How Drunk Is Too Drunk?: The Proper Level Of Drunkenness For Various Occasions


Let's face it: Alcohol makes most things in life more enjoyable and should be served at as many occasions as possible.

I, for one, have always been a fan of incorporating booze into various social situations. However, I have learned, much to my dismay, that while alcohol can be incorporated into most situations (baby shower, playing board games, waiting for the train, etc.), there is a time and place for "overindulgence."

In college, it was encouraged (or rather, expected) to get drunk at any and all events. Whether it was at a football game, Saturday night at the bar or while walking to class, alcohol not only flowed freely, but drinking came free of judgment.

In the adult world, there are occasions in which moderation is your friend and it's "inappropriate" to get in a drunken fistfight with a lamppost, in front of your boss, after the Christmas party, etc. To avoid complete humiliation, employment termination and potential arrest, here are some tips for how to gauge the appropriate level of drunkenness for some of life's events you will most likely encounter:

A Wake/Funeral:

I know this one may sound morbid and even a little weird, but from my experience, it is possible (and sometimes necessary) to get drunk at a wake/funeral — despite the fact that it is frowned upon.

If it's someone else's family or friend (e.g. you went with your friend to her aunt's funeral) and you stopped at a bar on your way or you're a good friend and stayed for the whole service but dodged out to the bar across the street, you absolutely have to maintain your sobriety (or at least your composure).

These people are going through a terrible time and a drunken stranger cursing the higher powers for the death of someone he or she never met is the last thing they need.

Conversely, if it's your family or friend, do what you have to do to cope, but your family will not appreciate you showing up drunk to the funeral, no matter how much the booze eases your mind.

Death is difficult to handle, and while we all have our own ways of handling it, I guarantee that showing up to a service smelling like a bar will not earn sympathy for any griever.

After being at a family wake for five hours, my brother and I were starving and ran across the street to grab quick bite, which turned into having a few beers. When we returned, it was apparently visible that we had been drinking and… let’s just say it was not appreciated.

*Apply this advice to meeting a significant other’s parents and other events with families that don’t drink.

**If you're Irish, or going to an Irish funeral, disregard everything I just said; it's disrespectful NOT to drink at such occasions.

An Office Party:

Office parties are a good way to unwind with your coworkers, which is a significantly easier task when alcohol is involved.

No matter where you work, it's always fun to loosen up with the people you spend so much time with. While it's all good and fun to let loose a little and have a few drinks at office functions — like the company Christmas Party — keep in mind that no one forgets who made drunken mistakes at the office party.

I admit to throwing back a few shots with the sales team at an old job, but not nearly as many as one guy in particular. In the least suave manner imaginable, this guy told one of our female coworkers about his "private thoughts" of her.

Fortunately for him (and his career), she knew he was wasted and laughed it off instead of reporting him to HR or smacking him (either of which would have be warranted). Unfortunately for him, Monday was awkward for everyone in the office because not only had a few people witnessed his attempted pickup, but those people then told the rest of our gossip-loving office.

Do not be the drunkest person at the office party. There is always a chance that you’ll make a fool out of yourself when you drink too much, so try your best not to make those mistakes in front of the people who control your employment status.

*Also use this judgment at high school reunions, first dates and parties where there is a chance you could run into your ex (being too drunk in that situation could lead to unspeakable regret).

A Child's Birthday Party:

Depending on the child’s age, these are often rather unappealing events, even if it’s your own child. Although alcohol is not typically served in mass quantities at these types of parties, parents will occasionally put out some booze for the sake of their guests (and their own sanity).

While I understand and appreciate that alcohol can seem like the only way to cope with screaming children throwing cake near/at you, it’s not okay to be drunk in front of children. It’s true that children don’t always understand what’s going on around them and at times, they even act like tiny drunk adults – but, it’s still not cool.

Not only are you setting a bad example for the kids, you’re also compromising your ability to stay responsible. Even though kids' parties can be painful, just stick to apple juice and if you decide to spike it, keep it to low level.

You don’t want to become the person your friends/family won’t allow around their children.

A Parade Or Other Festival:

Finally, a time and place where you can fully embrace booze without fear of judgment. What’s great about these events is that drinking is almost always encouraged and you’re usually outdoors, so people won’t get mad at you for yelling or doing cartwheels.

There are even festivals that exist for the sole purpose of drinking! Parades and festivals are the times when it’s acceptable to be drunk in front of children. I’m sorry, parents, but if you’ve brought your children to a St. Patrick’s Day parade, you know what you’re up against.

This is also a time and place where day drinking isn’t frowned upon, so enjoy. Grab some friends and grab some drinks! Let all fear of breaking the proper level of drunkenness guidelines disappear.

*This advice holds true for weddings, friends’ parties, your birthday, Sunday brunch, sporting events, concerts (don’t fall into people, though — that’s really annoying) and anything other event when you could justify your demeanor to police.

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