Exempt Events and Private Parties

Events Exempt from Special Event Permit Requirements
In certain situations, state law allows alcoholic beverages to be served without a Special Event Liquor Permit. To qualify for this exemption, ALL of the following conditions must be met:
  • The host entity must be an organization or political candidate qualified to hold a Special Event Liquor Permit.
  • Attendance at the event must be limited to members of the host entity and its guests only. The host should know, in advance of the event, individual persons who are invited to attend. The number of guests must be reasonable and may not be unlimited.
  • The event must be on private property not accessible by the public. There must not be a liquor license on this property. Areas normally open to the public, such as parks or city facilities, may qualify as private through an appropriate legal document giving the sponsor exclusive use of the area for the duration of the event. Adequate control must be demonstrated to ensure access only to those eligible to attend.
  • Alcohol must be served free of charge. If there is an admission charge to the event, it must be the same for all entrants, whether alcohol is consumed or not.
Private Parties
The State Liquor Code only specifies how alcoholic beverages may be sold or served to the public. Therefore, there is no description in state law of a private party.

So, what is a private party? Think of a dinner party in your home. You decide who to invite for a specified event and you provide food and alcohol at no charge. A large event may be a private party, but it still will have the same components as a party in your home.

Consider the following when deciding if your event will be a private party:
  • Is the event open to the public? The answer must be no. An event is clearly public if it is advertised in any public venue, such as newspaper, radio, television, or flyers/posters in public places. It also qualifies as public if a person not on the original guest list can acquire an invitation through purchase of a membership, ticket, or any other item that gains him or her admission to the event.
  • Your guest list must contain names of specific individuals and be limited in number. While this number may be large, you as a host are still required to know the names on the list, and to ensure that only those invited attend the event.
  • If a person who is not on the invited guest list contacts you and asks to be invited and you agree, then the event has just become open to the public.
  • Your invitations may be directed to a particular individual only, an individual plus a guest, or an individual plus specified guests. An example would be a company holiday party, where employees and their families are invited. You as a host have an expectation of how many guests an employee may bring.
  • You may not charge for alcohol in any way. This includes accepting donations or charging for admission.
  • The host cannot provide a location, glassware, or mixers for a recurring event.
If your event does not qualify as either an exempt event or a private party, you probably need a Special Event Liquor Permit.