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Have a Cup of Cheer... But Consider Making It a Mocktail

This holiday season, employers should be mindful of the impacts of alcohol consumption at office celebrations

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Written by David Shapiro on December 13, 2022

“Have a holly, jolly Christmas; It’s the best time of the year. I don’t know if there’ll be snow but have a cup of cheer.”

While many of us look forward to holiday celebrations, it is also a time in the year when people are more likely to drink beyond their limit. That “cup of cheer” seems to be offered everywhere and it can be hard to pass up. Workplace holiday parties are a fun way to show appreciation to your employees for their dedication and hard work. However, they can also expose bad behavior resulting from alcohol consumption, including injuries caused by driving under the influence.

For many companies, this December will be the first time since 2019 that employees will come together for an in-person holiday party. More employees may be dealing with alcohol addiction than in years past. Employers should be mindful of employees who are in recovery or trying to cut back on their alcohol consumption.

As an employer, consider how and why you may be serving alcohol at your upcoming event. Is this the year to consider a sober celebration? Achieving a sober holiday can be a struggle, but it is not impossible.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offers the following suggestions for employers to consider:

  • Offer a variety of “mocktails” and alcohol-free drinks. Alcohol-free drinks help counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol. They also provide your guests with alternatives to alcohol.
  • Provide a variety of healthy foods and snacks. Food can slow the absorption of alcohol and reduce the peak level of alcohol in the body by about one-third. Food can also minimize stomach irritation and gastrointestinal distress the following day.
  • Help your guests get home safely. Anyone getting behind the wheel of a car should not have ingested any alcohol. Use and promote designated drivers and taxis/rideshare services.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers these tips for individuals to enjoy a safe holiday season:

  • Abstain. You do not need alcohol to enjoy a party.
  • Pace yourself. Avoid binge-drinking and spread out the consumption of your drinks. Try to only consume one drink per hour. CDC’s Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol defines moderate drinking as one drink or less in a day for women, and two drinks or less in a day for men.
  • Use non-alcoholic drink spacers. Consider drinking water between each alcoholic beverage to ensure that you do not overindulge.
  • If your celebration includes alcohol consumption, do not drive. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 40 percent of traffic fatalities during the holidays involve a driver who is impaired by alcohol, compared to 28 percent for the rest of the year.

So, think about what you offer in that “cup of cheer” this year, there are many ways to celebrate.

Learn more at Colorado’s Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative.