The holidays bring parties, feasts, and visits with friends and family, many of whom haven’t seen each other in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, while alcohol prohibition officially ended 88 years ago, remnants of our nation’s puritan origins and morality-based desire to control adults’ substance use persist around the states, including bans on the sale of alcohol during specific (mainly Christian) holidays and on Sundays. So, to help avoid finding yourself without a cup of cheer, here is CEI’s updated state-by-state guide for buying booze during the winter holidays.
Winter Holidays 2021.
- Hanukkah (11/28-12/6) Sunday through Monday
- Christmas (12/25) Saturday
- Kwanzaa (12/26-1/1) Sunday through Saturday
- Festivus (12/23)
- New Year’s Eve (12/31) Friday
- New Year’s Day (1/1) Saturday
Alabama. As a “control” state, the only place one can buy takeaway spirits in ‘Bama is at state-run stores, which close at 9 p.m., aren’t open on Sundays, and are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day (in addition to other holidays). On the plus side, beer and wine are sold at grocery stores in “wet” counties and it seems a safe bet that they will continue to do so during the holidays if they are open.
Alaska. Alaska limits spirits sales to liquor stores, but beer and wine can be sold at grocery stores and the state appears not to have any restrictions on sales during the winter holidays. Sunday sales aren’t banned throughout the state, though some towns may still bar Sunday sales.
Arizona. All types of alcohol are available in grocery and convenience stores, there are no holiday-specific restrictions, and Sunday sales are allowed.
Arkansas. If you live in the “Natural State” and plan to have booze at Christmas dinner, you better plan ahead. Many counties remain completely “dry” or “damp” and, despite attempts to change the law, the state bans all alcohol sales on Christmas Day; that means you will not only be unable to buy booze at shops, you won’t even be able to get a drink at a bar. On the plus side, during the pandemic the legislature enacted new laws to allow retailers, restaurants, and certain alcohol producers (like local breweries) to deliver booze directly to homes (any day except Christmas, of course). Despite a recent attempt to change the law, the state currently disallows Sunday sales.
California. No holiday-specific restrictions and Sunday sales are allowed.
Colorado. As the first state in the country to decriminalize cannabis, one might think Colorado would be pretty liberal on the use of all substances, but that is unfortunately not the case. It is illegal to sell alcohol in sealed containers on Christmas anywhere in the state, the only day on the calendar when that is the case. That means you won’t be able to enjoy alcoholic eggnog, wine, or local brews at home on Christmas day unless you make sure to buy them ahead of the holiday. For cannabis users, there doesn’t appear to be any statewide prohibition against dispensaries opening on the holidays, but many shops have already announced that they will not open on Christmas day. Sunday sales are legal in Colorado.
Connecticut.While Connecticut allows beer to be sold in grocery stores, all other off-premise alcohol sales are restricted to liquor stores. And, regardless of where it is sold, state law prohibits any off-premise alcohol sales on Thanksgiving, Christmas day, New Year’s Day (including at grocery stores). Sunday sales are legal.
As recently as 2011, the Nutmeg State maintained the odd rule of prohibiting alcohol sales on the Monday following Christmas and New Year’s Day when they fall on a Sunday. But, this rule no longer appears in the state’s General Statutes, so, presumably, it should not affect the 2022 holiday season, when both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on a Sunday.
District of Columbia.No holiday-specific or Sunday sales restrictions. Wine and beer can be sold in grocery and convenience stores. Distilled spirits can only be sold at liquor stores.
Delaware. One of the few remaining states that disallows the sales of any alcohol at grocery stores, Delaware also bans off-premise alcohol sales and deliveries on Sundays, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas.
Florida. No holiday-specific restrictions; beer and wine can be purchased on grocery stores, but only liquor stores may sell distilled spirits. Sunday sales are legal.
Georgia. If you happen to be in the Peach State during the holidays, there is good news and bad news. On the good side, you can buy beer and wine at convenience and grocery stores (distilled spirits can only be purchased at licensed package stores) and during the pandemic the governor signed laws to permanently authorize restaurants to sell cocktails to go and to allow liquor stores, but not local breweries or distilleries, to deliver booze to residences. On the bad or, at least, more complicated side, buying booze on Sundays and on Christmas depends on the county or municipality. Since 2011, Georgia counties have had the option to allow Sunday sales, as Atlanta’s Fulton County has done. Christmas Day sales, on the other hand, are generally permitted except in those municipalities where they are banned, as in Augusta–Richmond. For more county and city specifics, consult localalcohollaws.com and, as always, call ahead if you’re uncertain.
