had enough.

Remember young people under 18 years can't be supplied with alcohol unless it is by their parent or legal guardian, or the person supplying has the express consent of their parent or legal guardian. Make sure whoever is looking after the bar is aware of this. Find out more about what the law says.

Look after young people 

The advice from Te Hiringa Hauora/Health Promotion Agency for parents is that 'not drinking alcohol is the safest option for children and young people under 18 years'.

Get them involved in the party and entertainment planning too. Keep an eye on everyone, especially young people around drinks. 

Supervise the kids

If young children are going to be there, make sure there's a responsible adult or older person looking out for them and providing entertainment. And remember your children watch your behaviour. They are more likely to do as you do, not as you say.

Push Play

Get out all the old sports gear for a game of backyard cricket, touch, softball or frisbee.

Set an end time

Make a time for the party/BBQ to end and stick to it. Tell your quests in their invitation so everyone knows.

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 people walk home alone.

Think about your neighbours too

Is your party is going to impact (eg noise, street parking) on the neighbours? Consider inviting them, or at the very least tell them that you are throwing a party. Talk through any issues like noise before the party.