The 12 Pubs of Christmas

The 12 Pubs of Christmas

What is the 12 Pubs of Christmas?

The 12 Pubs of Christmas has become a popular celebration in Ireland to mark the end of the year. A spin on the 12 days of Christmas the celebration involves 12 pubs, a group of friends, lots of drink, and a set of wacky rules.

As you can imagine, 12 pubs and a lot of drink is a recipe for disaster but it could be the greatest night of the year.

Planning the 12 Pubs of Christmas

There really isn’t too much planning involved with the 12 Pubs of Christmas. The basics of what you should know beforehand is really the who, the when, the where, and the rules for the night. If you are looking to travel to another town or village for the celebration then, of course, a little more planning is involved, we’ll just stick with the basics.

The who – Draw up a list of people who should be invited but remember, think twice about inviting that mate who’s a bit too mad on the drink,  for the sanity of the group. There is no strict size to how many people be part of the group but the larger the group the more chance you’ll be refused entry to certain pubs.

The where – Knowing which 12 pubs that should part of the celebration are important. Decision making after a good few drinks is usually impossible so having a list before consumption is highly advisable.

Unfortunately, pubs around the country are starting to ban party-goers of the 12 Pubs of Christmas so it’s a good idea to check with each pub before-hand. If entry is refused, be respectable at the publican’s wishes and just move onto the next pub in your list.  There is also no harm in staying in one pub rather than going to 12, turn the night into the 12 Pints of Christmas instead.

The when – Usually held on the last week running up to Christmas not everyone will be available so make sure to give everyone plenty of notice. The date selected should really come down to the decision of the group.

The rules – without rules the 12 Pubs of Christmas is simply a pub crawl, a normal weekend for some, so having some mad rules about how the group should participate adds a bit more fun.

The rules for the 12 Pubs of Christmas

There are no set rules for the 12 Pubs of Christmas but it’s usually a good idea to at least have some of the basics in place.

Some of the more popular rules include:

  • Everyone must wear a Christmas themed jumper or dress as Santa or one of his elves.
  • Silent Pub – A pub will be assigned the silent pub, the group are not allowed to talk when inside.
  • No Swearing – Bad language is not allowed, either in a single pub or all 12 pubs.
  • No toilet – None of the group are allowed to visit the toilet in designated pubs.
  • Guinness only – Only a pint of the black stuff is allowed to be ordered.
  • Left-handed – Drink using your left hand only, left-hand people must use their right.
  • Left person – Feed the pint to the person on your left.
  • No names – Nobody is allowed to be called by their name.
  • Pub crawl – A round of pints must be bought by crawling on hands & knees.
  • Father Jack – Quote Father Jack for every sip of a drink. Quotes already said are not allowed.
  • No phones – Phones must be switched off until the 12 nights of Christmas is finished.
  • Carol singing – Each person sings a Christmas carol or a snippet in at least one pub.

No rules are set in stone so be imaginative but also be considered of other pub-goers and the bar staff.

Breaking rules of the 12 Pubs of Christmas

Just like the rules, there are no set punishments so it really comes down to the imagination.

Some common punishments for breaking the rules:

  • Take a single shot.
  • Down a full pint in one.
  • Stand at the front of the bar and announce yourself.
  • Attempt a hand-stand.
  • No longer allowed to speak for the entire duration of the next round.
  • No drink on the next round and a bag of peanuts must be eaten (crisps for those with nut allergies).

Having a Christmas celebration to remember

Doing the 12 pubs of Christmas really is binge drinking but rather than give out a tsk, tsk, tsk of disapproval we’d rather give some friendly advice.

  • Eat well before the event is about to start. Drinking on an empty stomach is never a good thing.
  • Tell your family of your whereabouts. Some people will leave the list of pubs on the fridge door, just in case.
  • Ensure your transport home is prearranged before you start drinking.
  • Pace yourself when drinking. Visiting 12 pubs can take time but that’s no excuse to down your pint.
  • Drink water. A pint of water every 3 pints of alcohol might save you from a seriously bad hangover.
  • Choosing your drinks. If no rules dictate what the drinks are on the menu then choose carefully, multiple shots in different pubs is a recipe for a disaster.
  • Don’t be afraid to drop out. Not everyone can handle 6 pints never mind 12, don’t be afraid to call it a night.

If you do take part in the 12 Pubs of Christmas always remember, have a good time and don’t take the rules too seriously.

Last updated January 7, 2020.

About the Author

Dave Donnelly
Dave has a passion for anything relating to Ireland.