This post was written in partnership with Responsibility.org.
I come from a long line of party animals.
My siblings and I love to laugh, sing, dance, and have fun – and we never have more fun than when we’re all together.
And yes, “adult” beverages are a part of our family’s holiday traditions, along with raucous card games, loud sing-a-longs and dance-offs, and more laughter than seems possible.
When we were kids, social norms surrounding drinking and driving were more lax, and I definitely remember piling into cars with moderately inebriated adults at one time or another. But as the saying goes, when you know better, you do better. Not only do I need to keep my family and myself safe, but I also try to remember that my kids are watching and taking their cues from the choices we adults make.
And as much as my siblings and I love to have a good time – and for us, a few cocktails or glasses of wine often accompany that good time – we’ve learned that making a plan to keep everyone safe can be surprisingly easy.
Here are some of the ways we plan safe transportation for ourselves and guests during the holiday season…and all year round:
1. Call for a ride. There are cab companies even in tiny towns, and I’m always surprised at how few people put them to use. Yes, we’ve had some odd moments with our small-town cab service, like the time the driver showed up in an extended-cab Ford F150 truck and we had to pile into the back of the cab. But it’s definitely better than driving after having too much to drink, and it has also given us some great stories to tell at future parties!
2. Know yourself and wait it out. Understanding how alcohol is metabolized by the body can help you determine a safe amount of alcohol to drink and how long you should wait to drive. The “virtual bar” at B4UDrink.org is a great tool to give you a general idea of what your blood alcohol level might be after a certain number of drinks over a specific amount of time. Remember that drinking slowly, alternating with water, and being sure to eat can help keep you from drinking too much. When it doubt, stop drinking and wait it out.
3. Have a sleepover! We have a Halloween and New Year’s Eve party every year, and always make sleeping room for as many people as we can humanly manage. With the size of my family (several siblings + partners + an average of four kids per household) not to mention friends, there often seem to be people sleeping on every horizontal space – but I feel much better knowing I’m keeping everyone safely under one roof for the night. For the adults who would rather head home, we often offer to keep the kids so that they can more easily arrange for a ride…or stay later to sober up after we’ve put the kids to bed.
4. Go for a walk. If the temperatures aren’t frigid and you live a reasonable distance from a party, why not plan to walk home at the end of the night? I’ve really enjoyed some of the midnight walks my husband and I have shared on our way home from get-togethers at my brother’s house (who lives a little less than a mile away) or our downtown (a little further than that), even when the air is crisp.
5. Get creative. If you’re planning to serve or drink alcohol at a party it’s worth taking a few minutes to brainstorm ways to get home safely. Some ideas we’ve employed in the past:
- Designate a single driver to take carloads throughout the night. In our family this has occasionally been someone who’s taken the night off from drinking for one reason or another, and we’ve even paid underage, young adult drivers to play chauffeur.
- Switch off nights. Sometimes I’ll offer to drive to one event, then Jon takes the next one.
- Arrange for a pickup from a friend or family member and be sure to return the favor in the future!
Whatever you do? If you know you’ll be drinking – or even just suspect you might – make a plan ahead of time. That way you won’t be trying to make important decisions at the end of the night, when you’re tired and your judgment might be impaired.
Because I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather spend my evening singing my face off or considering my Euchre strategy than worrying about how I’m going to get myself, or my kids, home safely.
How do you arrange safe transportation for your guests – or yourself! – after a holiday party?
It’s not too late to join an important and ongoing discussion about alcohol responsibility by sharing your thoughts and opinions about how to have or start conversations with your children around alcohol responsibility. Participants will be entered into a drawing for more than $5K in prizes. Click here to take the survey.