WDHB urges caution during the Christmas party season

3 December 2015

The Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) is urging Christmas party hosts to consider the safety and wellbeing of their guests and themselves while celebrating in the lead-up to Christmas.
WDHB health promoter for alcohol and other drugs Chester Penaflor says this is particularly important where alcohol is being supplied and consumed. 
Keen to share ideas that will help make sure staff and client functions are remembered by guests and organisers for all the right reasons, Mr Penaflor suggests the following:
  • Provide non-alcoholic drink choices so people don’t feel obliged to drink alcohol.Provide substantial finger food such as savouries and sandwiches to slow down the effects of intoxication. Light snacks such as chippies and peanuts are unlikely to do this.
  • Try and organise somebody to pour the drinks where possible. People can be heavy-handed when pouring their own drinks. Having a responsible person working the bar or in control of the serving of alcohol can slow people’s consumption; 
  • Have plenty of activities such as dancing and games to help take the focus off drinking; 
  • Organise a designated sober driver to take people home or encourage people to take a taxi to and from the party. 

Mr Penaflor says driving considerations are especially important. On 1 December 2014, the breath alcohol concentration for driving was reduced to 250 mcg for those over 20 years of age making legal drink driving levels a lot lower than they once were. 
“The WDHB wants to reinforce the message that there is no 'safe' amount of alcohol to drink before driving,’ Mr Penaflor says.  “Because alcohol affects everyone differently, it’s not worth the risk.”
“Another point to remember is to be very careful when providing alcohol to those under 18 attending a party whether it’s at a private dwelling or a workplace. A law change in late 2013 insists that providing alcohol to someone who’s not yet 18 requires the supplier to obtain express consent from that person’s parent or guardian.”
Mr Penaflor says following these suggestions when planning Christmas parties will help ensure everyone involved can enjoy themselves while staying safe and well at the same time. 
Further information or guides for planning functions can be obtained through the Whanganui Public Health Centre on 3481 775.