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Serving Alcohol at a Private Party: A Guide for Your Next Event

by | Jan 17, 2024 | Event Planning

When it comes to serving alcohol at a private party, navigating the maze of legalities and best practices is crucial to ensure a memorable and responsible gathering. Whether you’re throwing a laid-back backyard barbecue in Sydney or an upscale cocktail soirée in Melbourne, understanding the ins and outs of alcohol service will set the tone for your event.

We walk you through the essential considerations, from adhering to local alcohol laws and obtaining necessary permits to ensuring the safety and comfort of your guests. With a focus on responsible hosting, you’ll be equipped to curate a beverage selection that’s not only impressive but also inclusive, taking into account the diverse preferences and needs of your attendees. Let’s raise a glass to savvy party planning and create an event that’s both enjoyable and law-abiding.

Legalities and Licenses For Serving Alcohol at a Private Party In Australia

Checking Local Alcohol Laws

When you’re planning to serve alcohol at a private party in Australia, remember that the legal drinking age is 18 everywhere in the country. But the specifics of alcohol regulation can differ quite a bit from state to state. For example, in New South Wales, you can’t sell alcohol without a licence issued by the state government.

In Victoria, you’ll need a licence or permit from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation to sell alcohol. Each state has its own rules, like the Liquor Act 1992 in Queensland and the Liquor Licensing Act 1997 in South Australia. You’ll want to get to know the local laws to make sure you’re on the right side of them.

Obtaining Necessary Permits

If you’re hosting a private party where alcohol is served, you might need to get a permit, especially if you’re selling it. How you go about getting these permits changes depending on where you are and what kind of event you’re throwing. In Queensland, for instance, selling alcohol, even online, requires a licence under the Liquor Act.

Not having the right licence can lead to big fines or even jail time for serious repeat offenses. It’s a good idea to check with local authorities well before your event to see if you need a permit and to give yourself enough time to go through the application process.

Age Verification and ID Checks

You’ve got to make sure you don’t serve alcohol to minors—it’s the law all over Australia. In every state, it’s illegal for anyone under 18 to buy alcohol. In some places, like Western Australia, minors can’t even drink on licensed premises, even with a parent or guardian.

As a host, you’ll need to check IDs to keep underage drinking at bay. This is key since minors often get alcohol from their parents, which is known as secondary supply.

Liability and Host Responsibilities

When you’re throwing a party, you’ve got to serve alcohol responsibly, thinking about your guests’ health and safety. Take Queensland, for example, where licensees must make sure alcohol is served responsibly, and there are penalties for serving booze to someone who’s already drunk or impaired. You should also offer plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and food.

It’s smart to stop serving alcohol at least an hour before your party wraps up and to have non-alcoholic options ready then. If someone’s had too much to drink, you or someone responsible should help them get home safely. Taking care of your guests like this reduces the risks that come with drinking and keeps everyone safe.

People Serving Alcohol At Event

Planning Your Beverage Selection

Selecting the appropriate beverages is crucial for the success of your event. It’s essential to cater to the preferences of your attendees while adhering to the regulations of your jurisdiction.

Tailoring Drink Choices to Your Guest List

Understanding the demographics of your attendees is beneficial when deciding on the alcoholic beverages to provide. Consider the preferences of various age groups and cultural backgrounds. For instance, a younger demographic might prefer trendy craft beers or inventive cocktails, whereas an older or more conservative group may favor traditional wines and spirits.

It’s also important to accommodate those who abstain from alcohol due to personal or religious reasons, ensuring they feel included in your event planning.

Estimating the Right Amount

Determining the appropriate quantity of alcohol to purchase can be challenging. Aim for a balance that maintains a festive atmosphere without promoting excessive consumption or resulting in excessive leftovers. Calculate the expected number of drinks per attendee and adjust for the duration of your event and the varying consumption rates among your guests. Also, be mindful of the implications of over-service and the potential for guests to drive under the influence.

Non-Alcoholic Options for Inclusivity

Providing a variety of non-alcoholic beverages is a considerate and responsible practice. This ensures that those who opt not to drink alcohol, including designated drivers, have appealing choices. Offer a selection of soft drinks, mocktails, fruit punches, and sparkling waters to ensure all attendees have enjoyable options.

