Beer in a pint glass surrounded by lights

Here’s a handy guide to prepare your survival of the holiday season by making sure you don’t get stuck without beer (or other libations).

Can You Buy Alcohol in Your State on Christmas or New Year’s Day?

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The holidays bring a parade of parties, feasts, and libations. But some of you celebrating the season may find yourselves without a glass of beer (or another cup of holiday cheer) if you wait until the day of that holiday to buy your booze. Even though Prohibition ended way back in 1933, many states maintain Prohibition-era laws. And some of those ban the sales of various types of alcohol on Sundays and on certain holidays.

Such a freeze on holiday alcohol sales is mostly limited to New Year’s Day and the major Christian holidays, but many of non-Christian holidays overlap with Christmas and, as such, might be affected by such bans. For reference, here are the dates and days of the weeks for major upcoming holidays:

Arkansas

While you can buy wine and beer in grocery stores, Arkansas law bans all alcohol sales on Christmas Day. This means you can’t buy wine, beer, or liquor anywhere—including at bars. An attempt was made to amend the law in 2017, but it failed. Sunday sales are also banned in some counties. For more details on the Natural State’s weird alcohol laws, see here.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day All alcohol All locations
Sundays Based on County Based on County

Colorado

Grocery stores in Colorado can now sell full-strength wine and beer (thanks to a 2016 bill). But, takeaway alcohol sales are still banned on Christmas day. Weed is, apparently, still totally dank (and legal for sale) on the holiday.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day Liquor Retail

Connecticut

Connecticut bans takeaway alcohol on Thanksgiving, Christmas day, and New Year’s Day. This means that, even though you can normally buy beer in grocery stores, they won’t be able to sell beer on these holidays. At least Christmas and New Year’s don’t fall on Sundays—the state also maintains a wacky rule that bans alcohol sales on the Monday following a Sunday Christmas and New Year’s. Still, state law requires retail alcohol stores close up on or before 6pm on Sundays so, keep that in mind.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day All alcohol Retail
New Year’s Day All alcohol Retail
Thanksgiving All alcohol Retail

Georgia

You have to hand it to the state of Georgia—the state puts a lot of regulatory power in the hands of individual counties. This includes alcohol regulation. While sales are generally prohibited on Christmas day, municipalities (with 400,000 or more residents) can decide if they want to allow Christmas Day alcohol sales after 12:30pm. Similarly, after overturning the statewide Sunday sales ban, counties now also determine if alcohol can be sold on the day. Since then, the majority of counties went wet, but about a third are still dry.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day Based on County Based on County
Sundays Based on County Based on County

Idaho

As a control state, liquor (anything with higher than a 15% alcohol content) may only be purchased at state-run stores, but beer and wine are sold in grocery and specialty stores. Though the state repealed its ban on Election Day sales back in 2009, the state still prohibits retail liquor sales on Christmas.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day Liquor Retail
Thanksgiving Liquor Retail
Sundays Based on County Based on County

Kansas

As the state that held onto Prohibition longest—until 1948—Kansas is not terribly alcohol-friendly. Most alcohol is only sold in liquor stores, but 3.2 beer or “cereal malt beverages” under state code can be sold in grocery stores and gas stations. Unsurprisingly, the state bans all retail alcohol sales on Christmas.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day All alcohol Retail
Sundays Based on County Based on County

Massachusetts

In a state famous for its historical link to Puritanism, it’s no surprise that the law prohibits the retail sale of all alcohol on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving. Surprisingly, in 2016 the legislature approved an amendment ending the ban on retail alcohol sales on the Monday following a Sunday Christmas. That’s some progress, I suppose, but there are plenty more weird alcohol laws left on the books.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day All alcohol Retail
Thanksgiving All alcohol Retail

Minnesota

Minnesota bans sale of takeaway “intoxicating liquor,” on Thanksgiving and Christmas—beginning at 8pm on Christmas Eve and continuing through the next day. While Sunday sales are recently legal and you can now buy beer in grocery stores, the state defines “intoxicating liquor” as anything over 3.2 percent alcohol by weight (ABW). So functionally all alcohol sales are banned on these holidays.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Eve All alcohol Retail (after 8pm)
Christmas Day All alcohol Retail
Thanksgiving All alcohol Retail

Mississippi

Mississippi: bans “package store” alcohol sales on Sunday and Christmas day. “Package stores,” i.e.,  wine and liquor stores, may not sell their wares on Sundays or Christmas. Beer and light wine (both under 5% ABW) can be sold in grocery stores where holiday and Sunday alcohol bans appear not to apply.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day All alcohol >5% ABW Liquor/wine retail
Thanksgiving All alcohol >5% ABW Liquor/wine retail
Sunday All alcohol >5% ABW Liquor/wine retail

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is among those states where liquor can only be purchased in state-run stores. Though there are no official holiday bans in the state’s statute, these stores close on Christmas Day and have, in previous years, limited hours of operations on Christmas Eve and New Year’s. In this state it’s best to assume that at best you’ll have until 5pm on Christmas Eve and 6pm on New Year’s Eve with no liquor sales on Christmas day.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas liquor Liquor retail

