How to Drink at a Holiday Party

Hey! It's December and that means it's time to CELEBRATE. If your celebrations are anything like mine that means that there is occasionally alcohol at them. Did I say "occasionally alcohol"? I meant "often wine." But if you were hoping for a list of tasting notes I'm sorry to disappoint! This how to guide is a little less "how to indulge" and a lot more "how am I going to manage my health risks since I'm for sure having some wine" Its a practical conversation that often gets over looked. And while most of us know that alcoholic beverages are not health tonics **spoiler alert** alcoholic drinks are not health tonics, it's hard to keep things in "moderation" when you have no objective information as to what moderation even means! So here is my guide on how to drink at a holiday party, while minimizing your health risks from alcohol, and still having a good time.


The first thing is you have to do your homework and understand what moderation *actually* is. For men, the Canadian recommendations for harm reduction are a maximum of 15 standard drinks per week, with no more than 4 drinks on one occasion. For women the recommendations are slightly lower at 10 and 3. While 3-4 drinks is nothing to shake a stick at if you start early (Hello coffee and Baileys!) or go late, (Hello, coffee and Baileys? Again?) it can be easy to slip past these harm-reduction guidelines. So here are my real-life party guidelines for having a good time and staying safe. 

Pre-Party Drinks

When your looking to be responsible about drinking it’s best to pass on the drink before you even leave the house. Yes having a beer while you wait for your partner to get ready seems like a great idea or maybe you want a glass of wine while you are doing your hair but when striving for moderation save your drinks for the main event.

Cocktail Hour

If you’d like a spirit, have one! But make sure it’s a measured drink. For spirits, 1.5oz counts as one drink. It doesn’t really matter if you’d rather sip a gin martini or mix it with tonic as long as it’s 1.5oz of booze it counts the same. Sometime people reccommend mixed drinks over straight spirits because if it takes you longer to drink a higher volume you are less likely to drink more over time. I think thats pretty terrible advice though as I know lots of people that drink a GandT way faster than a 1.5oz martini! In the end, as long as it's measured, it's the same amount of alcohol. If you finish your drink and cocktails are still flowing, choose an alcohol free option. Filling your rock glass with tonic water and a lime is a great way enjoy the ambiance with out the alcohol. Also sparkling water is a festive choice. 


If you are sitting down to dinner there may be wine or beer offered with the meal. Again, if you would like to partake, enjoy, but best to keep track of how much you are drinking. One standard drink of wine is 5oz, which if you measure at home, you may find to be quite a bit smaller than your standard pour. Also be careful of the top ups! Some hosts consider it a personal mission to stop wine glasses from ever becoming empty, but this makes it impossible to know exactly how much you've consumed. Be on guard and don’t let an over zealous host happen to you! Decline any refills to your wine glass until it is truly empty - otherwise you will have no idea how many glasses you’ve really had.

If you are drinking beer, be aware that serving size depends on how much alcohol is in your beer. A serving of regular beer (5% alcohol) is 12 oz (a bottle), where as a strong beer (7%) counts as a serving at only 9 oz, less than a full bottle. Choosing lower alcohol choices in both size of drink and % alcohol can be helpful to keep drinking within moderation guidelines. 

Dessert / After Dinner Drinks

Depending on the party, the drinks may not end with dinner. There may be a digestif or special after dinner drink. People may just still be enjoying wine or beer. Remember to alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic drink choices and consider choosing an after-dinner coffee or tea instead. 


This is an obvious but important point. If you are going to enjoy a few drinks (even in moderation!) it is imperative that you DO NOT DRIVE. Drinking moderately is not the same as safe to drive and it’s important not to confuse the two. 


Seem like too much to ask? If you would like help cutting back your drinking find out how naturopathic medicine can support you! Book your complimentary consultation today.