Well, it's that time of year again. Holiday parties are plentiful, whether in a purely social or a business setting. It's a great time of year, meant to spend time with family, friends and co-workers, celebrating Christmas and ringing in the New Year.
But, as can be the case in any party setting, Holiday events remind us that there are those who can't responsibly control their alcohol consumption, and end up overdoing it. The last thing you want is to embarrass yourself in front of your boss and the entire office staff. Perhaps even worse, an employee's spouse who over indulges and drools all over your boss's wingtips is a surefire way to get passed over when the next round of promotions comes around.
On second thought, there are worse things that can result from getting hammered at a Christmas party – the most serious is getting behind the wheel of a car after having too much to drink, and causing a serious car crash.
December has been designated National Impaired Prevention Month, designed to raise awareness about the dangers of driving while drunk, or under the influence of drugs. President Obama made the declaration official, as he asked all Americans to “recommit to preventing tragedy before it strikes by ensuring our family members and friends stay sober, drug-free and safe on the road”.
December is an extremely busy month on our area roads, with visitors from up north enjoying some beach time instead of shoveling snow, and the annual influx of part-time, snowbird residents returning to their winter nests. Pair that with so many Christmas parties, and you've got a recipe for roadway disaster.
Here are some things to consider before you even accept that next invitation to a seasonal soiree:
- Have a transportation plan in place BEFORE you head out the door. You probably don't plan on getting wasted, (or maybe you do), so make sure you have a responsible person who will serve as the designated driver for the trip home. You could also make the conscious decision to grab a cab, and maybe even split the cost with other party-goers to save a few bucks. Think about it – a $25.00 cab ride beats a $10,000+ DUI arrest any day. Don't pick now to be cheap.
- If you do drink, alternate between non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Have a glass of water, club soda or 7-Up after the wine or cocktail.
- Eat something, for crying out loud. You say it's too hard to balance those little plates and your glass of scotch at the same time? Too bad – grab some food from the buffet and find a place to sit while you eat. Really smart people eat something before they even get to the party – booze on an empty stomach is a big Holiday party no-no.
- If you're the boss in charge of an office party, watch the way you offer alcohol to your guests. An open bar can mean trouble – although it will help you identify someone from the company who may have a drinking problem. Consider giving two drink tickets to attendees, and make sure you have plenty of coffee, soft drinks and bottled water on hand.
- If you see that someone at your party has obviously had too much, do something about it. Ignoring it and hoping they'll get home safe is not the way to handle it. Much better to let the person know you will help make sure they get home safely has far fewer ramifications than finding out on tomorrow's news that they never arrived at their destination.
- Carefully consider what you drink. If you're typically a beer or wine person, do NOT pick the Holiday party to try shots of the hot new tequila everyone is talking about. And nothing makes the day after more miserable than mixing too many types of alcohol in one night. That Yuletide Punch may look delicious, but also may not be the best idea after one or two martinis.
The fact is, you can still enjoy all of the seasonal parties you'd like, provided you have a solid back-up plan in case you over indulge. If you're the type that can drink responsibly and not make a fool of yourself, cool – you should be fine. Don't be the idiot that abandons your self-imposed, no alcohol rule after getting to the party. The cute receptionist flirting with you will not be impressed by your stubbornness in insisting, “I'm OK to drive”.