Here are ten tips from our Alcohol Counsellor, to help you keep track of your drinking, and ensure a safe and enjoyable festive season.

1. Designated Driver 

Not only will having a designated driver (DD) ensure a safe end to the night, it will also avoid those lengthy late night taxi queues. Do a deal with the drinkers so they pay for the DDs soft drinks all night. Take the DD role in turn so everyone can have a drink if they want to and everyone gets a night off the booze, too.

2. Set the Pace 

It can be hard to keep track of your drinking if you all get a round in. It also tempts you to drink more than you intended – after all, when it’s your round you don’t want to opt for the diet cola and when it’s someone else’s shout, it’d be a shame to miss out. Sticking to one type of drink throughout the night will help you keep a tally of how much you’ve had. Make sure to drink plenty of water, too. The Dry January and Beyond mobile app can help you keep track of your units (and your calories) when you’re out on the town.

3. The Morning After... 

Pounding head, dry mouth, sensitive stomach, never drinking again? Forget all the novelty hangover cures – the only thing that really works is time. It takes one hour for your liver to process each unit of alcohol so in the meantime, get plenty of fluids, plenty of rest and take at least one night off (preferably more) before drinking again. 

4...The Night Before 

There are things that you can do while you’re out to lessen the effects of tomorrow’s hangover. Firstly, drink less by alternating one alcoholic and one soft drink throughout the night. It will keep you hydrated and you’ll feel better in the morning. Secondly, don’t mix your drinks, the different tannins, sulphites, and other additives can upset your stomach. Thirdly, don’t drink on an empty stomach, you’re more likely to feel ill. Finally, put a bottle of water by your bed before you go out so that it’s within easy reach when you wake up at 6am feeling queasy.

5. Behind the Wheel 

A good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast may make you feel better the next day but it doesn’t mean you’ll be safe to drive. Allow one hour for every unit consumed (a can of lager or a glass of wine can be about 3 units) and don’t drive until you’re sure all the alcohol is out of your system.  

6. Show me the way to go home 

Make your plan for getting home before you go out. If you intend to stay out overnight, check with your host that this is a definite arrangement or book yourself into a nearby hotel.  Keep a stash of cash and/or condoms somewhere about your person, too. Just in case.

7. Host with the Most 

Try making a fruit punch or experiment with mocktails so that your non-drinking guests have the option of more than just cola or orange juice.  Serve snacks at regular intervals, and don’t insist on refilling glasses if guests have had enough. If a guest does have a few too many, call them a taxi or let them sleep it off in your spare room. 

8. The Best Guest 

Few things are more embarrassing than having to phone up the party host to apologise for your drunken behaviour the night before. If you have a tendency to go overboard when celebrating, set yourself a limit and stick to it. Slow down your drinking and pace yourself throughout the night. Make sure you have mixers with spirits, drink soft drinks between alcoholic drinks and eat something before you go out. 

9. The One-Too-Many mate 

Whether you’re the host or a guest, be prepared to deal with the friend who has had too much to drink. Encourage them to switch to water, lead them to the smallest room if they feel sick and sit them down somewhere quiet to recover. Check on them regularly and put them in the recovery position if they fall asleep. People are very vulnerable when drunk – violence, accidents, alcohol poisoning – so make sure your friend gets home safely. 

10. Free now, pay later 

If ‘Christmas Party’ means ‘free booze’ to you – beware! It can be very tempting to over indulge when the drinks are on the house. Not only can drinking too much too quickly be dangerous (the equivalent of a bottle of vodka in an hour can easily kill an adult male) but drunken behaviour in front of colleagues and loved ones can have repercussions long after the hangover has worn off. 

Have a safe and enjoyable festive season and if you do hit the booze a bit hard this year, why not try a Dry January?  Your chance to lose weight, feel better, save money and make a difference. Sign up at www.dryjanuary.org.uk and download the Dry January and Beyond app.