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How to create an alcohol-friendly space at your next event

How to create an alcohol friendly space at your next event

Are you planning a big company party to demonstrate how much you value your employees? Perhaps you’re putting on a big block party to meet neighboring businesses and your community!

Regardless of the reason, if you’re considering providing adult beverages and cocktails at your next event, you need to have a game plan from beginning to end – let’s discuss how to make that happen!

Pre-event planning is essential.

Serving alcohol cannot be a last-minute decision, as permits and licenses are required even (especially) in a temporary setting, and each can take weeks or months to be issued – so it is imperative that you plan ahead when brainstorming such an event! To discover what authorization is necessary for your state, contact your city government or peruse their website; depending on the type of event and location, each jurisdiction has different requirements for obtaining licenses and approvals.

What type of approvals might be needed for such an event?

There are likely a number of approvals and licenses available to request in your state and may be known by different names once you cross city or state lines, but the general idea of them nationwide is the same: requesting approval to host your event in a specific location, particularly if it is a public space and/or if you will be bringing in food or alcohol (or both!).

The File and Use Notification (L-FUN) has specific criteria that must be met in order to be requested, but allows an event holder to submit their information and hold the event without formal pre-approval from the county or state government. The criteria must be met in full, and might fall along the lines of the following: the event is private with a maximum number of guests (often 500), the estimated wholesale value of alcohol will not pass a certain threshold, the property owner has authorized the event, and the event is not sponsored by specific individuals or businesses.

If any of the criteria for a FUN is not met, an event planner or organization may apply for a Temporary Event Approval (L-TEA); these are available for all events where alcohol will be present or sold and are limited to four-day increments per request (but back-to-back requests may be submitted for longer events). While FUNs do not have late fees if not filed by a certain date, the TEA must be submitted at least ten days prior to the first day of your event.

While both the FUN and TEA are available to obtain for most individuals or organizations, if your organization is a non-profit as defined by your state, you will likely need a different approval form – the Nonprofit Entity Temporary Event Permit (NT). Many states require a minimum and/or maximum number of event days and do require both filing fees and late fees if not submitted the required number of business days prior to the event.

With these event approvals, you will also likely need temporary liquor license(s): a license under State Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Law and/or a Temporary Liquor License. These licenses require a small fee and generally must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of the event and take at least a month to process, so don’t procrastinate! All temporary permit holders are required to be aware of (and follow) the laws, requirements, procedures, and potential liabilities surrounding the sale or dispersal of alcohol or liquor.

Silver Barricades leading to wine purchase area

Keep it regulated, keep it fun!

In order to safely serve alcohol, some precautions are necessary in order to ensure that levels of intoxication stay appropriate and your guests enjoy themselves. Here are a few ideas that will help keep your event regulated and fun!

ID stations are your friend!

To make certain that you are serving adults of legal age, it’s best practice to ID all guests who are planning on partaking. Depending on the size of your event, it might be a good idea to set up a separate ID station so that bartenders and servers do not have to be responsible for both serving and IDing.

At an easy-to-find station, guests can have their identification verified and then receive a wristband, hand stamp, or a regulated number of tickets to show the bartender and receive their drinks. Making this station easily recognizable will go a long way in ensuring that nobody slips through the cracks, so we like to use our billboard barricades with custom signage attached to direct guests!

White barricade with signage that reads: ID Station

Create a separate lounge space, if you’d like.

Another thing we like to use our billboard barricades for is to partition off a separate area for those drinking – creating a lounge space where they can enjoy their beverages. This space also makes it simple to ID guests as they meander back and forth to other party zones and allows for safe spaces where alcohol is present and where it is not (if that is something your event requires or allows for)!

Cater to your guests’ stomachs and serve appetizing sustenance.

There is little that makes a person tipsy more quickly than alcohol on an empty stomach, so prevent over-imbibing and intoxicated guests with a spread of treats, filling snacks, or hors d’oeuvres that will keep them coming back for more! Depending on your drink menu, you can create a food menu to match – try cranberry brie bites or shrimp cocktails for a cocktail-geared event, hire a taco truck or burger bar on wheels to pair with IPAs, lagers, and ales, or put together a giant charcuterie board if you’re offering wine. Going with all three varieties of alcohol? Mix up the menu and bring (or cater) whatever you think your guests would enjoy most!

Provide a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

If your event will have children present, you’re hosting a professional event, or you might have guests who choose not to partake, you might want to consider either sticking to beer and wine (and foregoing liquor) or adding alcohol-free beverages (like a Shirley Temple!) to your drink menu so that all can enjoy a fun drink!

If you want to serve true cocktails, hire a professional bartender to serve and regulate beverages! As a trained professional can serve exact amounts down to the ounce, this can help you cut down on overall liquor costs and more precisely estimate needed amounts when purchasing. Choosing to serve only beer and/or wine, on the other hand, will lower your overall costs as well as limit the amount of intoxication taking place.

Get your guests home safely when the party’s over.

As your guests exit your event, help them out when it comes to ensuring that they arrive home safely! Especially at an event that is promoting the consumption of inhibitive beverages, aiding them in finding safe ways to travel home (or wherever they want to land for the night) is a responsible and compassionate thing to do. If you’re in a big enough city you could recommend Uber or Lyft versus driving to and from your event, or, if you’re in a smaller town that doesn’t support rideshare services, encouraging a designated driver might be just the thing. To cover your bases completely, you could arrange a bus or cab service to whisk your party-goers safely away to their final destinations!

Safety is fun, so plan responsibly and party on!

We’re all about having a good time, so having one safely is the maraschino cherry on top! Whatever your event is for, remember that serving alcohol requires advance planning and attention to detail (two of our favorite things, just look at our barricades!), so don’t dawdle when it comes to dreaming up your event and getting it scheduled.

Know you’ll need our phenomenal billboard barricades to direct your party-goers and create safe boundaries around your event? Don’t hesitate to give us a call or request a quote today!