Underage Holiday Drinking: Operation ‘Holiday-Party Parenting’

N.C. Launches Campaign to Warn Families about Liability/Risks for Underage Holiday Drinking

Holiday festivities are a time North Carolina families celebrate the season and the new year ahead. But if kids get a hold of alcohol, they can damage their brains, and parents could face criminal liability.

That’s why Talk it Out NC, a state-sponsored initiative to reduce underage drinking, has launched Operation “Holiday-Party Parenting,” to warn families about the risks and dangers of underage drinking during holiday parties.

Did you know?

  • If you allow a minor to consume alcohol or if you “should have known” kids were drinking in your home, you could be criminally charged.
  • If a child gets hurt or dies because minors were drinking in your home, you could be liable and could be sued.

“During the holidays, there are often more opportunities to drink underage, and we warn parents they must have a strategy to keep alcohol out of the hands of underage guests at their homes,” says Jim Van Hecke, Deputy Director of Education Outreach for the NC Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. “That’s why we are launching Operation “Holiday-Party Parenting” to alert parents to the legal risks to them and to the health risks to their children because of the damage alcohol can cause to the developing brain. With many social events being held this time of year, it’s the perfect season for families to start the alcohol conversation.”

Operation “Holiday-Party Parenting”

Tips from Talk it Out NC

  • At holiday parties, lock up alcohol not served.
  • Give color-coded or different style cups to adults and underage guests.
  • Make a punch without alcohol so underage guests feel like they’re drinking something special without missing out on the fun.
  • If you’re not home, don’t allow parties at your house.
  • Remind your children and their friends that you are always ready and willing to pick them up from uncomfortable situations, no questions asked.
  • If children have a smartphone, help them download a ride service app like Uber or Lyft so if they’re in a bad situation, they can get a ride home. This is especially important if you’re not around to pick them up.
  • Be responsible when it comes to driving and always have a safety plan.
  • Take the Talk it Out Pledge with your family.

“We know the alcohol conversation with children can be difficult, which is why we created the Talk It Out Pledge,” says Van Hecke. “It’s a great conversation starter, and there’s no better time than the holidays, when children will be tempted at social gatherings.”

Learn more about how to start and continue your conversations about alcohol.

For interviews, Talk It Out Ambassadors from across the state can come and offer tips and information on Operation “Holiday-Party Parenting” as well as how to start and continue the conversation about alcohol.


  • Alcohol consumption, including underage drinking, is at its highest during the holiday season.
  • According to a study taken from a sample of hospitals from around the country, nearly 2,000 underage people will spend New Year’s Day in the hospital because of alcohol.
  • The study also says more than 1 in 10 teenagers will drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol on New Year’s Eve.