chavisory answered: If you’re having wine, have some soda or cider too in case there are people who avoid alcohol. Hard cider is also a nice alternative to beer

realsocialskills said:

That’s an important point. If you’re having a gathering that includes alcohol, it’s important to have non-alcoholic drinks too. 

A lot of people avoid alcohol for various reasons, and you don’t always know who they are.

And even people who drink often find it easier to avoid drinking too much if there are non-alcoholics drinks available.

Also, consider who you are inviting when you’re deciding whether to have alcohol. If you’re inviting people who tend to be really obnoxious when they’re drunk, it might be better to stick with soft drinks.

lady-brain said:

I would suggest, if you are a host, letting all invitees know ahead of time explicitly whether or not there will be alcohol (or drugs, or anything else people might want to avoid or be forewarned about) at your event.

I’m a sober alcoholic, I appreciate knowing whether there will be alcohol so I can make the decision whether or not I am able to attend the event. I understand when people require alcohol/other substances to socialize/feel safe (especially since I used it for anxiety myself), so I know that not all my spaces can be alcohol-free, and I don’t require that. What I do require is a heads-up, because I am not comfortable around alcohol all the time, around all people, in all locations. It depends, and I need to make the call myself. I can’t do that if I don’t have that information.

realsocialskills said:

I agree this is an important thing to do, but I don’t know of a polite way to do it. Do you know of one?

aura218 said:

I’m in recovery. I usually blame not drinking on “a bad stomach” or “It interferes with my medication” or “I don’t want to drink or an empty stomach” or “I exercised today, I really need to hydrate.” 

Remember that having a drink in your hand makes you appear social, so just holding soda will ward off anyone asking why you’re not drinking. You don’t have to keep drinking it and filling it up. Also, bottles of water, coffee, and tea are a socially acceptable alternative; water is healthy, and coffee or tea can be explained as you being tired and needing to perk up to socialize, since alcohol makes you sleepy.

If you’re driving, you always have that out. If you’re a woman, you can always say “I’m leaving soon, I want to be alert to walk to the subway” and who cares if you’e not leaving for an hour. IF anyone says “I thought you were going,” you can always say “I thought i was, but I’m having such a great time!”

But really, you don’t need to explain why you’re not drinking. Just, “I’ll have a soda/water/coffee, thanks” should be reason enough (and remember you don’t have to drink it, just hold it). No one needs to know your medical history and it’s rude to insult the drinks that the host chose, so no one expects you to overexplain why you aren’t drinking. “I don’t want to drink tonight” is fine.

realsocialskills said:

I absolutely agree that no one has to explain to anyone else why they aren’t drinking. What I meant is that I don’t know how to politely warn people that there will be alcohol at a party.

Those sound like good suggestions for deflecting pushy people though.

The one I’m a bit hesitant about is saying that you want to be alert to walk to the subway, though. Because then what do you do if a guy who is giving off creepy vibes says “Don’t worry about that, I’ll walk with you?” It strikes me as likely to open the can of worms rather than close it. Have you used this one successfully?

aura218 said:

Sorry, yeah, I just woke up when I replied to this, and I didn’t realize til later that the question was for the party HOST, not the party guest. 

I’ve used this one successfully with friendly people who agree that drinking isn’t a good thing to do near the end of the night if you’re leaving soon. I don’t have the kind of friends who creep on me, and I don’t talk loudly to announce my issues to the whole party. Always protect your privacy - my responses were intended for the person who’s pouring your drink. 

I wouldn’t broadcast that I’m walking home alone on dark scary streets to someone who is giving off creepy vibes. If someone seems that way to me, I either don’t talk to them, or I get away from them. I don’t have a problem being a bitch to someone I think isn’t worth my time, but other people aren’t like that.

As for the original question, it depends on the party, and other people have given good responses. Most parties and dinners are assumed to have a mix of alcohol and soft drinks. The only good way I can think of to warn people is to say something like “Drinks and appetizers will be served at x o’clock.” Or talking about the menu in general and including the drinks as well as the food.

realsocialskills said:

I think that’s my concern about explicitly stating that there will be alcohol. The presence of alcohol at adult gatherings is so assumed that saying that there will be alcohol implies that there will be *more* alcohol than usual.

This is not a message you want to send unless you really are trying to have that kind of party. Especially if your social group has one of those guys who is really into getting people to do shots with him. (I’m not sure why, but a lot of social group seem to have someone like that.)

rollerderbyandotherheartbreakers said:

I think it really depends on how much drinking is going to factor into the party. Is it a “living room” event or is it a backyard-with-a-keg type event. Either one can just be told upfront:

“We’ll have some beer & wine, and soft drinks, but please feel free to BYOB”


“We will have a cash bar for alcoholic drinks, non-alcoholic drinks are free" 

If you don’t want to drink you can also tell them something vague about “a cleanse” or how it doesn’t fit with your athletic/health goals. I frequently go for long periods of time without drinking and people are very accepting of this as a reason (it is a true reason for me, but feel free to lie as well). Example of when offered a drink: “No thanks! I would love to but I am working on getting a better 5K run time and I just find that drinking makes me really sluggish for my running. We’ll get together for a drink soon though!” 

if you want to have an alcohol-free event with friends that normally drink, then tell them explicitly in the invitation - “hey guys! I am having a get together, but want to keep it alcohol-free [insert reason here  ONLY if you want]. I am going to have some really great punch recipes made, and if you want to bring an alcohol-free drink to try I would be really into it! Please let me know if you have any questions”.

And leave it at that - if guests or hosts harass you about drinking alcohol stop talking to them and hang out with someone else at the party. Or leave the party and stop going to parties at that person’s house in the future.