Tips for A Sober-Friendly Holiday Party

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you can have a somewhat normal holiday this year with some of the people you love. Now, let’s suppose you want to keep things dry, cut the drama, and have a sober-friendly holiday party. The reality is that, while the holidays are supposed to represent a time of comfort and respite, especially in this particularly trying year, they can also represent the potential for alcohol-related pitfalls, relapse, or just plain drinking too much. Holiday parties where alcohol is present and people are more likely to drink can put people who are in recovery in a difficult social position. They can also cause people, in general, to drink too much and leave themselves open to, at best, embarrassment and, at worst, safety risks.

If you’re looking to have a booze-free 2020 holiday, you’re not alone but you ARE in luck! There are plenty of ways to celebrate sober. Whether you or your loved one are in recovery, or you just don’t feel like drinking this year, here are some awesome tips for a sober-friendly holiday celebration:

Mocktails Anyone?

What’s better than a delicious drink without a headache or dizziness? The chance to make one better than everybody else, of course! Try organizing a “mocktail” competition and seeing who can make the yummiest concoction. Try this eggnog recipe with more egg and less…”nog” or this “Not Toddy”, this sober cider, sober sangria, or any of these winter drinks to give you the “warm and fuzzies” without the hangover. See who can make the best one and give a prize to the winner!

Sober Secret Santa

If the “Big Guy” has taught us anything, it’s that our cheeks can be rosy without rosé, or any other type of booze. If your sober-friendly holiday party includes friends in recovery, try a Sober Santa gift exchange that includes recovery-oriented presents. These can either be more traditional things, like affirmation books, journals, or a yoga pass, or items that reflect each person’s specific journey and the interests they’ve developed since getting clean.

Make A (Guest) List and Check It Twice

Your guests determine the mood of the party. Try to curate the guest list for your sober-friendly holiday party with guests you know won’t mind a dry evening. The reality is that, sometimes, staying sober means “saying nober” to getting together with people who you know will end up encouraging you to drink. They may not think it’s important to monitor their drinking, or they may just want to “let loose” or “unwind” during the holidays, but if you’re not on the same sober page, it’s perfectly fine to tell them you’ll “see them next year”.

Make It About Anything but Drinking

Let’s face it: there are so many ways to enjoy the holidays without a drink in your hand. Focus on your food menu (don’t forget dessert), the games you’re planning, the movies you have on in the background (Muppet Christmas Carol is a must), the music you play, and every other detail that can make your sober-friendly holiday party pop! Focus on enriching every detail of your party, like food, games, and music, to enhance the overall experience. While this doesn’t guarantee that guests won’t notice the absence of alcohol, it can help create a memorable and enjoyable atmosphere.

 Put It Out There

Let your guests know when you invite them that this is a sober-friendly holiday party. Few things are worse than when someone who “doesn’t get the memo” brings booze to a dry party. Get it out there up front so there’s no awkwardness or temptation for your more vulnerable guests. If you forget to tell people that it’s a dry party, or they simply ignore the rules, pull them aside when they arrive and ask them if they can leave the alcohol in their car (unopened, of course) or anywhere in your home out of your guests’ site.

…And A Partridge in A Pear Tree

It’s also a good idea to have your party earlier in the day so your guests won’t feel tempted or inclined to drink as much. Set up fun holiday games, like Christmas Movie Trivia, Holiday Bingo, Holiday Photo Booth, and more. Experiment with different themes that don’t include drinking.

As always, whether you’re in recovery or simply want to cut down on your drinking, have a plan in place to leave a party where there is alcohol if you feel pressured or uncomfortable. Never get behind the wheel if you have consumed any amount of alcohol, not just ‘too much,’ and always have a plan for a safe way home, such as a designated driver or a ride service.

Finally, if you or someone you care about has relapsed or discovered they have a drinking problem this holiday season, get the help you need immediately and make this year the year that you take back your life from alcohol addiction. Happy, Healthy, and Sober Holidays from Recovery Unplugged.

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