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From planning the party menu to assessing how guests will get home safely once the party is over, your role as a responsible party host can keep your friends and loved ones safe.

The Basics

Don't rely on coffee to sober up your guests. Only time can make someone sober.

Beer and wine are just as intoxicating as hard liquor. A 12-ounce can of beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce wine cooler and an ounce and a half of liquor contain the same amount of alcohol.

Don't rely on someone's physical appearance to determine if he or she has had too much to drink.

Mixers won't help dilute alcohol. Carbonated mixers like club soda or tonic water cause alcohol to be absorbed into a person's system more quickly. Fruit juice and other sweet mixers mask the taste of alcohol and may cause people to drink more.

Planning A Great Party

Responsible hosts know that part of showing guests a great time is making sure they get home safely. Dealing with safe driving is an important hosting duty so we've compiled some quick tips to help you throw a memorably successful party without tossing caution to the wind.

Plan activities like party games, door prize drawings or amateur fortune-telling. Planned activities engage people, make for less active consumption of alcohol and ensure that your friends remember the great event long after the last piece of confetti has settled.

Provide plenty of food to keep your guests from drinking on an empty stomach.

Avoid too many salty snacks, which tend to make people thirsty and drink more.

Offer non-alcoholic beverages or mocktails for designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.

If preparing an alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base, like fruit juice. Carbonated drinks absorb alcohol faster.

Be prepared by having the number of a taxi service on hand for those who need a ride. Also, be ready with some clean linens so you can turn your sofa into a hotel for guests who need to sleep it off.

During Your Party

Never serve alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age, and never ask children to serve alcohol at parties.

Don't let guests mix their own drinks. A reliable "bartender" will help track the size and number of drinks that guests drink.

If a guest appears to be drinking a bit much, offer to freshen his or her drink with a virgin version.

Do not push drinks! Drinking at a party is not mandatory for having a good time.

Have fun - but not too much fun. A good host should stay within limits in order to make sure guests stay within theirs.

Close the bar 90 minutes before the party ends and serve a great dessert treat with coffee.

Remember, only time sobers someone who has been drinking.

If, despite your efforts, some of your guests have had too much to drink, drive them home, arrange for a ride with another guest who is sober, call a taxi, or invite them to stay over.

Office Parties

Arrange for discounted or complimentary rooms when a party is held at a hotel so employees won't drive home impaired.

Hire a shuttle or limousine service to provide transportation for those that have been drinking.

Promote the designated driver concept in party invitations.

Do not push drinks!

If you provide an open bar, be sure the bartender has had server training to prevent over-serving and serving guests under the legal drinking age.

If A Guest Is Drinking Too Much

How do I approach one of my guests who has had too much to drink? I mean, I don't want to lose a friend.

The first time is the hardest, but your actions could save your friends life. Tell them that you cannot let them drive home because you care. Offer to let the guest spend the night, call a cab, or ask a sober guest to drive the intoxicated person home.

Engage him/her in a conversation to slow down the drinking.

Offer to make the next drink and use less alcohol.

Don't be afraid to insist that they sit out the sipping for awhile or switch to beverages of the non-alcoholic variety.

The laws vary from state to state, but you could be held legally responsible if a car crash is caused by a guest.

Myths And Facts About Drinking

Myth: Coffee can sober up someone who has had too much to drink.
Fact: Only time sobers. It takes about one hour to oxidize each drink.

Myth: Hard liquor is more intoxicating than beer or wine.
Fact: A 12-ounce can of beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce wine cooler contain the same amount of alcohol and the same intoxication potential as 1 1/2 oz. of liquor.

Myth: Someone who has had too much to drink will look intoxicated.
Fact: Someone's physical appearance can be misleading. One drink can impair someone's ability to drive. Judgment is the first thing affected when someone has been drinking and important motor skills are next.

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