The Morris Law Group

This Holiday Season Host Responsibly

Social host BLOG.jpgIt is not uncommon to eat, drink and be merry during the holiday season; however, it's important to take caution when getting into the holiday spirits. With all the festive cheer it's imperative not to lose sight of the responsibilities and potential liabilities you may face when holiday entertaining.

We tend to associate social host liability with commercial entities such as bars and restaurants, though the same risks apply for anyone inviting guests into their homes and serving alcohol. A social host can include anyone who is not selling or supplying alcohol for profit; is serving alcohol on the premises for which they are in control; or condones the consumption of alcohol on their property (for example guests bringing their own). Anyone assuming control of the premises, homeowner or renter, is responsible for the safety and well-being of people invited onto that premises.

A social host, may be liable if an intoxicated guest leaves their home and injures themselves or someone else. As the host you run the risk of being sued if you were aware that any of your guests were intoxicated and did nothing to prevent that guest from causing harm as the result of excessive consumption of alcohol.

The best course of action to diminish the risks of liability is to take preventative measures when hosting a party. Hosting responsibly includes the following:

  • Monitoring and supervising the service and consumption of alcohol during a party and limiting your own consumption to track that of the party guests;
  • Be aware of any changes in behavior of your guests that may be indicative of excessive alcohol consumption;
  • Consider hiring a bartender trained in alcohol service who can track guests' consumption;
  • Avoid self-serve bars;
  • Provide non-alcoholic drink options;
  • Ensure that food is also served - being wary of salty foods that encourage more drinking and sugary foods which do not mix well with alcohol, instead offer foods with protein;
  • Ensure that any guest who is intoxicated does not drive home; ask them to leave their keys and call them a cab or offer them a spare bed;
  • If the situation or guests are beyond your control, call the police.

Being a good host involves more than setting the perfect scene with festive décor, music and food; it also involves acting responsibly to ensure that your guests have a good time and remain free from any perils related to excessive alcohol consumption.

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