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... for having a great safe and enjoyable New Year's party (or any other kind of celebration)

We assume you're serving alcohol.  Here's some ground rules: 

  1. Have a designated bartender, preferably a member of the household who's responsible and diplomatic; or hire a real one for the occasion.  Don't let guests serve themselves.
  2. Serve small drinks - smallest bottles or cans of beer, small glasses for wine or mixed drinks.  Have lots of ice and mixers on hand to dilute the alcohol.
  3. Don't serve alcohol to minors!   If you see a guest giving a drink to a minor, intervene even if someone gets mad.  In a worse case scenario where a minor actually gets tipsy, call their parents immediately to come and pick them up.  
  4. Serve lots of food and snacks, right from the start.  Get the guests to eating before they even think about drinks.  Keep the snacks and finger food circulating throughout the party.
  5. Have plenty of other beverages available - good coffee, tea, juice, punch, chilled cans of soda and bottled water.   This way guests can quench their thirst with something non-alcoholic.  Be sure and serve beverages in covered pitchers, not in a punch bowl that someone can spike with alcohol or slip a narcotic or other drug into.   Have the bartender oversee the beverage area, even if guests serve themselves, for this reason.
  6. Have less chairs than guests, to keep them circulating and on their feet.   Supply games, especially those that take some dexterity like Twister, or mental alertness like charades.  Encourage contests, singing around the piano (if anyone plays), board or trivia games. Don't blast music so high that people cannot talk, and may lead neighbors to complain or call the police.  
  7. And speaking of neighbors, invite any who are close enough to be affected by traffic, parking, noise or lights.   
  8. If a guest shows signs of becoming tipsy at all, when they request their next drink, ask casually did they ride with someone else, or did they drive?  If they drove themselves, tell them that out of concern and friendship, you'll only serve more drinks to them in exchange for their car keys.  Lock up the keys with their name attached.
  9. Close the bar about an hour before the party will be over, and start serving desserts.
  10. Plan ahead what you will do if a guest drinks too much to drive safely.   You might, for instance, have all your extra pillows, sheets and blankets clean and available, and let them bed down for the night on couches, loungers, or a carpeted floor.  Back when our kids were in their late teens and 18 was the legal drinking age, whenever we had a large party there were frequently guests sleeping all over the place at our invitation, and we planned breakfast ahead of time.   You could also offer to call a cab, or make sure a drinker has a designated driver who has the car keys in their possession.   You might even ask for sober volunteers to drive people home who've had too much to drink.  Not only do friends not let friends drive drunk, you could find yourself in deep legal trouble by serving too much alcohol to someone who subsequently has an accident!

So, enjoy, but do it safely and help your guests do so safely.   It's lots more fun to party sober and wake up to a fresh new year without a hangover.

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