Alcohol and New Year's Eve celebrations do not automatically go hand in hand. The fact that there are other options readily available is the message addictions specialists want to share with those planning to host or attend a holiday event
"It is up to the host to decide what type of event to plan for New Year's Eve, one where alcohol will be served or where it will not be made available," said Wesley Howsare of Crossroads Counseling Services. "If a host decides to include alcohol in plan, it is important to make guests who do not choose to drink just as comfortable with their individual choice as are guests consuming alcohol."
Asking a person to explain their reasons for not drinking alcohol is something that should never happen, but does.
Choosing not to drink alcohol at a party or gathering is a very personal decision, and is one people can come to for a wide variety of reasons, apart or in addition to alcoholism, say addiction specialists.
" Individuals with health concerns such as diabetes and/or obesity often choose not to drink alcoholic beverages as they are usually packed with calories that do nothing to help the body function in a healthy way," he said, noting having non-alcoholic options can go a long way toward helping the now non-drinking person feel comfortable. "Making sure no guest is pressured into feeling they have to drink alcohol while attending your party is an important step to take, and one a host should make sure their guests are aware of as well as those who might be pouring the drinks."
When serving foods or any drinks with alcohol in them make sure guests know in advance which contain alcohol and which do not.
"Many of the traditional holiday season desserts have been soaked in liquor, or contain some that was never intended to burn off," offered an associate from Alcoholics Anonymous with 20 years of sobriety.
"Having juices, sodas, flavored waters, coffee and this kind of thing available for non-drinking guests is a great way to make everyone able to relax and enjoy the event," said the AA representative.
Responsible hosts should also plan to have food available for guests, as food does cause alcohol to be digested at a slower pace, which is a good thing.
"People also need to remember that consuming foods while consuming alcohol has absolutely no effect on how fast it leaves your system," he explained.
Some foods are better choices for such events.
"Serving high protein foods like cheese and meats do help slow the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream as they stay in the stomach longer," said Howsare.
Experts also recommend hosts stop serving alcohol two hours before the party is over, but continue to serve non-alcoholic drinks and foods.
"It is important to remember that there is no truth to the idea that coffee can sober up a person who has been drinking alcohol. Only time can do that," Howsare noted.
Do not let guests who have been drinking alcohol get behind the wheel. This is not a point to take lightly as nearly 40 percent of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol consumption, and even one drink can affect driving skills, say national safety experts.
Under today's laws hosts serving alcohol at parties are increasingly being held responsible for actions of an intoxicated driver who was their guest.
Prior to the event gather together phone numbers for local cab companies or sponsored new year's eve designated driver programs.
When your guests arrive, find out who their designated driver for the evening will be and make sure they are connected to all the non-alcoholic refreshments being offered.
Some fun party idea tips to consider regardless the age of your guests: