"With health consciousness and stricter enforcement, consumption is down in general," said the board's press secretary, Donna Pinkham.
One of the liquor stores feeling the pinch from the changing practices is Quakertown Wine & Spirits.
The store used to sell 30 to 40 gift certificates each to three or four companies during the holidays, general manager Bill Burkholder said. This year, the store has sold gift certificates to just one company, which bought only 15.
"We're really down," Burkholder said. "It's a combination of the economy and the fact that a lot of companies aren't having office parties or giving alcohol as presents. . . . With the drinking and driving laws, companies are being more responsible about it."
One company that used to buy plenty of alcohol for the holidays is Triangle Building, a lumber-sales company in Quakertown. Last year, the company reversed its policy on alcohol gifts.
"We used to buy $12,000 worth of alcohol for our salespeople to give to contractors and job superintendents, but we decided it was not responsible. Some of them were drinking it on the job," said Alvona Navarre, sales and marketing representative.
The company also was concerned about being held liable for alcohol-related accidents, she said. "Now we give out hams, fruit baskets, anything nonalcoholic."
Triangle Building also used to hold holiday parties with an open bar for several hours. Now, Navarre said, only wine coolers and a few cases of beer are served, along with soda and nonalcoholic punch.
"There are a lot of people who don't drink anymore," she said.
The Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Awareness Commission in Doylestown suggests serving nonalcoholic beverages at parties and is encouraging community groups to substitute alcohol with more healthful products in holiday raffles.
"We've been fairly successful in our efforts to stop the selling of traditional baskets of cheer," said Maggie Marcopul, prevention program manager for the organization. "The alternative is baskets of health, with cheeses, sparkling cider, certificates for health clubs.
"A growing body of people choose not to drink - not because they are recovering alcoholics but for health reasons or whatever."
The commission and the Liquor Control Board have distributed 600 alcohol- awareness posters that read: "Santa doesn't drink when he drives and
neither should you."
The commission also has distributed to county employees about 3,500 fliers that give nonalcoholic holiday recipes and party tips to help guests leave parties sober.
For guests who are drinking too much, the commission suggests feeding them so their bodies absorb alcohol more slowly and engaging them in conversation to curb their drinking.
"Holiday time, whether it's Christmas, Hanukah or New Year's, is traditionally a problem for the adult population - when otherwise responsible people throw caution and responsibility to the wind," Marcopul said. "We want to encourage responsibility."