Tips for Responsible Hosting

Did you know that you can be held responsible for what happens to your guests while they are in your home, on your property or at any function or party you organize, regardless of the location?

As well, when you entertain and are in charge of the premises and who attends, you are responsible for taking steps to protect all your guests from harm, including those who may be impaired or intoxicated. This means ensuring the location is safe for all guests, protecting them from risk of injury others may pose, and ensuring that activities taking place at the event don't pose a risk of injury.

Exercise caution and follow these tips to help keep things safer once the party's started:

Be the Host with the Most

Plan to drink minimally or not at all. You'll be better able to avoid potential problems if you can think clearly and act quickly. If someone is drinking too much, engage them in conversation, offer snacks and a non-alcoholic drink.

Do I need a Liquor License?

A Special Event is a license issued for not-for-profit special occasions, such as weddings, banquets, club functions and community festivals where alcohol will be served or sold. If you or your organization plan to serve alcohol at an event in a public place (i.e. any place other than a personal residence, that could draw the attention of the public), or sell alcohol at an event held in any location, you need a Special Event License  For more information visit our Apply for a Liquor License page.

Treat Alcohol With Respect

Alcohol produces a wide range of physical and mental effects that vary from one individual to another. Even at low levels, it may affect perception, judgment, coordination and decision-making long before there are obvious signs of impairment.

Designate Drivers

Before the party gets going, it's important to make sure all your guests have planned for a safe trip home. Know who the designated drivers will be. Then, serve them accordingly—that means no alcohol whatsoever.

Take the Fizz Out

If you serve an alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base, such as fruit juice. The body absorbs alcohol faster when mixed with carbonation, as in mixed drinks with carbonated mixes or sparkling wines.

Measuring Up

Mix and serve drinks yourself or appoint a trustworthy bartender rather than letting guests serve themselves. Be sure to measure drinks and avoid serving doubles or shots. Don’t refill glasses readily. Never let children serve or consume alcohol.

A Drink is a Drink

Despite appearances, a standard serving of beer, wine or spirits each contains an equal amount of absolute alcohol. That means a 12 oz beer (5% alcohol per volume, a 5 oz glass of wine (12% alc./vol.) and a 1 oz serving of spirits (40% alc./vol.) are all equal in alcohol content. Use a shot glass to measure drinks. Guessing can lead to excessive consumption.

No Means No

Never make drinking the focus of your event or force drinks on your guests. If someone says no to a drink, be sure to offer them non-alcoholic alternatives or mocktails. Also, do not force abstainers to make a public statement by serving alcohol in one type of glass and soft drinks in another. Plan on providing plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverages. Guests may also appreciate you including low-alcohol beers and wines in your bar.

Serve Food

Alcohol is generally absorbed into the bloodstream faster on an empty stomach, while food in the stomach tends to slow down the absorption of alcohol. If you serve alcohol, always have plenty of easily accessible food on hand. If you’re not serving a meal, have plenty of high-protein and carbohydrate foods available, such as cheese, meats, unsalted chips, crackers, nuts and bread. High-moisture content foods, such as raw vegetables and fruits, with low-calorie dips are also good choices. Avoid salty and greasy snacks, which tend to make people thirstier.

A Bad Mix

Never serve alcohol to minors. Nor should you plan strenuous activities or sports when you’re serving alcohol. People may be more prone to accidents when they’ve been drinking.

Last Call

Never serve guests to the point of intoxication. Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before the end of the party. Close down the bar and make the transition by serving enticing desserts and coffee or other non-alcoholic drinks.

Happy Trails

Be prepared to arrange rides for guests with sober drivers, drive them yourself, or provide taxi fare. Be sure to have taxi numbers ready in advance. Never, ever let anyone who's been drinking get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Check it Out

Check on your home insurance policy’s third-party liability coverage. Contact your insurance provider to help you understand your risks and responsibilities as a host and minimize potential problems. Following the advice of your insurer can help you ensure a safe and entertaining event for you and your guests.


The above information was generously provided to us by BC Liquor Stores.

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