New Mexico

New Mexico prohibits the sale of takeaway liquor on Christmas day. Sunday sales laws are county-by-county.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day All alcohol Retail
Sundays Based on County Based on County

New York

North Carolina is another control state in which state statute requires stores be closed on Sundays and most holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. That means you have until 9pm the night before the holidays (apart from Sunday) to buy liquor. Luckily, wine and beer are sold in grocery stores so if you miss out on the liquor you can still get some fabulous craft beer.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day All alcohol Retail

North Carolina

North Carolina is another control state in which state statute requires stores be closed on Sundays and most holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. That means you have until 9pm the night before the holidays (apart from Sunday) to buy liquor. Luckily, wine and beer are sold in grocery stores so if you miss out on the liquor you can still get some fabulous craft beer.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day Liquor only Retail
New Year’s Day Liquor only Retail
Thanksgiving Liquor only Retail
Sundays Liquor only Retail

North Dakota

North Dakota allows takeaway sales after noon on Sundays, but bars retail alcohol sales on Christmas Day or after 6pm on Christmas Eve.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Eve All alcohol All retail (after 6pm)
Christmas Day All alcohol Retail
Thanksgiving All alcohol Retail

Ohio

Ohio is another of the control states, so your ability to buy liquor depends on state-owned stores or their subcontractors. In previous years the Ohio Division of Liquor Control has held to a policy of remaining closed on Christmas day.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day Liquor Retail

Oklahoma

Until this September, retail alcohol greater than 3.2% had to be sold at room temperature, but you can now buy full-strength, cold beer in Oklahoma. Hooray. But, the state still bans all retail alcohol sales on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Counties have the option of enacting additional bans on holidays and Sundays.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day All alcohol Retail
Thanksgiving All alcohol Retail
Sundays Based on county Based on county

Pennsylvania

The Keystone State has to be one of the worst when it comes to regulating alcohol. Until recently, you had to visit three separate types of stores to get beer, wine, and liquor. A growing number of grocery and convenience stores now sell beer and wine. However, retail liquor is limited to the state-run stores which are notorious for their limited hours of operation. Some are open on Sundays, but most aren’t and they are closed on Christmas, New Year’s Day, or Thanksgiving and close early on the eve before these holidays.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Eve Liquor Retail after 6pm
Christmas day Liquor Retail
New Year’s Day Liquor Retail
New Year’s Eve Liquor Retail after 8pm
Thanksgiving Liquor Retail

South Carolina

South Carolina law makes it illegal to sell liquor on Christmas Day and on Sundays. When it comes to beer and wine sales on Sunday, counties get to decide. On top of all that, the Governor can apparently proclaim a retail liquor ban on any day and for any length of time “in the interest of law and order or public morals and decorum.” But I’m pretty sure Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is aware that doing so would be political suicide.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day Liquor Retail
Sundays All alcohol Liquor: All sales.

Beer/wine: by county.

South Dakota

On Christmas day, you can buy wine and beer, but not takeaway liquor in South Dakota. On Sundays, retail liquor might also be banned, but it depends on county law.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day Liquor Retail
Sundays Liquor Based on county

Tennessee

Retail sales of wine and liquor are prohibited on Christmas, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Sundays.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day Liquor/wine Retail
New Year’s Day Liquor/wine Retail
Thanksgiving Liquor/Wine All retail
Sundays Liquor/Wine All retail

Texas

Texas law bans the sale and serving of hard liquor (anything over 17 percent alcohol by volume) on Sundays. On Christmas and New Year’s Day, all alcohol sales—retail and on premise—are barred. If either holiday falls on a Sunday, sales are banned on the following Monday, too.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Liquor Retail
New Year’s Day Liquor Retail
Mondays following Christmas/New Year’s Liquor Retail
Thanksgiving Liquor Retail
Sundays Alcohol >17% Retail

Utah

Utah is a state that’s notorious for its weird relationship with alcohol and, to this day, retail alcohol over 4% ABV is sold exclusively by state-run stores. What this means it that, except for near-beer, your ability to purchase alcohol depends on what the state stores decide to do and they are closed on Sundays and holidays, so plan accordingly.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day All alcohol Retail
New Year’s Day All alcohol Retail
Thanksgiving All alcohol Retail
Sundays All alcohol* Most retail

*If you don’t plan ahead and find your liquor cabinet dry, there is a nice loop-hole in state law that allows some distilleries, breweries, and wineries to sell takeaway alcohol directly to consumers, seven days a week. Of course, they might still be closed on any given holiday as well.

Virginia

Despite efforts to privatize, Virginia remains a “control state,” where retail spirit sales are limited to state-run stores. Thanks to a 2016 change in the law, these stores can now open on Sunday (after noon), but will be closed on Christmas with limited hours on New Year’s Day.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day Liquor Retail

Ban on Sales Alcohol Banned

West Virginia

West Virginia, like Virginia, is a control state, although the state itself no longer runs the retail stores. But, according to the alcohol beverage authority, sales of spirits (retail only) are prohibited on Sundays and Christmas Day.

Ban on SalesAlcohol BannedSales Banned
Christmas Day Liquor Retail
Sunday Liquor Retail

Hopefully this guide will help you get the most out of the holiday season.

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