Personally, I would rather spend my calories on chocolate. For those who do imbibe or host parties where alcohol is served, social responsibility takes center stage. Responsible drinking means no regrets or at least none related to alcohol. Here are some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this season.
Know your limit. Many factors influence how much alcohol causes impairment: age, gender, genetics, fitness, certain prescription and other drugs, pace of drinking, and an empty stomach, for starters. Heavy drinking is often defined as more than 2 drinks in a single day for men, or 1 for women. The risk of injury (and regret) increases with every drink. Since there's no way to predict how much alcohol will cause impairment in a given situation, never drive after drinking.
Prepare your home. If you're hosting a party, consider using a bowl or basket to collect car keys. That way, you can hand over keys only to sober guests on their way out. Arrange easy access to food and non-alcoholic drinks; place alcohol out of sight or under the control of a bartender. Avoid creating a self-serve "bar" where people hang out; rearrange furniture so that people will circulate and mingle. Consider planning activities like games or dancing lessons; they will make your party more memorable, too. Have fresh linens handy in case you have unexpected inebriated guests overnight.
Offer a variety of drinks. Sometimes people just want something in their hands. Many adults actually prefer a non-alcoholic beverage. Alcohol-free apple cider, hot chocolate, tea, cranberry juice spritzers, flavored waters and "mock-tails" make great alternatives. Beer and wine are also intoxicating: a 12-oz. beer has about as much alcohol as a 5-oz. glass of wine or a 1.5-oz. shot of liquor. Carbonated mixers like tonic water or club soda actually cause alcohol to be absorbed more quickly into the body.
Be a good bartender. Do not push drinks, never serve doubles, and use small glasses. Only offer refills to guests once their glass is empty. Offer non-alcoholic drinks as well, and pace refills. Never serve underage guests alcohol. Ask who the designated drive is before serving.
Feed your guests. Alcohol is absorbed more quickly on an empty stomach, so offer edibles. Go easy on the salt, as it may make people thirstier.
Don't rely on coffee. May people believe that coffee will sober someone up. While coffee can make someone more alert, it in no way counteracts the impairment caused by alcohol. In fact, an alert drunk person may feel more energized by coffee and try to do more than they should. Only time can make someone sober. That said, it's a good idea to stop serving alcohol an hour or so before the party ends, and serve hot drinks instead.
Give a caring farewell. Identify inebriated guests, and pair them with a sober driver for a safe ride home. Have taxi phone numbers and cash for cab fares on hand. When all else fails, bring out fresh linens and give your guest a safe place to sleep on your couch. They can thank you later.