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Play It Safe - Be a Responsible Party Host

Everyone likes to have a good time. Whether you're planning a small get-together with friends, or a larger event, party hosts are responsible for making sure the event is not only fun, but safe. 

There’s a reason it’s called throwing a party. A host has to be ready to catch some curve balls and juggle the unexpected when it comes to staging an event that’s fun, entertaining and safe for everyone.

Responsible hosts know that part of showing guests a great time is making sure they get home safely. The best way to do this is through careful planning. And, if you are serving alcohol at your party, here are some tips to make sure that everyone stays safe.


Serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks
Have non-alcoholic drink options available. An epic host should have plenty of alcohol-free beverages for their guests. Check out these great mocktail recipes for ideas!
Food is the key. Always serve food with alcohol. It is proven that food can help counter the effects of alcohol.
Don’t serve alcohol to minors. The legal drinking age is 21 and, as a host, it is your responsibility to make sure minors aren’t drinking.

Don’t force drinks on your guests. Also, don’t rush to refill their glasses when empty.  Be a smart host; push the food, not the alcohol on your guests.
Stop serving alcohol one hour before the party ends. Serve only coffee, tea and non-alcoholic beverages as the party comes to a close.  As the host or hostess, it is your responsibility to help your guests get home safely, so limit the amount of alcohol served toward the end of the party as guests prepare to leave.


Make sure your guests have a safe ride home
don't drink and drive 
Have designated drivers. Plan to have sober drivers at your party who can escort folks home. Volunteer to be a sober driver at someone else’s party.
Collect a cab fare fund. Having available cash to pay cab fare for your guests if they need it reduces the stress on you.  If you can’t afford to pay for it yourself, suggest it on your invitation. 

Have the phone number for the local cab company handy. Many smart phones now offer apps for calling a cab, too.

Use public transportation. Take advantage of Oregon's great public transportation system. Here are some listings for public transportation options in your area:


Have a party action plan


  1. Hosts, co-hosts and friends will take good care of their guests and protect them from the effects of misusing alcohol, not only because it is a legal obligation under the social host liability laws, but because it is the right thing to do.
  2. A good host will not encourage excessive drinking. 
  3. Be mindful of serving individual guests high-alcohol volume drinks (such as a Long Island Ice Tea); no more than 2 should be served to a guest.
  4. Post the signs of visible intoxication.
  5. Minor guests/spouses/dates will not be served alcohol.
  6. Guests should be respectful of the host, other guests, and property or they will be asked to leave. 
  7. Do not “push” alcoholic drinks.
  8. Offer food and non-alcoholic beverages (“spacer” drinks between alcoholic drinks).
  9. No alcohol will be served the last hour of the party.
  10. Make every effort to keep intoxicated guests from driving, including: offering non-alcoholic beverages and snacks to encourage them to stay longer, providing alternative transportation, and arranging overnight accommodations. 
  11. If an intoxicated guest insists on driving, immediately notify the police. 

Intervention techniques


  1. Know and watch for the 50 likely signs of visible intoxication, combinations of the signs, and changes in behavior. 
  2. Count the number of drinks, not glasses, each guest has.
  3. Wait until a guest finishes a drink before offering another.
  4. Serve one drink per person at a time.
  5. Do not push drinks.
  6. Encourage guests to have food and non-alcoholic drinks.
  7. Offer water, coffee, or other non-alcoholic spacers between drinks.
  8. Announce party ending time well in advance. 
  9. When appropriate, take a co-host or friend with you when you have to cut off a guest.
  10. Make it clear you are in control without being overbearing and/or scaring off guests.
  11. Use peer pressure if possible by asking support from the guest’s friends.
  12. When you attempt to pull the drink, use distraction to divert the guest’s attention: tell the guest they have a phone call, or ask the guest if that’s their money or jewelry under the chair, and so on.
  13. When you pull the drink, have something to replace it with: a glass of pop, a cup of coffee, a plate of food, even just a glass of water is better than nothing.
  14. If at all possible, slow down the intoxicated guest who intends to drive by offering them food and non-alcoholic drinks to allow time to sober up.
  15. Offer alternative transportation to keep intoxicated guests from driving.
  16. If an intoxicated guest insists on driving threaten to call the police and identify the driver and the vehicle.
  17. Follow through on your threat if the intoxicated guest drives away. – This is especially important for the host.  Social host liability laws could hold you responsible for any damages or injuries caused by the impaired driver.

