Alcohol at parties can be great fun, but alcohol at parties can also spell disaster. Here are some great tips for your parties.

It may be a summer BBQ. It may be a cosy winter party with whanau and friends. Here are some great tips for people of all ages — adults and teenagers — on how to have fun, stay safe and have alcohol at parties.

Firstly think about who you are going to invite

How well do you know them?

Have you been to parties with them before?

How do they react around alcohol?

Make it clear that you don’t want people there that you don’t know and trust.

Invite friends who will make the party fun, not people who may cause trouble.

Do you have space for your friends to stay over? This avoids the driving and alcohol issue. Check with your parents whether they are happy with friends staying over in tents. Alternatively a minibus with a responsible, legal driver may solve those issues.

If this is a teenage party, check it out with your parents or other responsible adults. Check on numbers allowed and the rules around alcohol. From December 18 2013, the law requires adults who give alcohol to anyone under 18 to have express permission from their parent or guardian. You can find out more about this law on our information page

What about food?

It’s a great idea to arrange some food for the party and don’t rely on chippies and peanuts to fill everyone up. Drinking on an empty stomach can be lethal and can result in a party ending early and abruptly due to things getting out of hand. Here are some ideas:

  • Bring a plate – ask half your mates to bring sweet and half to bring savoury
  • Bring a plate with a theme – present a challenge
  • Take away pizza is popular and filling
  • My favourite for a party is great fresh bread and carved ham! Easy, everyone loves it, party lasts longer when you feed them well!
  • Never forget the great sausage sizzle

What about drinks?

Make sure you have water available, as well as soft drinks, for the non drinkers and for those with the sense to pace themselves! Making a fruit punch is usually popular too.

Ensure you have lots of:

  • Water
  • Fruit juice
  • Fizzy drinks

If you’re having alcohol, then beer is usually the favourite. It’s a great idea to offer low alcohol beer too.

Wine is a lot more potent – a bottle contains at least 6 times more alcohol than a bottle of beer. Get smaller glasses, preferably plastic ones from a supermarket or large store.

Alcopops are popular, but beware – they contain more alcohol than beer, but the taste is heavily disguised by flavouring and sugar!

Don’t get spirits for a party – it’s asking for trouble!

Check out the number of standard drinks in the bottles of alcohol at the party – it is written on every bottle or can of alcoholic drink.

Put out loads of soft drinks next to the alcoholic ones – having non alcoholic drinks regularly through out the party will help you avoid the dreaded hangover.

 

What if it all turns ugly?

Make sure there is a responsible adult on hand. Avoid the party turning sour by planning a fun party, carefully.

If one of your mates has too much to drink, get them safely in the recovery position:

  • Lying on their side, knees bent, arms out front.
  • Ensure their mouth is empty
  • Stay with them until they are conscious.

If someone is vomiting constantly, you cannot rouse them, or you’re worried about their breathing – CALL AN AMBULANCE.

If the party turns ugly and is out of control – CALL THE POLICE.

If it’s not your party, leave if you can. Always have a contingency plan to get home – keep a taxi fare with you at all times so you never need to get into a car with someone who’s been drinking.

Some sobering facts about alcohol

Alcohol is addictive

There is no known safe limit for alcohol in young people

Once you are drunk only time will get you sober again – it takes at least one hour for your liver to ‘break down’ each standard drink of alcohol.

Alcohol does more harm to people than the dangerous drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. It is widely available and sadly abused, causing much misery in families and individual ill health such as liver and stomach problems.

So here’s how to enjoy alcohol at parties

  • Eat first
  • Pace yourself
  • Drink lots of non alcoholic drinks too
  • Plan ahead
  • Get home safely
  • Look out for yourself and your friends
  • And have a great time!

 

Useful articles

For more information on the Effects of Alcohol, visit our informative Kiwi Families article.

If you are concerned about your own drinking, or one of your friend’s drinking, you can contact the Alcohol helpline on 0800 787 797 for free information and advice, and total confidentiality.

Or visit the following website, run by Youthlinewww.urge.org.nz

 

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Paula Skelton is a qualified NZ nurse and midwife, a midwifery & childbirth educator and the mum of three lovely girls.

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