How to navigate the holiday season this Christmas

Faye | December 2022 | 7 minutes

Last December, I had to navigate the challenges of Christmas parties, seasonal gatherings with friends and of course family time at home, for the first time sober.

Thankfully, I’m heading in the holiday season with confidence this year.

So, what can I say to help those of you who wish to moderate or be alcohol-free in the coming weeks? Here are my top five tips:

Make a plan

If you are attending a works party at a venue, take a look at their online menu and see what alternatives they have to drink. Look for the alcohol-free or nicer soft drink alternatives and mocktails. If you are moderating, they are likely to have some lower alcohol by volume options. Deciding what you are having ahead should take away that temptation when you arrive.

If there are no alternatives that you fancy, ring the venue and see if they will allow you to take your own, offering to pay corkage. I’ve taken alcohol free wine to a few places now and they have not charged me.

If you are worried the party is going to be too crazy and too tempting, I’d suggest you don’t go, prioritise yourself over what anyone thinks.

Be prepared for questions

There is a lot of peer pressure when not drinking and you may be asked why you are not drinking or be told you are boring or you should ‘just have one’. Stick to your plan, and have answers ready. You don’t have to tell them the truth if you feel uneasy. Something as simple as ‘I’m driving as I’m up early tomorrow’, or ‘I’m taking a break’ could work. The other trick is to pour alcohol-free beers into a nice glass rather than drink from the bottle. No one will know if you are drinking or not.

Be brave and enjoy yourself

We often drink to relax, lose our inhibitions and stop worrying about what others may be thinking. It can be the most liberating experience when you throw your whole self into an event, sober. Conversation, laughter, dancing and karaoke are brilliant fun. So go on, have a go….you may be surprised.

Leave when you want to

Many people I know love going to events but often leave when the party gets too loud, or people start to get too drunk or repeat themselves. This isn’t fun for anyone not drinking. So don’t be worried about leaving when you want to. The chances are no one will notice.

Identify your triggers

All the above are tips for events at pubs or restaurants. For the occasions at home where family and friends are drinking, I’d suggest again plan ahead what you will drink and drinking from a nice glass. If you find you are triggered to drink, find something to distract yourself such as tidying up or maybe play a game with the kids. Finally, remember a trigger is like a wave, it will pass.

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