Avoid A DUI This Holiday with Friendsgiving
With the holidays fast approaching, many of us in York County have already started planning gatherings with family and friends that will fill our calendars with hustle and bustle well into the New Year. Whether it is an all-out family feast, or just a night of catching up with friends over a few drinks, these types of gatherings send us traveling from one end of the county to the other, and often directly into downtown York.
One particularly popular night for younger people to gather downtown is Thanksgiving Eve. On the last Wednesday night each November, the twenty-somethings of York County make a mass exodus to the bars of downtown York – some bars are more notorious for this than others – and meet up with friends old and new. Why this night in particular? It’s simple: most college students are home for the holiday, and nearly everyone is free of work or school responsibilities the next day.
The Risk of DUI on Thanksgiving Eve
While visiting a local bar on Thanksgiving Eve offers its moments of fun and rekindled friendship, there are often severe negative consequences. Because these events take place in an environment where the excitement of old friends is paired with an endless supply of alcohol, there is an overwhelming tendency for gatherings of this type to become excessive. And while we support the rights of individuals to decide their own safe limits with regard to alcohol, when events like this occur in public places, it can be a recipe for disaster.
Simply put, on one of the most popular drinking nights of the year, police will be out in full force, and the possibility for an alcohol- or drug-related DUI will be very high. Aside from the police doing their duty to keep civilians safe from drunk drivers, waking up on Thanksgiving morning with a criminal charge is nothing to be thankful for.
Friendsgiving: A New Solution to An Old Problem
One emerging trend that could help lower Thanksgiving weekend DUIs in York County is Friendsgiving. Because many young people are opting to live farther away from family than in the past, Friendsgiving – a thanksgiving-like dinner gathering with friends – has taken hold as a way for people to form holiday bonds and memories with people close to them.
But Friendsgiving does not have to be a direct replacement for its traditional counterpart. For those that live close to family or are visiting home for the holiday, Friendsgiving can be a creative way to replace the old bar night while keeping you and your friends safe from drunk drivers and DUI this holiday. With just over two weeks until Thanksgiving, however, the time to get started is now. Here are a few tips for starting your first Friendsgiving off right:
1.) Choose A Home That Can Properly Accommodate The Event. Because part of the goal of Friendsgiving is to avoid encounters with the police, it is important to consider the space you’ll use for the event – and especially the neighbors surrounding you. Inviting thirty people to a second-floor apartment for food and drinks could start out fine, but many of your neighbors will be waking early to start cooking their holiday meals, so things could turn ugly quick. Talk with your friends first, and maybe even your neighbors, and choose a venue appropriate to the gathering.
2.) Invite Your Favorite People. Invitations for this event can be as complicated as you want them to be – something as simple as a Facebook event will do, or you can get crafty and screen print custom invitations on cardstock. Just keep in mind that, as with any gathering, diverse groups of friends may not always have much in common, so choose a few activities or games that will satisfy each of them and list them on your invite.
3.) Create A Sign-Up Sheet. If you’ll be inviting more than a few people to your gathering, footing the bill for the food and drink could get quite expensive. One way to keep your expenses down is to host the party covered-dish style – those who don’t like to cook can bring beer or wine instead. Google Docs usually work well, or if you know exactly what you’ll need, you can create a sign-up sheet with a service such as TimeToSignUp (both services are free).
4.) Encourage Staying Over. One of the main benefits of having Friendsgiving on Thanksgiving Eve is the convenience of not needing travel arrangements from the bar, and avoiding the temptation that faces some to make the drive home themselves (don’t do it). For this reason, clearly communicate that sleeping over is encouraged! Remind your guests on the invitation to bring a pillow and blanket or sleeping bag, and keep your couches open for your guests to crash. At the same time, make sure you communicate the end time of the gathering if you have plans the next day. This will give your friends time to sober up, grab a cup of coffee, and head home.
5.) Leave Some Wiggle Room. Especially if this is your first time hosting the event, make sure you leave some room in all of your plans – because as we all know, over-planning can stifle a gathering very quickly. Make the start and end times an hour earlier than you think your later guests will arrive or leave, ditch the rigid schedule of events, and stock a few extra items in case your attendees forget their snacks or beer. Your friends will be thankful for your flexibility, and that is exactly what the holiday is all about!
Make Thanksgiving Eve A Safer Night for Everyone
With all of these suggestions in mind, and a little creativity of your own, you can turn Thanksgiving Eve from a scary DUI snare into a fun and creative tradition you’ll share with your friends for years to come. MPL Law Firm is always here for your legal needs when the unexpected occurs, but we hope this post will help you start conversations with your loved ones about creative ways to stay safe over the holidays!