Four Holiday Follies & How to Avoid Them

Holiday parties and school events and family get togethers—oh, my! As we move full-speed ahead into the holiday season, it’s an important time to remember that our kids need extra help during the celebration season to make healthy choices regarding drugs and alcohol. The reality: Teen brains aren’t fully developed until around age 25. The problem: Healthy choices can take a backseat to having fun.


  • Holiday Folly: Celebrating Must Include Alcohol, Right?

Your family is at a holiday celebration and alcohol is readily and easily available. Your kids perceive that this means that alcohol is a necessary part of celebrating and that it’s okay for them to participate, too.

Solution: It’s a great time for parents to take the opportunity to tackle this potential problem before it’s an issue. Revisit your family policy together before you head into your holiday festivities. Remind everyone of the predetermined expectations when it comes to alcohol use and explain the dangers of alcohol. Bonus tip: Beware of plastic drink cups at holiday parties. If they aren’t clear, they can be an easy way for kids to disguise alcohol.

  • Holiday Folly: Easing Up on Rules

Between partaking in family celebrations, planning the holiday meal, attending holiday school performances and squeezing in daily life, families are pushed to the limits and going a million directions right now. It’s tempting (and easier in the moment!) to let rules slide or to make an impulse decision to avoid conflict.

Solution: Don’t let kids use the busy holiday season to their advantage. Remember the momentum you’ll be breaking by easing up on alcohol rules to avoid a family conflict. Plus, don’t let your kids catch you off guard with decisions such as, “I’m going to Josh’s New Year’s Eve party. See you later.” It’s absolutely worth pausing, asking kids for all of the details (e.g., will alcohol be served, will parents be present, etc.) and then using that information to make a comprehensive decision.

  • Holiday Folly: Freedom During School Break

Hip, hip hooray for school breaks! While kids are rejoicing for the break, parents may face the challenge of having older kids at home unsupervised, potentially leading to kids finding trouble.

Solution: Revisit ground rules for having friends over, check in with your kids frequently throughout the day and secure any alcohol in the house. Plus, remember that college kids returning home for the break may also need a separate conversation and to be reminded of the acceptable house rules after being on their own at school.

  • Holiday Folly: Offers from Others

Whether your kids are at a family get together or out on their own with friends, the holiday season poses many opportunities for others to bring drugs or alcohol into your child’s life.

Solution: Role-playing potential offer scenarios in advance with your kids enables them to be confident about turning down drug or alcohol offers. Parents can also increase safety measures by implementing a rescue plan to help a child leave an unhealthy situation.


Above all, the most important tool parents have for keeping kids safe this holiday season is influence. Kids cite parent disapproval as the number one reason they don’t use drugs or alcohol, so consider your influence one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids this holiday season.