An over-served guest can ruin a function faster than a plague of locusts or an afternoon thunderstorm.

How do you keep that lushy board or family member from taking over your carefully planned affair?

The most important decision is whether you should invite them at all.

Is it truly unavoidable? When was the last time someone in your family, social group, or organization paid our friend the consequence of denying an invite? If they have a problem, maybe this is exactly what they need. If an invitation is absolutely necessary, decide next whether you might save everyone a lot of headache if you sit down with this person and discuss the importance of their self-control. Few people will feel comfortable doing this, but if the relationship is a special one and you are concerned about them, it may once again be what they need.

If these solutions are too over-the-top or inaccessible for you, here are some coping mechanisms to get through the event unscathed.

Find a watcher

If you know in advance that you are dealing with a sloppy guest, ask someone on your team to be their babysitter during the event. This person can help lead them to the restroom and even outside or away from the venue if necessary, as well as helping them get a taxi at the end of the evening. You can also plan to serve lighter alcohols such as wine and beer, and skip the liquor all together.

Ignore, then act when necessary

If your drunk friend comes as a surprise (say right in the middle of your speech dedicating a new center), you may need to think fast. The best tactic may be to shrug your shoulders and ignore them during the event. At least they are contained, and the any attempts you make to control them may actually call more attention. Take a deep breath and remember that at some point, most people are in your shoes, and probably your friend’s as well. Dispatch someone to help them, and decide whether you need to ask them to leave. Whether it is sooner or later, do them the favor of calling a taxi.

Opportunity to address the problem

Try not to judge someone who takes the celebration a little too far, but do consider whether this is a time to address a problem that everyone in your family or office has been coping with. Just remember to handle the situation with grace and love, and maybe a sense of humor as well.


Sarah Harbin has been planning and promoting non-profit fundraisers, art and cultural events for over ten years, and recently began planning personal events.
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