Hawaii. No holiday-specific restrictions, no Sunday sales ban, and you can purchase beer, wine, and spirits in grocery stores.
Idaho. A control state, the only place to buy any alcoholic beverage over 16 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) is at state-run stores and state law prohibits those stores to be open on Thanksgiving, Christmas or Memorial Day. Beer and wine can be sold at grocery stores and Sunday sales are legal.
Illinois.There areno holiday-specific restrictions on sales for the state, all types of alcohol are available at grocery stores, and Sunday sales are allowed.
Indiana. Indiana has liberalized alcohol sales in recent years, allowing Christmas Day alcohol sales since 2015 and authorizing takeaway alcohol during the pandemic. Alcohol can also be purchased at grocery stores, but all off-premise Sundays sales are limited to the hours of noon to 8 p.m., something to keep in mind for next year’s Christmas, which will fall on a Sunday. There are no other holiday-specific restrictions.
Iowa. While technically a control state, the Iowa state government controls only the wholesale distribution of spirits, with private licensees, including grocery and convenience stores, handling retail sales of spirits, wine, and beer. Sunday sales are legal after 6 a.m. and there appear to be no holiday-specific restrictions on retailers, though they may choose to voluntarily close on the holidays.
Kansas. While grocery and convenience stores in Kansas can now sell beer with up to 6 percent ABV, the sale of wine and spirits remains limited to licensed package stores and state law prohibits retailers from selling alcohol on Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. Sunday sales are allowed.
Kentucky. Though the alcohol laws in Kentucky have been somewhat updated in recent years (such as allowing home delivery as of 2019), some counties remain dry. But, if you’re not in a dry county, it appears alcohol sales are allowed on Sundays (where authorized by the county) and on all holidays, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve and Day.
Louisiana. This should come as no surprise, but the state of Louisiana places very few restrictions on where and when you can buy alcohol. That said, there remain many parishes with their own restrictions, like Winn Parish, which prohibits the sale or even serving of alcohol on holidays, including Christmas. Additionally, many parishes, mostly in the north of the state, continue to bar Sunday sales, which again is something to keep in mind for the 2022 holiday season (see this parish-by-parish map of where Sunday sales are banned).
Maine. Though another control state, Maine allows the sale of all alcohol at grocery stores, in addition to privately run liquor stores, and the state doesn’t appear to ban sales on any holiday or Sundays. But be careful if you’re visiting the state over the holidays, as there are a few remaining dry towns.
Maryland. Not exactly a control “state,” Maryland does contain its own control county. Montgomery County, the most populous in the state, controls the sale of all alcohol through its own county-run stores (in addition to the three grocery stores grandfathered-in to sell beer and wine). Seeing as how “MoCo” stores tend to be closed on major holidays, it’s a good bet they won’t be open on Christmas or New Year’s Day. As for the rest of the state, holiday and Sunday sales depend on the county and only a few grocery stores are allowed to sell beer and wine. So, if you’re in the southern part of the Free State, plan ahead or prepare to drive over the border to D.C. for last-minute booze buying.
Massachusetts. As the birthplace of puritanism in America, one might assume Massachusetts has pretty restrictive rules on alcohol and other pleasurable substances. And that assumption would be largely correct. While the state does allow the sale of beer, wine, and spirits at grocery stores, retail alcohol sales are prohibited on certain holidays, including Christmas Day. Sunday sales are legal.
Michigan. Another control state, Michigan controls the wholesale distribution of spirits, but not retail sales of alcoholic beverages. Throughout the state, you can purchase beer and wine at grocery and convenience stores and spirits at privately run package stores. Thanks to a bill enacted in 2019, Michigan no longer prohibits the sale of alcohol on Christmas Day after noon. Sunday sales are legal.
Minnesota. Minnesota may be the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but state law sure doesn’t make it easy for you to wet your whistle on the holidays. The only place one can buy booze is at liquor stores, though grocery and convenience stores may sell beer if it’s under 3.2 percent ABV (though these beers are getting harder to come by). Furthermore, off-premise sales of all alcohol are prohibited on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and Christmas Eve after 8 p.m. On the plus side, as of 2017, Minnesota allows alcohol sales on Sundays between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Mississippi. With some of the more restrictive and persnickety alcohol laws, residents and visitors to the Magnolia State during the holidays should take extra care. Based on state statute, liquor stores are the only place to buy strong wine and spirits, while lighter beverages can only be sold by grocery and convenience stores. That means that if you want to buy hard liquor over 6 percent ABW (7.5 percent ABV) or wine over 5 percent ABW (6.25 percent ABV) you will have to head to your local liquor store, which must be closed on Sundays and Christmas Day. If what you want is light wine (under 5 percent ABW), light spirits (beverages with distilled spirits that are less than 6 percent ABW), or beer under 8 percent ABW (10 percent ABV) you’ll have to find it at a grocery or convenience store. Fortunately, state law doesn’t appear to restrict grocery or convenience sales on Sundays or holidays (though tat might vary by county).
