THERE could be no room at the inn for festive revellers this Christmas thanks to a licensing shambles.
Experts warn a third of Welsh pubs face being shut down for the party season as just 7% of pubs across the nation have applied for new licences - with the clock ticking towards an August deadline.
If they fail, it's time at the bar, with thousands of pubs across booze-loving Wales facing shutdown.
Even pub giant Brains is struggling with only 20 applications for its 254 trade pubs made.
And last night a top legal expert gazed into his pint and issued this nightmare hangover: "I could see 30% of pubs being forced to shut their doors".
The chaos comes from new government regulations demanding every pub, club, restaurant and shop serving drink applies for a new licence this year.
Wales on Sunday surveyed every Welsh council, covering a total of 16,176 licensed premises. By last night just 1,139 - or 7% - had submitted their application to the council.
After Saturday, August 6, they will have to submit an entirely new business plan - and if the new licence is not in place by November 24, it will be operating illegally and shut down.
And that could make it a very thirsty Christmas.
Mark Perry, head of licensing at Cardiff-based solicitors Hugh James, said confusion over the new law was giving landlords "terrific difficulties".
"It's going to have a fairly dramatic effect. I think a lot of people thought the Government would change its mind," he said.
"But the Government's said it isn't extending the deadline, so they've got seven weeks. Unless landlords wake up to it very quickly they're in for a big shock."
Just 140 of Cardiff's 1,200 premises have submitted their applications. In Newport it's 36 from 600 and in Wrexham 49 from 420.
And police are unlikely to be troubled too much by drink-drivers in Powys, where only FOUR of the county's 856 pubs, clubs and restaurants have applied. A spokeswoman admitted it was "not great".
The new licence applications have especially hit small operators, who have found the multi-page forms complex.
But the big chains are also struggling with the bureaucracy.
Philip Lay, retail director of Brains, said the brewery had only managed to submit 20 applications and had yet to get a response to any.