Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How do we curb "over indulgence" at our next event?

What do you do about Uncle Joe?

We all have an “Uncle Joe” …you know, the relative that tends to over-indulge at family events and before you know it, the pants are off and they are leading the audience in the chicken dance.

What can you do, or more importantly, what strategies can you incorporate, to keep individuals from over-indulging at your next event?

The most obvious solution is to exclude them from the guest list. In other words, don’t invite them. This solution is fraught with problems right out of the gate. If you don’t invite them, someone is going to be upset and hurt and the ripple effect will cause others to be upset and hurt. Not a good way to start.

Whew! We avoided that potential family conflict. So, we have decided to keep Uncle Joe on the guest list, now what are we going to do to ensure that he doesn’t drink too much and embarrass himself and others, take his pants off and/or play “pull my finger” with your boss?

Here are a few tips:

  • Shorten the cocktail reception. By having a shorter cocktail reception, you are reducing the time for individuals like “Uncle Joe” to power drink
  • Reduce the bar hours. Close the bar during the meal service
  • Compromise on the open bar concept by having a “toonie” bar ($2). The thinking behind this is that if individuals have to pay for their drinks, they will consume less. A “toonie” is not a lot of money, but it does create a small stumbling block. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can always have a sign that states that the proceeds from the bar are going to a non-profit
  • Serve food at your cocktail reception. Food slows the absorption of alcohol
  • Don’t put wine on the tables! Not only is having open wine on tables wasteful (often the guests favour red over white or vice versa) it encourages over-consumption. By having servers coming around to each table offering to refill glasses, there is greater control.
  • Talk to your bartender and servers about the potential for over indulgence and come up with a plan to deal with the possibility. Bartenders and servers have legal responsibilities when serving alcohol.
  • Diversion tactics! Separate Uncle Joe from the bar by engaging him in conversation or dancing
  • Serve a “midnight lunch”. When serving alcohol, a midnight lunch is a must! A midnight lunch is a late evening snack often consisting of cold cuts, pickles and buns, veggies and dip, etc. Once again…food slows the absorption of alcohol.

If all else fails and Uncle Joe has over-indulged……..

  • Create a security team. Your security team is a group of friends or family that can swoop in and assist in putting Uncle Joe’s pants back on and escorting him out of the reception hall before he starts the chicken dance.
  • Take his keys! Make sure that Uncle Joe does NOT attempt to drive himself or others home. The greatest gift you can give your guests is the offer of a safe ride home. There are organizations in each community who can provide this service at a nominal fee.

I have been referencing a family event such as wedding, but the same rules apply at a corporate event. Over drinking at an office function or corporate event is a no-no…nothing good can come of it. Uncle Joe may lose the respect of his family and be the subject of conversation for the next few days, but if someone over-indulges at an office function, they may lose their job.

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