Unfortunately, if you happen to be a fan of high-gravity beer, such as imperial ales or anything with “double” or “triple” in the name, you’re out of luck in Mississippi. Thanks to the hard work of grassroots advocates, the state in 2012 raised the limit of alcohol allowed in beer from 5 percent to 8 percent ABW (10 percent ABV), but that’s it. Mississippi continues to ban all sales of beer over 8 percent ABW; you can’t get it in any store or even on tap. On the plus side, breweries in the state can brew higher alcohol beer; they just can’t sell it within Mississippi’s borders.
Missouri.There are no holiday-specific or Sunday sales restrictions in Missouri and you can purchase beer, wine, and spirits in grocery and convenience stores, but state-run liquor stores are closed on all legal holidays, including Christmas and New Year’s Day,
Montana.The only place you can buy distilled spirits in Montana is at state-run stores, which close on Sundays and state holidays, but beer and wine (under 16 percent ABV) are available at grocery and convenience stores and do not appear to have any holiday-related restrictions.
Nebraska. There areno holiday-specific restrictions on alcohol sales, all types of alcohol are available at grocery and convenience stores, and Sunday sales are allowed after 6 a.m.
Nevada.It probably goes without saying, but the home of Sin City has very few restrictions on alcohol sales or consumption (except for one tiny town). Beer, wine, and spirits are sold in grocery and convenience stores, Sunday sales are legal, public intoxication isn’t considered a crime—state law prevents local governments from making it such—and there are no restrictions on holiday sales.
New Hampshire. New Hampshire is a control states where liquor can only be purchased in one of about 70 state-run stores. Alcoholic beverages under 6 percent ABV can be sold in grocery and convenience stores and Sunday sales are allowed. While there are no legal restrictions on holiday sales, state-run stores are closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Additionally, based on previous years, liquor stores will likely close by 5 or 6 p.m. on the Eve of Christmas and New Year’s, so plan accordingly.
New Jersey.There are no holiday-specific restrictions on alcohol sales, beer and wine are sold in grocery and convenience stores, and Sunday sales are allowed.
New Mexico. There are no holiday-specific restrictions on alcohol sales, beer and wine are sold in grocery and convenience stores, and, as of 2021, Sunday sales and home delivery by restaurants and liquor stores is allowed.
New York.While beer can be sold in grocery stores in the Empire State, wine and liquor are only available at package stores and state law requires those stores to be closed on Christmas Day. Sunday sales are allowed after 8 a.m. for beer and noon for all other alcoholic beverages.
North Carolina. Though there has been talk in recent years about privatization, the government continues to operate all liquor stores in North Carolina. State law prohibits liquor stores from operating on Sundays and most major holidays, including Christmas and New Year’s Day. This means you have until 9 p.m. the evening before these holidays to purchase bottled liquor. However, beer and wine are available in grocery and convenience stores and there appear to be no prohibitions on their sale during holidays.
North Dakota.Grocery and convince stores are allowed to sell all types of alcohol and Sunday sales are allowed, but North Dakota state law prohibits the sale of all alcohol (including at bars and restaurants) on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and after 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Ohio. Beer and wine—under 21 percent ABV—are available in grocery and convenience stores but, Ohio being a control state, distilled spirits can only be purchased at state stores (now operated by independent contractors rather than by the state itself). Ohio doesn’t appear to have prohibition on the sale of alcoholic beverages during the holidays, but in previous years these stores have been closed on Christmas Day, so it would be wise to plan ahead. Sunday sales are allowed after 11 a.m.
Oklahoma. Thanks to voters, Oklahoma law no longer restricts the strength of beer that can be sold in grocery stores, so booze buyers can now purchase beer and wine at grocery and convenience stores. Spirits, however, are still limited to limited to liquor stores and state law bars off-premise retail sale of distilled spirits on Christmas and Thanksgiving. Sunday sales are allowed in certain counties.
