I have a neighbor whom I would consider a friend, though we aren’t so close that we discuss all the intimate details of our lives. I enjoy her company and she is “a regular” in my home whether it is a one-on-one visit or a neighborhood social function. I know she struggles a bit with alcohol because she has shared this information with me. She often says she is “taking a break from drinking” or “on a cleanse” – but other times she will enjoy a glass (or more) of wine in my home, even one day after stating that she is not drinking. I don’t have a problem at all with her decisions, but I don’t know what to say to her when she arrives for a party. Do I offer her a glass of wine? Do I not? I want to support her and her choices, but don’t want to make her feel like she is being watched. What should I say?
Confused Cocktail Waitress
First, I applaud you for being a true, thoughtful, kind friend that refuses to jump to a place of judgment. Clearly, you’ve got the gracious hostess thing down pat. The best way to handle this situation, in my opinion, is to simply offer your friend a variety of choices and let her make the call. Try saying this: “Thanks for being here tonight, Christine. What can I get you to drink? I have lemonade punch, sparkling water, tea, and wine.” By doing this, you are giving Christine the dignity of making her own decision; and if or when she comes to you and shares that she is making a permanent decision to abstain from alcohol, you can put your supportive ways on display. Ask her if she would prefer you not serve alcohol at your home when she is present or if she wants to navigate social scenarios solo, and emphasize that regardless of her decision, you are on board. Either way, you are being a good friend and a considerate hostess – and that’s something to drink to, if you’re so inclined.