Being a responsible host is about creating a warm, friendly and safe environment for your guests. There are many factors to be aware of and prepare for, so plan ahead to help ensure you and your guests only have enjoyable times and everyone gets home safely.
What to do if
You're hosting brunch and a friend decides to drive home after a few mimosas.
Simply say “no” to drinking and driving. Be firm. Let your friend know that you can't let them drive home because you care. It's a tough spot to be in, but you could save their life.
You're hosting a party and you notice your guests are getting bored with the regular non-alcoholic drinks like water, pop and juice.
Offer your guests a variety of non-alcoholic drinks to choose from. Visit our Mocktails section for lots of delicious, alcohol-free recipes.
After your party a friend decides to drive, claiming they've only had one mixed drink instead of their usual three beers. As the host, do you believe they're okay to drive?
It's a myth that all drinks are the same. Wine, beer and spirits all contain different amounts of alcohol. Most beers contain 5% alcohol, while wines contain 11% to 12%. Spirits such as vodka or rye contain 40% or more. The alcohol content also depends on glass size.
You're hosting a party and start to notice some guests are getting tipsy.
Serve snacks with drinks and always have food available to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Avoid serving salty, sweet or greasy snack foods, they'll just make your guests thirstier.
You're hosting a party and one of your guests passes out after drinking.
If a friend or guest passes out, never leave them alone. Have someone call 911. Be sure to roll them onto their side, with their head on its side as well, until help arrives.
Be a Great Host - A GUIDE TO RESPONSIBLE HOSTING
Top 10 tips for being a great host
Don't plan physical activities when you’re serving alcohol. People are more prone to accidents and injury while drinking.Provide low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks, such as mocktails, non-alcoholic punch, pop, bottled water, tea and coffee.Have food available to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Avoid serving salty, sweet or greasy snack foods; they’ll make your guests thirstier. High-starch and protein foods such as meats, veggies, cheeses, dips and breads are good choices.Be prepared for overnight guests.Serve drinks yourself or designate a bartender instead of having an open bar. People tend to drink more when they serve themselves. Also, avoid serving doubles. Keep a jigger next to the bottles to measure accurately.Have a plan to deal with guests who drink too much. Before the party, ask someone reliable to help you keep things under control.Promote the use of designated drivers and keep cash and telephone numbers on hand for taxis. Encourage guests to leave their cars at home. If they insist on driving, be prepared to take away their car keys.A good host isn’t obliged to top up a guest’s drink. Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before the party is over. Be sure to have a lot of alcohol-free drinks (bottled water, juice, coffee and tea) and food when you do. Remember that having coffee after drinking doesn't make you sober.Don't drink too much yourself. As the host, you’ll be able to handle potential problems better when you can think clearly and act quickly.Plan ahead so that it's easy to follow this advice.
Ideas to help stop your guests from drinking and driving
Plan ahead. Make sure there's always a designated driver around to get everyone home safe and sound.Make sure drinking and driving isn't an option. Take turns being the designated driver.Make sure everyone's got cab money or public transit fare so that no one is stuck without options at the end of the night.Arrange for a few overnight parking spots so that your guests don't need to worry about getting towed or ticketed if they have to leave their car behind.Simply say "no". Be firm. Let your friend know that you can't let them drive home because you care. It's a tough spot to be in, but you could save their life. Remember, it's always best to take them aside to alleviate any potential embarrassment.If a friend’s been drinking, don’t be embarrassed to call someone on their behalf for a safe ride home. Everyone involved will appreciate it in the end.You can always call a cab for a friend. It’s a lot easier to convince them to take it if it’s already there than it is if they have to wait around for one.Ask for their keys:
Don’t give in. Persistence is key when dealing with the issue of drinking and driving. Insist that they find another way home.If a friend’s been drinking but insists on driving, be prepared to call the police for help. It’s tough, but it could save lives.
- Asking your friend for their keys when they’ve been drinking doesn’t need to be awkward. Just be discreet and calm. You could even make light of the situation. It’s always better to pull a friend aside to talk to them in private.
- If you feel awkward about asking for their keys, enlist someone else’s help. Sometimes there’s strength in numbers.
Your responsibilities as a host
Remember that you may be held responsible if your guest is injured or harms another as a result of driving home from your house impaired. If you serve alcohol, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your guests get home safely.
Monitor your guests’ drinking. Just because they may not look drunk doesn’t mean they aren’t.
Injuries from falls, fights and vehicle crashes increase when alcohol is involved, so serve it responsibly when hosting parties. You’ll help keep everyone safe and reduce your risk of being sued.
For more information on your legal responsibilities as a host, visit the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario's (AGCO) website at www.agco.on.ca, or call LCBO’s infoline toll-free at 1-800-ONT-LCBO (1-800-668-5226) and (416) 365-5900 (Toronto).
Having a party? Download our responsible hosting checklist
Having a party? Download our responsible hosting checklist.
This handy checklist will ensure that you've got what you need to be a responsible host.
What makes a drink?
It’s a myth that all drinks are the same. Wine, beer and spirits all contain different amounts of alcohol. Most beers contain 5% alcohol, while wines usually contain 11% to 14%. Spirits such as vodka or rye often contain 40% or more. The alcohol content also depends on glass size.
