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Cheers to Family Time: Tips for Serving Alcohol at Gatherings in BC

Family gatherings such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, retirements, and memorial receptions are a great time to catch up with loved ones, share stories, and enjoy each other’s company. For many people, alcohol is also a part of the celebration. While it is pleasant to let loose and enjoy a few drinks with family and friends, it is important to do so responsibly.

In this article, we will discuss how to serve alcohol at family gatherings in British Columbia, including understanding the laws and regulations, applying for a special event permit, choosing the right drinks, and ensuring the safety of your guests.

Understanding the laws and regulations in British Columbia 

British Columbia has strict laws and regulations surrounding the sale and consumption of alcohol. The legal drinking age is nineteen, and it is illegal to sell or supply alcohol to anyone under that age. It is also illegal to serve alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated, and there are strict penalties for doing so. As a host, it is your responsibility to ensure that your guests are drinking responsibly, and to take appropriate action if someone becomes too drunk –more on that below.

In addition to these laws, there are also regulations surrounding where and when alcohol can be served. For example, it is illegal to serve alcohol in a public place without a Special Event Permit, and there are restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol in parks and other outdoor spaces. It is important to familiarize yourself with these laws and regulations before hosting a family gathering where alcohol will be served.

Considerations for hosting a special event with alcohol

If you are planning a special event where alcohol will be served, such as a wedding or anniversary celebration, there are additional considerations to keep in mind. Primarily, you will need to apply for a special event permit from the British Columbia Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. This permit will allow you to serve alcohol at your event, but it comes with certain restrictions, such as limits on the amount of alcohol that can be served, and requirements for security and insurance.

You will also need to consider the logistics of serving alcohol at your event. Will you be providing the alcohol yourself, or hiring a catering service or bartender? If you are providing the alcohol, you will need to purchase it in advance and have a plan for transporting and storing it. If you are hiring a service, make sure to choose a reputable company with experience serving alcohol at events similar to yours.

Though you can serve liquor without a permit in a private residence, including common rooms in a strata complex, you cannot sell alcohol to guests, and a permit for it cannot be issued. Also, permit holder, or another designated permit holder, cannot consume alcohol at the event.

Applying for a special event permit

To apply for a special event permit, you will need to fill out an application form and submit it to the British Columbia Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch at least 10 days before your event. The application will require you to provide details about your event,

including the date, time, location, and expected number of guests. You will also need to provide a detailed plan for how you will be serving alcohol, including information about the types of drinks you will be serving, how they’ll be served, and how you will ensure that guests are drinking responsibly.

Once your application has been submitted, it will be reviewed by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, who may request additional information or documentation. If your application is approved, you will receive your special event permit, which must be displayed prominently at your event. Make sure to read the terms and conditions of your permit carefully, as there may be additional requirements or restrictions that you need to follow.

Cheers to Family Time: Tips for Serving Alcohol at Gatherings in BC

Choosing the right drinks for your family even

When it comes to choosing the right drinks for your family event, there are a few things to keep in mind:

· Make sure to offer a variety of options, including non-alcoholic drinks for minors and those who would choose to stay away from alcoholic beverages

· Consider offering low-alcohol options also, such as beer or wine with a lower alcohol content, to help guests pace themselves

· Offer a variety of mixers and garnishes so guests can customize their drinks

· Consider offering a low-alcohol grade signature cocktail or two to add a special touch to your event

· Offer traditional soft drinks and juices, mocktails and other non-alcoholic cocktails that are just as delicious as their alcoholic counterparts.

Hiring a professional bartender or catering service

If you are hosting a larger event, or if you would prefer to leave the alcohol service to the professionals, hiring a catering service or bartender is the way to go. A professional bartender can help ensure that your guests are drinking responsibly and can provide a wider selection of drinks than you might be able to offer yourself. They can also help with logistics such as transporting and storing alcohol and can handle any issues that arise with intoxicated guests.

When choosing a catering service or bartender, make sure to choose a reputable company with experience serving alcohol at events similar to yours. Ask for references, and make sure to read reviews and check their licensing and insurance information.

What to do if someone gets too drunk

Even with the best intentions, sometimes guests can overindulge and become too drunk. As a host, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your guests, and that includes taking appropriate action if someone becomes too drunk. Make sure to have a plan in place for dealing with intoxicated guests, such as having a designated driver or a plan for calling a taxi or ride-sharing service.

If someone becomes too drunk at your event, act swiftly. Stop serving them alcohol and offer them water or non-alcoholic drinks instead. If they need medical attention, call 911 or seek help from a medical professional. Remember, it is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the safety of your guests.

Ensuring the safety of your guests

Ensuring the safety of your guests should be your top priority when serving alcohol at a family gathering. In addition to taking appropriate action if someone becomes too drunk, there are other steps you can take to ensure the safety of your guests. These include:

· Providing plenty of food to help guests pace themselves

· Offering non-alcoholic beverages to those who choose not to drink

· Making sure guests have a safe way to get home, such as a designated driver or ride-sharing service

· Having a plan in place for dealing with intoxicated guests

· Ensuring that your event space is safe and free of hazards that could lead to accidents or injuries

By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your family gathering is a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Cheers to Family Time: Tips for Serving Alcohol at Gatherings in BC

Conclusion: Celebrating responsibly with family and friends

Serving alcohol at family gatherings can be a great way to celebrate with loved ones, but it is important to do so responsibly. By understanding the laws and regulations in British Columbia, applying for a special event permit when necessary, choosing the right drinks, and ensuring the safety of your guests, you can host a family gathering that everyone will remember fondly. Remember, celebrating responsibly is the key to creating lasting memories with family and friends.
 

With all the tips, cautionary measures, and best intentions, sometimes things may turn sour, and accidents happen. If you need assistance with an incident as a consequence of serving alcohol at your family gathering, contact Stevenson Luchies & Legh today. Our experienced team can provide guidance and support to help you keep a positive memory of your event. For more information about the Special Event Permit, visit Special event permittee resources and information – Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca)

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