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December 23, 2009
The family gift that keeps giving: a safe, sober celebration

Washington state officials urge responsibility this season
OLYMPIA – ‘Twas the night of the party when all through the home
were half-empty glasses of booze where kids like to roam;
From yuletide punch to a frothy egg flip,
they tempted young ones and teens to take a sip.

Many adults enjoy drinking during the holidays. But the Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking points out that too many parties end tragically when a curious child suffers alcohol poisoning or a friend or relative gets behind the wheel after drinking.

Attorney General Rob McKenna and coalition co-chairs Michael Langer and Sharon Foster say their Christmas wish is for a safe holiday season. They urge parents to consider giving their children the gift of a safe and sober celebration.

Parents should start by modeling responsible and healthy behavior and telling kids and teens about the dangers of underage drinking, they said. Here are a few tips:

  • Talk to Your Children: Tell them that even though adults may be drinking, you don’t want anyone under 21 to use alcohol. It’s the law.
  • Check on Your Teens: If your older child is going to a holiday event, check in with the party planners to make sure that alcohol won’t be served.
  • Create a Safety Plan: Decide in advance what you and your family will do if you are at a party with people who have had too much to drink.
  • Take the Keys: Don’t let guests drive if they appear to be alcohol-impaired. Keep taxi numbers handy.
  • Set An Example: When children and teens are present at holiday events, ask guests not to bring gifts of alcohol. If alcoholic drinks are served, be sure to throw out leftovers to prevent children from sampling.
  • Serve Fun, Non-Alcoholic Drinks: Did you know that one in three adults prefers a non-alcoholic beverage? Offer festive mocktails, punch and sparkling water. Serve guests nutritious and appealing foods to slow the effects of alcohol.
  • Visit You’ll find suggestions on what to say to your kids, as well as a link to recipes for tasty, alcohol-free concoctions such as a Citrus Collins, Viennese Coffee and Southern-Style Eggnog.

When families are healthy and safe, we all can cheer
Happy holidays to all, and for our kids, a sober New Year!


Editor’s Note: Sharon Foster is chair of the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Michael Langer is prevention and treatment services supervisor for the Department of Social and Health Services’ Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery.

Media Contacts: Kristin Alexander, Seattle Media Relations Manager, Attorney General’s Office, (206) 464-6432

Deb Schnellman, Communications Manager, Washington Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking, 360-725-3763

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