Don't be fooled: common alcohol myths dispelled
MYTH: Driving after only a drink or two is no big deal.
FACT: Drinking and driving is never OK. Impairment begins with your first drink. It's just not smart. You’ll put yourself and others at risk.MYTH: Eating a big meal before I drink will keep me sober.
FACT: Food in your stomach only delays the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. A full stomach doesn't stop the effects of alcohol or intoxication.MYTH: Switching between beer, wine and spirits will affect me more than sticking to one type of alcohol.
FACT: Wrong. Your blood alcohol concentration or BAC – the percentage of alcohol in your blood – is what counts, not the types of drinks consumed. Alcohol is alcohol.MYTH: It's just a wine spritzer/beer. It can't damage me.
FACT: Any kind of alcohol, if consumed irresponsibly, has the potential to seriously damage your digestive system, brain, heart, liver, stomach and other critical organs. It could also take years off your life.MYTH: Everybody reacts the same way to alcohol.
FACT: Everyone is different. There are dozens of factors that affect reactions to alcohol: your gender, body weight, body chemistry, time of day, how you feel mentally, fatigue—the list goes on.MYTH: Alcohol gives you energy.
FACT: Nope. Alcohol’s a drug. It's a depressant and slows down your ability to think, speak and move. Even at low levels, it affects your perception, coordination and judgment, long before any physical signs of impairment occur.MYTH: I'll sleep better if I've had a few drinks.
FACT: Wrong. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it interferes with the quality of sleep you get.MYTH: A cold shower and a cup of coffee are good ways to sober up.
FACT: A shower will make you feel clean and a coffee may keep you awake, but nothing sobers you up other than time.MYTH: Alcohol makes me sexier.
FACT: Alcohol clouds your judgment and makes you less inhibited. You could end up engaging in something you hadn't planned on or wouldn’t normally do, including unprotected and/or unwanted sex, putting you at serious risk of a lot of bad things. Also, physiologically, it reduces your performance. Definitely not sexy.MYTH: If someone passes out after drinking, it's best to let them sleep it off.
FACT: If a friend or guest passes out, never leave them alone. Have someone call 911. And be sure to roll them onto their side with their head on its side as well, until help arrives.MYTH: I can only become an alcoholic after years of drinking.
FACT: You can develop alcoholism at any age. It all depends on how much and how often you drink.MYTH: People who drink too much only hurt themselves.
FACT: Everyone has friends and family who care about them. If the problem drinker gets behind the wheel of a car they could kill someone else.MYTH: It's none of my business if a friend is drinking too much.
FACT: If you're a real friend, it is your business. You can't make them change, but you can be honest. Maybe they'll listen. You might even be able to help them decide to get help.MYTH: The worst thing that can happen when you drink too much is ending up with a raging hangover.
FACT: If only. For one thing, if you drink a lot of alcohol quickly it can build up in your body so much that you can die of alcohol poisoning within only a few hours. Also, you're more prone to accidents, which can be serious or fatal, especially if you’re behind the wheel of a car. Definitely much worse than a hangover.
Need more information?
Canada's first set of national low-risk drinking guidelines were recently introduced for women and men. To find more information about these recommendations, visit: http://www.ccsa.ca/eng/priorities/alcohol/canada-low-risk-alcohol-drinking-guidelines/Pages/default.aspx
MADD Canada has launched a line of virgin drinks as alternatives to alcohol. A variety of wine, beer and cocktails are available at select retailers and 10 per cent of net sales go to support the organization. To find out more about MADD Virgin Drinks, visit: canstore.maddvirgindrinks.com/
Unsure of how much alcohol to purchase for a party? Visit the LCBO’s website for a list of guidelines to help you determine what you’ll need:
*The following amounts are recommended for stocking purposes only. They are not intended or recommended to serve as consumption guidelines.
Visit the LCBO’s website for delicious mocktail recipes for the non-drinkers at your party. You might find more volunteers to play designated driver with these drinks on hand.
Don’t let your guests drink on an empty stomach. Serve food throughout the night. Eating slows down the speed at which the body absorbs the alcohol. Offer snacks such as veggies, cheeses, sandwiches, breads and dips. Avoid salty, sweet or greasy foods, since they tend to make people thirstier.
For hundreds of great party recipes check out the “Food & Drink” website.
Special Occasion Permits
Need a Special Occasion Permit (SOP)? Download a copy of the registration form here or visit the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario's (AGCO) website at www.agco.on.ca.
Once you've completed the application form, take it to the designated permit-issuing LCBO store in the municipality where the event is to take place. To find a designated permit-issuing location you can:
- Ask LCBO store employees
- Call the LCBO infoline at 1-800-668-5226 (Toronto: 416 365-5900)
- Click here for a complete listing of LCBO stores issuing Special Occasion Permits
Applications for outdoor events must be submitted at least 30 days before the event. Applications for indoor receptions must be submitted at least 10 days in advance.
Problems With Alcohol
Think you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol? There are hundreds of online resources that can help. Here are a few: