Being a good host can mean being a little less generous

Quebecers are generous hosts. Our reputation as people who know how to entertain is well established, here and beyond our borders.

Usually, people gather around the table, with alcohol generally served to accompany a fine meal. How much alcohol? “Who’s counting!” is often the answer. And yet, counting is exactly what a good host must do. Because when it comes to hospitality and generosity, the rules for food and alcohol are very different.

Have you ever seen a host offer guests more food while they are still eating what’s on their plates? So why do some people think they have to keep filling glasses when guests have barely taken a sip?

No doubt the intention is good, and has to do with our notion of what it means to be a generous host. But when Éduc’alcool recommends a maximum per occasion of two drinks for women and three for men, people must be able to count. And a good host is someone who makes things easier for guests, not more complicated.

At a dinner party, we often encourage people to have seconds. If someone compliments a dish, we offer more. “How about another serving? Can I give you a little more of that? Please, have another slice of pie!”

That may be fine with food, but with alcohol it is a terrible mistake. When people say they have had enough to drink, a good host does not insist.

When you entertain, remember these helpful tips:

  • Always provide non-alcoholic beverages. Nobody should feel obliged to drink alcohol and a respectful host always offers non-alcoholic options.
  • Have food available at all times, even before dinner. Drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea.
  • Water glasses should be kept filled at all times. To avoid dehydration, it’s a good idea to alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks: for every alcoholic beverage, you should drink a non-alcoholic one, preferably water.
  • Make sure there are places where people can put down their glasses. Studies show that people drink more when they hold their glasses in their hands.
  • Don’t drink too much yourself. As the host, it is your responsibility to stay in control.

In short, whether you are a host or a guest, if you want to ensure a successful party, remember that moderation is always in good taste.

Hubert Sacy
Executive Director, Éduc’alcool