15 December. One of the busiest days of the year for the emergency services. Can you guess why?  

Christmas parties are supposed to be a fun way to let your hair down at the end of a busy year - but too often they revolve around excessive drinking and many people, drinking or not, enjoy them less as a result.

These tips are designed to help this year's Christmas parties to be fun and enjoyable, as well as safe. I hope you find them useful.

Tips for party-goers

First thing's first: you don't have to drink at a Christmas party. There's nothing rude or un-festive about politely turning down a drink. If you would like to drink, consider setting yourself a limit before the party starts and then - the tricky bit - finding a way to stick to it. Here are five simple tips.

1.   Make every other drink a glass of water or soft drink.

2.   Make a deal with a friend that you will both stop drinking alcohol at a certain time. Even more effective can be an agreement not to start until a certain time. 

3.   Use an app to track your drinking. This is the future! You don't need to add it up in your head - make use of the great tools available to you. If people ask what you're doing, tell them and be proud. You might help them follow your lead.

4.      If you know there is going to be a paid-for bar, just take a certain amount of cash with you.

5.       Before you go out, book your lift or taxi home for a certain time.

One final great tip for the whole festive season is to think about your real festive pleasures and enjoy those, while cutting out the drinking that isn't a pleasure - the drinking that might make you feel unwell or guilty afterwards. So if you love a glass of something bubbly or a mulled wine, look forward to and enjoy that, while ditching anything unnecessary that will spoil your enjoyment of the season.

Tips for organising a work Christmas party 

1.       Ensure at least one non-drinker is on the party organising team.

2.       Consider running a dry Christmas event, such as a theatre visit, a comedy night or laser tag. There will almost certainly be members of your workforce who don't drink, for many different reasons. They will often be great at avoiding a 'wet' Christmas Party, while in fact they may be feeling excluded.

3.       Ensure any party is welcoming to non-drinkers by having plentiful and high-quality non-alcoholic drinks available. The key message to send is that you can have fun as a team without needing alcohol.

4.       Set a clear limit on the amount of free alcohol that anyone can receive, for example by numbered bar tickets, while making soft drinks unlimited. Avoid the time-limit approach to free alcoholic drinks - "Free bar until 8pm!" - as this can lead to people drinking more and more quickly, without spacing their drinks with water. This is riskier and worse for party goers health!

5.       Senior management - stay sober! Hopefully no one will get drunk, but if they do it's your job to ensure that they are asked to stop drinking and helped home.

6.       Make it clear that the Christmas party is not a discipline-free zone - inappropriate behaviour will lead to disciplinary action. That can be communicated in a positive way: you want everyone to have a good time!

7.       No drinking games! Competitive drinking is a sure-fire way for people to feel pressure to drink more than they are comfortable with, and the evening will be less fun (and safe) as a result.

As the party season draws to a close you might be feeling like your body could do with a total break from booze. If that's the case, why not give Dry January a try? Read more about the benefits and sign up here.