Mom’s Doing the Tootsie Roll: How To Hold Your Liquor This Holiday Season

December 21, 2011  |  
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If your family is anything like mine, by the time the holidays are over you’ve had your full share of drama and drunkenness.  Let’s be honest, as much as we all would like to take the lyrics straight out of the famed Donny Hathaway classic, after a few cocktails your relatives may be doing a lot more cussing than caroling and you might see more flying fists than shaking hands.  No need to be ashamed; even Clark Griswold had his share of unruly relatives and holiday foolishness.  By planning ahead this holiday and setting rules in place, you may be able to keep rowdy relatives on their best behavior so that they can actually enjoy the family reunion instead of merely surviving it.

1.  Set a liquor limit for yourself and your company.

You can be a good host without stocking your kitchen like the local beer distributor.  Keeping a case of beer, a few bottles of wine and a bottle or two of hard liquor for mixed drinks should be enough to keep your company satisfied without having to worry about breaking up bar fights in the middle of your dining room.  It’s harder for your guests to become heavily inebriated when there’s a limited supply of alcohol out for the taking.

If you’re the guest, limit yourself to one drink per hour since that’s the amount of alcohol an average liver can process in that time.  Alcohol can seem harmless
when you’re feeling fine after downing a few cocktails within a matter of minutes, but it may sneak up on you and have you looking a mess in front of company: Not a great impression if you’re meeting your man’s family for the first time.

2.  Don’t argue with your drunken uncle.

The holidays are no time to rehash childhood issues or past resentment, especially when children are present.  For these few special days, sweep those issues under the rug with the pine needles. Unfortunately, you may have the uncle who has had more than a “taste” before he comes decking the halls of your house with a hidden grudge.  Do your best to avoid confrontation and kindly escort guests who can’t get with the holiday cheer to the door.  Don’t fuel the situation by feeding into someone’s drunken rage.  If you know anything about a drunk person, that’s an argument you just won’t win.

 3.   Have a dry holiday.

As much as many cultures like to associate alcohol with family gatherings and celebrations, the truth is, you can have a whole lot of fun without it.  If liquor and lashing out go hand in hand with your family gatherings, try having a dry holiday. Get creative with this quality time by serving fun virgin-cocktails and playing board games (aka, Dominoes and spades) or having other fun family competitions.  There’s something genuinely sentimental about family stories and childhood memories when everyone is completely sober.


4.  Save the shots for the club.

If you prefer to have some liquor available to those who can handle it, save the shots for the club and stick to light wines and champagnes which tend to have less alcohol per serving for family gatherings.

5.  Have a second helping.

Make sure you and all of your relatives have a second helping of mac and cheese, turkey and stuffing.  It’s common knowledge that eating a good amount of food prior to drinking buys your body some time before becoming intoxicated.  The food sitting in your stomach absorbs the alcohol you consume before it finds its way to your bloodstream.  Stick to foods that are high in fat and protein which fortunately are lots of our holiday faves like meat and bread.  Keep snacks available like pretzels and chips; if Cousin Craig has a handful of pretzels, it’s less likely he’ll have a beer in it at the same time. Plus it’s easy to fill up on snacks which may help with the absorption.

6.  Pop the tops on the Fiji.

In the event you find yourself catching a buzz earlier in the evening than you expected, chase your drink with some good old H2O.  Water works as a natural diluter, so have a helping in between drinks.  Water is good for filling up your stomach, which may prevent you from wanting to have another round.  Try not to follow drinks with carbonated beverages, which in fact may speed up your body’s absorption of the alcohol.  Water will also lessen your chances of waking up with a hangover headache since it keeps your system hydrated.

7.  Set a curfew.

If any major alcohol-influenced arguments do pop off, it will most likely be later in the evening when everyone is good and inebriated.  For this reason, it may help to set a curfew for your guests.  As much as we would like to spend as much time with our families as we can, this isn’t always realistic in a household of diverse and conflicting personalities and unresolved issues.  Oh yeah, and when you have a house full of kids who need to go to bed but can’t because your intoxicated siblings want to do the Cupid Shuffle “one mo gin.” Give your guests enough time for some good eating and catching up.  There’s nothing wrong with kindly telling your guests you’re wrapping up for the evening.

8.  Consider venues for parties other than your home.

By holding a gathering at a venue other than the home you reside in, not only do you relinquish your liability in case anything goes drastically wrong, but you may also save a lot of your personal belongings that may get damaged in case anyone chooses to act the fool after too much booze.  This is especially worth considering if you have a fairly large family.  It may also be helpful to hire a bartender come in if you have to have a soiree at your own digs.  A bartender should be trained to recognize the signs of intoxication and can refuse to serve relatives who have clearly had one too many without them taking it personally.

9.  Keys, please.

If  you survived the night only to find that a few family members had a bit too much fun and can’t drive home, kindly take their keys and don’t take “No, ” for an answer.  Tis’ the season to not catch an involuntary manslaughter case and to keep your family as well as anyone else safe from harm.  Call a cab or set up a nice spot for them to sleep off the rest of the night–on the floor.

Happy Holidays!  I wish you all happy, safe, drama-free celebrations!

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