Recognize the signs of intoxication

Here are some common signs of visible intoxication. If a person shows just one or two of these signs, that does not necessarily mean the person is intoxicated. But if a person shows a combination of several signs, or has a sudden change in behavior, that could be a strong indication that the person is intoxicated. Remember that intoxication can result from the use of drugs other than alcohol. If you're not sure, don't serve.
1. Bloodshot, glassy eyes
2. Flushed face
3. Droopy eyelids
4. Dazed look
5. Body tremors
6. Blank stare
7. Disheveled clothing
8. Thick, slurred speech
9. Loud, noisy speech
10. Speaking loudly, then quietly
11. Rambling train of thought
12. Slow response to questions or comments
13. Bravado, boasting
14. Making irrational statements
15. Annoying other guests and employees
16. Argumentative
17. Aggressive or belligerent
18. Obnoxious or mean
19. Inappropriate sexual advances
20. Overly friendly to other guests or employees
21. Boisterous
22. Swaying, staggering, or stumbling
23. Unable to sit straight
24. Careless with money
25. Difficulty making change
26. Restless
27. Depressed or sullen
28. Crying or moody
29. Extreme or sudden change in behavior
30. Overly animated or entertaining
31. Crude, inappropriate speech or gestures
32. Drowsiness
33. Lack of focus and eye contact
34. Difficulty standing up
35. Unusual walk
36. Falling off of chair
37. Falling asleep
38. Can't find mouth with glass
39. Falling down
40. Difficulty lighting cigarettes
41. Lighting more than one cigarette
42. Clumsy
43. Difficulty remembering
44. Spilling drinks
45. Disoriented
46. Agitated, anxious
47. Grinding teeth
48. Odor of alcohol, marijuana or chemicals
49. Excessive perspiration
50. Repeated trips to the restroom or outside area



Be aware of your liability as a host
social host laws 
Did you know that party hosts can be held legally responsible for injuries or damages that occur as a result of the alcohol provided at your party?
ORS 471.565 Licensee, permittee and social host liability
As a social host, if you serve visibly intoxicated persons or guests, you may be held liable for damages caused by the persons or guests away from your home or licensed premises.
ORS 471.410(3) Controlling an area where minors are permitted to consume alcohol
It is illegal for someone exercising control over private real property to allow any person under 21 to consume alcohol on the property in your presence. It is also illegal to allow any person under age 21 to remain on the property if they have consumed alcohol. Private real property may include a hotel room, camp site, or any rented/leased location. The only exception is for your own minor child/children. If you control an area where minors consume alcohol, you will receive a criminal citation. (Criminal Violation)


Don't serve alcohol to minors

Don’t serve alcohol to minors. We've said it before, and we'll say it again. The legal drinking age is 21, and as a host it is your responsibility to make sure minors aren’t drinking.
Oregon's Alcohol Laws and Minors

Stay sober

A good party host is a sober host. Limiting your own alcohol intake will allow you to better determine if a guest is sober enough to drive at the end of the night.

Don't host your party alone

Have a trusted friend or family member help you.

It's much easier to keep your party under control if you have co-hosts to help.


Open bar vs. designated server
summer cocktails 
Guests usually drink more when they can serve themselves. Free-pouring or guessing the amount of alcohol for drinks can lead to excessive drinking. Use self-measuring, one-ounce bottle spouts at the bar if you decide to have an open bar.
Using a designated person (sober, of course) to mix or serve drinks can help keep your guests from consuming too much alcohol.