‘Tis the season: Party hosts should be aware of liability issues

people at a holiday party

With Thanksgiving in our rear view mirror, we enter the season of holiday parties. If you are planning to host parties at your home or business this season, it’s time to think about responsible party hosting practices. We’re revisiting a post we made a full decade ago on holiday party do’s and dont’s – despite, the passage of time, everything is still relevant today!

A national survey on homeowners insurance issues by Trusted Choice and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) found that about one-third of homeowners did not think or did not know if they could be held responsible in the event of an alcohol-related accident. In addition, more than 46% of the survey respondents thought they weren’t liable in the event that a guest became seriously ill from catered food consumed at the host’s home and more than 22% didn’t think they could be held responsible if a guest was injured on the sidewalk in front of their property. In fact, these are all situations in which a homeowner could have liability.

A spokesman for the IIABA suggest that homeowners regularly review their liability coverage limits with their independent agent to ensure adequate coverage, and that frequent party hosts inquire about an umbrella policy providing $1 million or more in additional coverage. IIABC also suggest the following holiday hosting tips for homeowners and business owners:

  • Limit your guest list to those you know.
  • Host your party at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license, rather in a home or office.
  • Provide filling food for guests and alternative non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Schedule entertainment or activities that do not involve alcohol. If the party centers around drinking, guests will likely drink more.
  • Arrange transportation or overnight accommodations for those who cannot or should not drive home.
  • Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end.
  • Do not serve guests who are visibly intoxicated.
  • Consider hiring an off-duty police officer to discretely monitor guests’ sobriety or handle any alcohol-related problems as guests leave.
  • Stay alert, always remembering your responsibilities as a host.
  • Review your insurance policy with your agent before the event to ensure that you have the proper liability coverage.

Tips for Building a Super Bowl Snack Stadium & Hosting a Safe Party

Good news sports fans. We have detailed instructiond on how to build your own Super Bowl snack stadium. OK, it’s a little ambitious, and the teams will change from year to year — but it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a big hit!


While it’s great to host a fun party, it’s also smart to consider ways to ensure that your guests will be safe and you can avoid any host liability. The Insurance Information Institute explains:

Social host liability, also known as “Dram Shop Liability” laws vary widely from state to state, but 43 states have them on the books. Most of these laws also offer an injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, a method to sue the person who served the alcohol. There are circumstances under these laws where criminal charges may also apply.

At the link above, you can find some tips to promote safe alcohol consumption and reduce your social host liability exposure.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these tips for party-goers and hosts:

Whether attending the game, watching at a sports bar or hosting a party, NHTSA reminds everyone that Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk. Before choosing to drink, choose your team’s MVP – a sober designated driver. NHTSA offers these additional safety tips:

  • Designate your sober driver or have an alternate transportation plan before the party begins.
  • If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend or family member to come and get you; or just stay where you are until you are sober.
  • Use your community’s sober ride program.
  • Never let friends leave your sight if you think they are about to drive and have had too much to drink.
  • Always buckle up – it’s still your best defense against other drunk drivers.

If you are hosting a Super Bowl party:

Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in a drunk-driving crash.

  • Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers in advance, or help arrange alternate transportation.
  • Serve lots of food and include lots of non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
  • Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter of the game and begin serving coffee and dessert.
  • Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who has had too much to drink.

Super Bowl replicas from deli meats & Twinkies & other good party ideas

Looking for some last minute ideas to wow your Super Bowl party guests on Sunday? Why not try your hand at creating a Super Bowl stadium replica from deli meats or from Twinkies?

If food platter architecture is a little more than you feel you can tackle (ahem), maybe you might consider something along the lines of a Super Bowl themed cakes, cookies or sandwiches. Also check the Food Network’s Big Game Bash page and Winning Super Bowl Recipes from AllYou. We particularly like the look of these football shaped peanut butter swirl brownies.

Have fun, but remember – Super Bowl Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk

Everyone loves a party, but don’t let fun run away with you. Our best party tip is to remind you that it’s important to be responsible hosts so that you or your guests don’t end up in the local headlines on the day after. Rest assured, law enforcement and DUI patrols will be doing double duty to catch impaired drivers. And if you are a party host, you may have liability if your guests drink and drive.

The NFL, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and other groups have all teamed up to raise awareness about drunk driving in a Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk campaign. Safety tips and advice for hosting parties, planning for designated drivers, and more can be found at the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers.