Guidelines for Hosting a Safe Event

As the event host, you are responsible for taking reasonable steps to enforce and comply with local, Virginia, and federal laws and UVA regulations governing the use of alcohol. Be a good role model for others by modeling the behavior you expect of your guests. Model legal, safe, and appropriate behaviors.

If there will be guests under the legal drinking age of 21 present at your event:

  • Clearly identify individuals who are of legal age and who possess and/or consume alcohol by a wristband, hand stamp, or other type of highly visible identification.
  • For a large event, have an area designated as an alcoholic beverage service and consumption area. Have some type of physical barrier at which all access and egress is controlled. This may include a partition, a roped area, a separate room, etc. Only individuals of legal age should enter this area, and no alcohol should leave this area. Appropriate signage should be in place.


  • Serve all drinks to guests rather than having a self-serve bar. This allows you to monitor guests who may be intoxicated. Remind bartenders that it is illegal to serve anyone who appears intoxicated. Bartenders must be 21 years of age or older.
  • Appoint a beverage manager to be responsible for the supervision of individuals serving beverages and ensuring that beverage servers are in compliance with all laws and University policies.
  • Make nonalcoholic beverages available and as accessible as alcoholic beverages. Be imaginative; serve a nonalcoholic drink that goes with the theme of the event.
  • If you are serving alcohol, serve lower-alcohol beverages (e.g., beer or wine).


  • When estimating food and nonalcoholic drinks, always round up. Try to guess what items will be most popular. Remember that more options mean smaller individual portions. If you are running out of food or nonalcoholic drinks during your event, it is recommended to discontinue alcohol service.
  • Make substantial food (e.g., pizza, cheese, meats, bagels, etc.) available and accessible throughout the duration of the event. Always have food when alcohol is served, as it slows the absorption of alcohol.
  • Avoid serving salty, sweet, or greasy foods as guests will become thirstier. High-protein and starch foods such as meats, vegetables, cheeses, hummus, peanut butter, light dips, and bread are good options when alcohol is being served.
  • Serve safely. No cooked dishes, soft cheeses, cut up fruits, lunch meats, or dips should sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Use beds of ice or coolers to maintain food temperatures.

Event Managers

  • Identify at least one person as the Event Manager to check identification for proof of legal age. See Event Manager Guidelines for more information on this role.
  • Create an environment that allows your guests to feel comfortable making low-risk drinking choices, including choosing not to drink.
  • The host of an event may have a civil liability if a guest injures her/himself or others as a result of alcohol impairment. Appoint non-drinking drivers if your guests may need a ride home.
  • Stop serving alcohol about one hour before you want the event to end. This will help ensure your guests' safety on the way home.
  • Do not allow guests to engage in drinking games or to chug drinks. Drunk guests are the primary source of problems.
  • If a guest is drinking too much, start a conversation to slow down consumption and offer a nonalcoholic drink or food.
  • If someone becomes highly intoxicated, or arrives highly intoxicated, stay with the person and monitor breathing. If you have any concerns about the person’s safety, call 911 immediately.

Estimating Alcohol Quantities

As a general rule to promote moderate drinking, provide no more than one drink per person per hour. This is the expectation for University events. 

Poster that illustrates standard drink sizes for beer, wine, and liquor. Information in text below.

For beer (5% alcohol), the approximate number of standard drinks in:

  • Pony keg (7.75 gallons, 12 ounce cups) = 82
  • U.S. keg/half barrel (15.5 gallons, 12 ounce cups) = 165

For table wine (12% alcohol), the approximate number of standard drinks in:

  • a standard 750-mL (25-oz.) bottle = 5
  • a magnum (64 ounces) = 13

For 80-proof spirits, or "hard liquor," the approximate number of standard drinks in:

  • a mixed drink = 1 or more*
  • a pint (16 oz.) = 11
  • a fifth (25 oz.) = 17
  • a handle (1.75 L or 59 oz.) = 39

For 100-proof spirits, or "hard liquor," the approximate number of standard drinks in:

  • a mixed drink = 1 or more*
  • a pint (16 oz.) = 16
  • a fifth (25 oz.) = 25
  • a handle (1.75 L or 59 oz.) = 49

Note: "It can be difficult to estimate the number of standard drinks in a single mixed drink made with hard liquor. Depending on factors such as the type of spirits and the recipe, a mixed drink can contain from one to three or more standard drinks." Primary Sources: NIAAA website and Rethinking Drinking website


Use of wristbands is encouraged for the purpose of identifying event patrons who are of legal age to consume alcohol. The University does not provide wristbands. Wristbands are available for purchase from various third-party vendors. One option is through Promo Factory: [email protected].

Catering Guidelines

The tables below provide general catering guidelines:

No. of people Meats Wings Cheese Salads Bread: 3 slices per person Rolls: 1-2 per person Chips


1 lb.

12 wings

6 oz.

1 lb.

12 slices

4 - 8

8 oz.


2 lb.

24 wings

.75 lb.

2 lb.

24 slices

8 - 16

1 lb.


3 lb.

36 wings

1-1/8 lb.

3 lb.

36 slices

1 - 2 dozen

1.5 lb.


4 lb.

48 wings

1.5 lb.

4 lb.

48 slices

1.5 - 3 dozen

2 lb.


6 lb.

72 wings

2.25 lb.

6 lb.

72 slices

2 - 4 dozen

3 lb.


8 lb.

96 wings

3 lb.

8 lb.

96 slices

3 - 6 dozen

4 lb.


10 lb.

120 wings

3.75 lb.

10 lb.

120 slices

4 - 7 dozen

5 lb.


12 lb.

144 wings

4.5 lb.

12 lb.

144 slices

4 - 8 dozen

6 lb.


Appetizers before a meal

2-3 pieces per person per hour

Appetizers as a meal

5-6 pieces per person per hour

Chilled Salads

4 ounces per person

Hot Side Dishes

3-4 ounces per person (depending on number of side dishes)

Pasta as an entrée

6-8 ounces per person

Pasta as a side dish

3-4 ounces per person

Lunch Entrée Portion

4-6 ounces per person

Dinner Entrée Portion

6-8 ounces per person


3-4 ounces per person


2 per person


Coffee/1 pound

Serves 50 1-cup servings

Punch/1 gallon

Serves 32 4-ounce servings

Soda/2 liter

Serves 11 6-ounce glasses Serves 10 8-ounce glasses

University of Virginia Policy