Holiday Parties Filled with Cheer, but Low on Safety

MetLife Auto & Home Poll Finds 40 Percent of Americans Say Alcohol Consumption Increases at Holiday Parties, Yet Majority of Party Hosts Unconcerned about Liability

WARWICK, R.I.--()--With half of Americans planning to host a holiday party this season, the excitement seems to be causing some potential hosts to overlook basic safety issues when opening their homes, the latest MetLife Auto & Home American Safety Pulse Poll shows. According to the survey, only about one-third of potential hosts are concerned about avoiding common safety issues, and taking precautionary steps to prevent unnecessary accidents doesn’t seem to be on some potential hosts’ to-do lists.

“The holidays are traditionally seen as a time for us to enjoy the company of close friends and family, but there are a number of everyday safety issues many Americans may overlook while planning their parties,” said Mike Convery, chief claim officer and vice president of MetLife Auto & Home. “Simple precautions can help reduce the risk of potentially serious accidents, such as drinking and driving or holiday fires. Preparation and awareness can help assure your party is not only enjoyable, but safe for both you and your guests.”

Too Much Holiday Cheer

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows a dramatic increase in alcohol-related car crashes and fatalities over the holidays, yet only about four of 10 (44 percent) people say the number of adults drinking alcoholic beverages is greater at holiday parties than any other time throughout the year. Furthermore, fewer than half of Americans (42 percent) are concerned one of their guests would be involved in a drunk-driving-related accident after consuming alcohol on their property, and the majority (58 percent) of respondents are not concerned about the potential to be named in a lawsuit should a guest be involved in a drinking and driving accident.

There is good news, though: a majority of party hosts are taking steps to limit the likelihood of guests drinking and driving above the legal limit. According to the survey:

  • Eighty percent will likely serve food at holiday parties to help slow the absorption of alcohol.
  • More than 60 percent will likely provide a designated driver for guests.
  • About half (55 percent) will likely switch to non-alcoholic drinks at a set time during the party.

Even more encouraging, young holiday hosts (18-35 years old) are the most concerned with guests being involved in drunk driving accidents, and they are also the most likely to take steps to curb it:

  • Ninety percent will likely serve some type of food at holiday parties to help slow the absorption of alcohol.
  • Seven out of 10 (71 percent) will likely provide a designated driver for guests.
  • About half (54 percent) will likely take the keys from their guests when they arrive at the party.

Blazing Holiday Spirit

For anyone hosting a party, decorating can be essential to set the mood for festivities. This holiday season, 91 percent of people plan to decorate their homes, but many of them may actually be inadvertently exposing themselves and their families to an increased risk of fire danger if they’re not careful.

“Decorating for the holidays has become a staple of the holiday season, but homeowners need to take precautions to ensure their holiday spirit doesn’t go up in flames,” adds Convery. “In fact, only one-third (32 percent) of those polled expressed concern that their decorations might pose a fire risk to their homes and to their party guests. It’s important for hosts to exercise caution with their decorations, especially wax candles, as December has more candle-related fires than any other month of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.”

For those planning on embracing the holiday spirit with decorations, it is important to remember a few simple safety tips to minimize the chance of a holiday home fire, specifically:

  • Keep the Water Flowing – For the 46 percent of people polled celebrating with fresh-cut Christmas trees, select one that is fresh and water it regularly. Keep it away from heat sources and exits. If you use an artificial tree, make sure it is flame-resistant.
  • Blow out the Candles – For the four of 10 (37 percent) that plan to use wax candles, never leave lit Advent, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa candles unattended, and always have a candle snuffer and an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Overloaded Electronics – For the 75 percent planning to string up electric lights, it is important to remember not to overload wall outlets and extension cords – use a power strip where you can.

It’s Not the Grinch Who Stole

Opening up your home during the holiday season is a nice gesture, but common sense rules pertaining to personal safety and hospitality must apply. Only one-third of those surveyed expressed concern about the theft of their personal belongings during a party, despite the fact that in addition to inviting family (86 percent) and closer friends (74 percent) to their homes, many people planned on inviting guests they are less familiar with, including neighbors (44 percent), co-workers (31 percent) and casual acquaintances (26 percent).

This lack of concern may be because almost two-thirds (63 percent) of people take steps to protect their belongings, such as:

  • Limit party space – About four of 10 (41 percent) people will restrict their gatherings to central locations.
  • Protect valuables – Slightly fewer (37 percent) people plan to lock, hide or move their valuables to another location.

Also, many people who aren’t hosting parties may be planning a holiday trip instead – about two-thirds (65 percent) of those surveyed plan on traveling during the holiday season. However, surprisingly, 19 percent of respondents say they would not lock all doors and windows before hitting the road and just 61 percent would leave lights on or set lights on a timer system when they are away, potentially putting their homes at risk for a burglary.

Anatomy of a Holiday Party

MetLife Auto & Home has compiled essential holiday party safety information into an infographic outlining how Americans are planning for their parties and some potential pitfalls they may face. If you want to share your plans for the holidays, MetLife Auto & Home invites you to join the conversation on Facebook.

The findings are part of the third survey in the American Safety Pulse polls series, conducted for MetLife Auto & Home by ORC International, as part of a CARAVAN survey®.

MetLife Auto & Home, a brand of Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and its affiliates, is one of the nation’s leading personal lines property and casualty insurance providers, with more than 2.7 million policies in force. MetLife Auto & Home is a part of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading global provider of insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers in over 50 countries. For more information, visit

MetLife Auto & Home is a brand of Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and its affiliates, Warwick, RI.


Sarah Faria, 401-827-3906


Sarah Faria, 401-827-3906