Don't force-drunk your friends: Let them spike their own punch

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Amy

New Year's Eve fast approaches. Here's an awesome suggestion for a party drinking solution.

Offbeat Home editor Megan did this at her Shark Attackiversary, and it was a big hit with those on and off the wagon. (Photo by: – )

At our annual Yuletide party we serve a big bowl of non-alcoholic punch (ginger ale, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and frozen cranberries) with a big bottle of vodka next to it.

That way those who want boozey punch can make their own punch boozey and those who don't have a delicious refreshment available sans alcohol.

How do you make sure YOUR guests don't get too wastey-faced? Or strike a balance between the drinkers and the non-drinkers?

  1. Our parties are always BYOB. At New Year's, I buy bubbly to share with those who want it, but on the invites I tell folks to bring "Preferred beverages, adult or otherwise." Simple, cheap for the host, and everyone has what makes them comfortable. I do like the idea of making booze-optional punch, though!

  2. This is what we did for our wedding too. There were a lot of kids, so we served lemonade and iced tea in drink dispensers with raspberry vodka on the side to add if you wanted.

  3. I did this for the first time at our last Shark Attackiversary party, because I had some people in AA attending the party, and I wanted them to get in on the themed drinks. So I served our "chum lemonade" (lemonade with frozen strawberries) next to a bottle of vodka. It was awesome.

  4. Great idea! One of my friends did this with a bottle of spiced rum next to a pot of hot apple cider. You could fancy it up by pouring it in a crystal or "crystal" container and also maybe have a measuring device handy like a jigger or extra shot glass.

  5. I agree this is a very nice way to serve at a party. My husband and I very rarely have anything to drink and because of that we are serious light weighs when it comes to alcohol, I really appreciate being given the option.

  6. We've always done this at our parties.
    My experience with BYOB is that no one ever brings enough mixer, so having add-yer-own-booze punch on hand keeps the party going (and helps keep it from going out of hand).
    Even people drinking beer or wine usually appreciate a non-alcoholic option to keep themselves hydrated between drinks.

  7. Great idea (esp as I am pregnant atm 😉 ).
    Could anyone share nice alcohol-free punch recipes? (including some kind of proportions to get started!)

  8. Ugh, just be careful that you don't have anyone at your party who WANTS everyone to get drunk for some reason. One of my friends always tries to sneak alcohol into the rest of our drinks, because we're lightweights and know it and don't really like to drink much, and she thinks it's hysterical. So then we're stuck with alcoholic punch that half of us don't want to drink. Just be wary of these folks, since it surprised me that she would be that inconsiderate.

    • Why are people so uncomfortable around others who don't drink? I rarely drink but don't have a problem with those who do. However, when I refuse an alcoholic drink, many people are unable to accept it. They seem hurt. It's okay! I just want a diet Coke.

      • I feel like the older I get, the less this is an issue, even in a crowd where most people drink frequently. Maybe after 30 nobody will care at all, haha. (Unless you are recently married and female, and then people assume you are pregnant.)

        Or maybe it's a defensive "I don't want you the sober person to be annoyed with all the drunk people around you?"

        But that's why ideas like Amy's are awesome because nobody is keeping as close of tabs on what you are or aren't drinking when you can serve yourself.

        • or you get to the point when people just know that's how you roll, more so than age

          Not drinking much is inconvenient for a round system, I usually try not to be part of that… or at a restaurant where we split the bill evenly and I'm subsidising other people's boozing (yes that does make me a little resentful)

          • Yesh, I love my alcoholic beverages, but I don't often get a drink with dinner because it's so expensive in a restaurant. I'd rather save my money and buy a nicer bottle of wine to have at home.

            Maybe suggest going to BYO places with your friends so alcohol isn't part of the bill?

  9. On the flippity flop, does anyone have any experience with this sort of thing resulting in folks drinking more?
    We usually make punch at parties to stretch our liquor and to ensure that everyone who over-drinks is at least punished with having to pee a lot. I've thought of doing this, but I've always hesitated. Am I totally wrong?

    • Drinking more can totally be a problem. For us, it has especially been an issue with out of town guests who ignore our warnings about alcohol at high altitude.

      If the party is small enough, we try to serve the drinks ourselves and just ask if they want with alcohol or without. I've wondered about tying some kind of measuring device around the bottles, but never have tried it out. It can even be an issue with folks who don't want to drink lots, but aren't paying attention to how much alcohol they are pouring in, because they are talking at the same time, or already tipsy.

      Our favorite mocktail recently, by the way: a really strong ginger beer (we like Reed's Extra Ginger Brew) mixed with lemonade (we like Simply Lemonade). My friends like it half and half; I prefer 3 parts ginger beer to 1 part lemonade. Tastes great with a shot of rum or vodka as well.

    • You're not totally wrong.

      We used to do this sometimes in college except the "punch" was literally contentrated Hawaiian punch mix ( yeah yeah I know — but it was cheap). We didn't pre-mix it partly because we were lazy ( Solo doesn't make a punch bowl, ya'll ) and partly because some people actually turned their noses up at it ( imagine! ). At that time getting drunk was the reason for the party so we didn't mind if people made their drinks strong — and they did. ( Also parties were at least semi-BYOB. )

      The good news is that peer pressure changes when you get older. Now throwing up in your host's planter is a bad thing. The bad news is that yeah people are going to make them as strong as they like.

    • As I mentioned, I did this trick for the first time this year at our 6th Attackiversary party, and I feel like this was the year that people got LESS drunk and sloppy. I think that the act of dishing out your own alcohol made people actively think about how much they were drinking.

  10. We did something like this. At our wedding the bar was beer, wine and ginger beer. But we seeded the crowd with 20ish flasks of hard alcohol (mostly bourbon). Our friends could drink what they wanted, our family didn't get trashed, and "booze quest 2011" forced guests to talk to one another. It worked out great!

  11. One of my besties did this for the eggnog at her Yule party, and it was awesome (including the option as to what you wanted to spike it with.)

    I remeber family parties where there were spiked and non-spiked punch bowls, in matching colors so nobody would feel weird about what they were drinking. (okay, this might have led to a few kids sneaking some spiked punch occasionally, so not a perfect solution.)

    I have to say that if I had a friend of the sort mentioned above that would think it is funny to spike the non-alcoholic punch, I would never, ever invite them to a party again. People have a lot of reasons to not want to drink, including not only teetotalers but people who would get sick and also Designated Drivers. As pranks go, it's both mean and dangerous.

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