Oregon. Beer and wine are available at grocery and convenience stores, but spirits can only be purchased at state-run liquor stores (though this may change in 2022). Fortunately, Oregon gives stores the option to be open on any holiday, but this is no guarantee that your local shop will choose to open on Christmas or New Year’s so, as the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission has recommended in previous years, call ahead or make your purchases beforehand. Sunday sales are also allowed in Oregon.
Pennsylvania.As anyone from the Keystone State will tell you, figuring out where to buy specific types of alcohol in Pennsylvania is a tricky affair. Though recent changes to state law have increased the number of places where you can purchase wine and beer, there are limits on how much you can buy; liquor can only be purchased at state-run wine and spirits shops. Though some of these shops are open on Sundays, most are not. State-run stores will be closed on Christmas, New Year’s Day, and after 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, so if you happen to be in Pennsylvania over the holidays, you should definitely start your alcohol shopping early.
Rhode Island.Rhode Island limits the sale of all retail alcohol to liquor stores and state law requires those stores to be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Sunday sales are allowed.
South Carolina. Beer and wine can be sold in grocery and convenience stores, but spirits are limited to liquor stores. State law makes it unlawful to sell liquor (but not beer and wine) on Christmas Day, but this appears to be the only statewide holiday restriction.Sunday sales are allowed in certain counties.
South Dakota.While you can purchase all types of alcohol in grocery stores, the state bans the sale of distilled spirits on Christmas and on Memorial Day. Sunday sales are now allowed, but this depends on your county.
Tennessee. Under new laws, Tennesseans can now buy alcohol on Sundays, but the state continues to prohibit takeaway alcohol sales on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.
Texas.Thanks to updated laws, Texans can now purchase takeaway beer and wine on Sundays and be served beer, wine, or mixed drinks (if served with food) after 10 a.m., but liquor sales remain off-limits on Sunday. Beer and wine are available for purchase at grocery and convenience stores, but liquor can only be sold at liquor stores and, according to state law, those stores must close on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Additionally, if Christmas or New Year’s Day fall on a Sunday—as they will in 2022—state law requires liquor stores to remain closed on the following Monday.
Utah.If you live in Utah, you’re probably already well-aware of the many hurdles the Beehive State puts between you and buying alcohol. Except for beer under 5 percent ABV, which can be sold in grocery stores, the only place to purchase alcohol to go in the state is at state-run liquor stores. And state law prohibits these state-run stores from operating on Sundays and state or federal holidays, including Christmas and New Year’s Day. In addition, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control closes its shops early on the day preceding these holidays, ending sales at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
Vermont.Though the state has mulled privatization, Vermont continues to allow the sale of liquor only at its own stores (operated by contractors). State law caps the allowable alcohol content in beer to 16 percent ABV. On the plus side, the state does allow beer (under 16 percent ABV) and wine to be sold in grocery and convenience stores, allows Sunday sales, and does not have any statutory prohibition on holiday alcohol sales. That said, it’s a good bet that many—if not all—state liquor stores will be closed on the major winter holidays, so plan ahead.
Virginia.Residents and visitors to the Old Dominion can get beer and wine in grocery and convenience stores, but, despite attempts at privatization, the Commonwealth of Virginia continues to limit the sale of distilled spirits to state-run ABC stores. While these stores can now be open on Sundays, state law still requires them to close on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Washington.Washington state allows the sale of all alcoholic beverages at grocery and convenience stores, there are no prohibition on holiday sales, and Sunday sales are allowed.
West Virginia.West Virginia allows the sale of all types of alcohol at grocery and convenience stores and Sunday sales are legal as of 2019, but state law still prohibits retail (takeaway) sale of distilled spirits on Easter and Christmas, so plan accordingly.
Wisconsin.Cheeseheads are in luck, as the state of Wisconsin is taking an increasingly liberal approach to alcohol sales. Currently, the state allows the sale of all alcohol at grocery and convenience stores and Sunday sales, and does not appear to have any prohibitions on holiday sales.
Wyoming. Though a control state, Wyoming does allow the sale of all types of alcohol in grocery and convenience stores, allowsSunday sales, and has no statutory prohibition on holiday sales. However, local municipalities may have their own restrictions so you’d better call ahead if you plan on last-minute alcohol shopping during the holidays.
Puerto Rico.Puerto Rico allows all alcohol to be sold at grocery and convenience stores and doesn’t appear to have any holiday-specific restrictions, but many businesses will be closed on the holidays, particularly Christmas. In addition to this, former Governor Wanda Vázquez prohibited Sunday alcohol sales during the COVID-19 pandemic and it isn’t clear if that presumably temporary prohibition is still in effect or—if it is—when it will be lifted.