Signature Cocktails and Themes

Creating a signature cocktail or a themed drink menu can add a unique touch to your event. This can be an engaging topic of conversation among guests. When designing a signature beverage, consider the overall atmosphere of the event, the season, and the availability of ingredients.

For themed events, aligning your drink selection with the theme can enhance the experience. However, it’s advisable to also provide straightforward choices to cater to guests with varied preferences.

Waiter Serving Wine

Ensuring Guest Safety and Comfort

Transportation Plans for Guests

Encouraging responsible transportation is a crucial aspect of hosting. Suggesting alternatives such as public transit or arranging carpools can prevent guests from driving while impaired. Offering to assist with transportation arrangements or providing accommodations for an overnight stay can be a proactive measure to ensure everyone’s safety.

Clear access for emergency vehicles is also essential, so ensure that areas such as driveways are unobstructed.

Managing Intoxicated Guests

Dealing with overindulgence requires diplomacy and care. If a guest appears to have overconsumed, it’s important to intervene discreetly. Informing a sober individual or the host can help address the situation. In emergencies, contacting a responsible party or dialing triple zero (000) for assistance is necessary. Communicating the rules regarding alcohol consumption to all attendees, particularly younger ones, can help maintain a controlled environment.

Designating Alcohol-Free Zones

Setting up areas where alcohol is not permitted can provide a reprieve for those who choose not to partake or for minors. It’s crucial to inform parents or guardians about the presence of alcohol and to enforce the rules to ensure a comfortable environment for all guests.

Hydration and Food Pairing

Ensuring that guests have access to water and food can enhance their well-being and mitigate the impact of alcohol. Offering a variety of food options can also contribute to a more inclusive and enjoyable experience for all attendees.

Responsible Revelry

Hosting a private party where alcohol is on the menu calls for a blend of savvy planning and legal know-how.

Across Australian states, the key to a successful gathering is staying informed about the unique rules and regulations of your locale and obtaining any necessary permits ahead of time. Whether it’s being meticulous with ID checks or managing the merriment responsibly, the goal is to craft an unforgettable event while keeping safety at the forefront.

Offer a mix of spirited and zero-proof beverages that cater to your crowd, but remember: the best hosts are those who prioritize the well-being of their guests. With these considerations in mind, you’re all set to throw a party that’s both memorable and within the bounds of the law. Cheers to an exceptional and responsible bash!


Do You Need an RSA to Serve Alcohol at a Private Function in NSW?

Yes, for serving alcohol at any private function in New South Wales, such as weddings, corporate gatherings, or community events, an RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) certification is required. This applies to various roles, including service staff and security personnel at licensed venues​​.

What Do You Need to Serve Alcohol in Queensland (Qld)?

In Queensland, individuals who serve or supply alcohol must have an RSA certificate. This includes staff of licensed premises like licensees and is also a requirement for individual applicants who are 18 years or older. The training for RSA must be completed through a recognized provider, and there are specific courses available for this purpose​​​​.

Can You Hold a Fundraising Event with Alcohol in Queensland?

Yes, you can hold a fundraising event with alcohol in Queensland. For events or venues exempt from requiring a liquor license or permit under the Liquor Act 1992, volunteers can serve alcohol without holding a current RSA training certificate. However, they must be supervised by someone with current RSA training​​​​.

Do Volunteers Need an RSA in Queensland (Qld)?

In Queensland, volunteers serving or supplying alcohol under specific license categories, such as community club license, community other license, community liquor permit, or restricted liquor permit, are not required to hold a current RSA training certificate. However, they must be supervised by someone who has current RSA training. The licensee or permit holder is responsible for ensuring that such supervision is in place​​.

Melanie Williamson

Melanie Williamson


Melanie has been working at Onstage for 17years  with her love and passion for all things entertainment and events. Prior to Onstage, Melanie worked in Hotels and Venues in various roles which gave her a strong knowledge in how all things work for events. Her entertainment  product knowledge combined with her event skills, makes her a highly sort after Stage and Events Manager (just as recently contracted for events overseas).

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