Our ultimate Dry January® preparation checklist for 2024

December 2023 | 14 minutes

If you’re taking on Dry January® with us this year, you’re already doubling the chances of finishing your month without having a drink compared to going it alone* – hooray! But if you want to boost your chances even further, you definitely won’t want to miss this.

Combined with ideas from those who’ve gone before you, we’ve drawn on our 10 years+ experience of guiding Dry January® participants to reach their goals and put together our ultimate preparation checklist for 2024. Take a look and get prepped for a great Dry January® with us!

Don’t miss out on what’s on offer

When you take on Dry January® with Alcohol Change UK you’ve got lots of great free tools and resources available at your fingertips to help you get the most out of your month. Find out more below:

  • Sign up for the Dry January® emails for your daily dose of motivation and to understand more about the changes your body and mind will go through as we unpick the science behind your dry month.
  • Mark the [email protected] email address as a ‘safe sender’ to stop precious emails going into the spam or junk folders in your inbox. That way you won’t miss your daily dose of encouragement, information, top tips and exclusive offers from our fab partners!
  • Once you’ve signed up to the emails, make a daily ritual to make sure you’ve got time to read and digest your email for the day. Having your usual morning cuppa? Why not make it your allotted time each day of your dry month to look through your daily Dry January digest?
  • Download Try Dry®. Available on the App Store (Apple devices) and Google Play (Android devices), Try Dry® is the free companion app that’s designed to help you through your Dry January® (and beyond if that feels right for you). So much more than simply a drinks tracker, with Try Dry® you can set personalised goals that work for you, monitor your wellbeing data such as cravings strength, sleep quality and mood over time and even use the apps in-built secure ‘Notes’ section to write reflections as you progress through your month.. Oh, and did we mention? Try Dry® has no annoying ads to sit through. Not a single one.
  • If you’ve downloaded Try Dry® and have decided to use it to help guide you through your dry month, make sure you set your current goal as ‘Dry January®’ to keep you motivated. Go to ‘Progress’, ‘Goals’ then ‘Set goal’ and find the Dry January® goal in the ‘Challenges’ tab.
  • Turn your app notifications on and set your daily reminder for a time when you would normally take that first drink. If you’re planning on using Try Dry® to help keep you on track, smart little prompts like this one might just help you fight a craving. From your app dashboard, tap on the profile icon to go to your settings and scroll to ‘Notification time’ to edit it to the most helpful time for you.
  • Download your social pack. If you feel like letting your loved ones know your Dry January® intentions, be sure to download your social pack here. It’s bursting with images you could use on social media to show you’re in and maybe just encourage someone else to take part too.
  • Check out the Dry January® and Alcohol Change UK social media channels. You’ll find them packed full of tips, tricks and personal stories and they’ll always be there to cheer you on throughout your challenge.

Practical top tips

Emails and apps not your thing? No problem! The good news is that there are still plenty of practical things you can try to help you feel more prepared for your dry challenge. Take a look and see if there are any you think might be useful:

  • Remove booze out of house before your challenge begins. This is a simple but effective action you can take to help you start off on the right foot and remove extra temptation. And if you’re worried about waste, you could always regift unopened bottles to someone in your life who you feel would appreciate them.

  • Stock up on alcohol free drinks. The alcohol-free sector is well and truly booming and there’s now a plethora of alternative options out there if you fancy experimenting. Pro tip: sign up for the Dry January® daily emails for exclusive perks and discounts from our partners, including some really excellent alcohol-free drinks suppliers. Winner!

  • Try some caffeine-free teas or coffees for a new evening ritual. Could you take a punt and pick up a few more ‘exotic’ hot drinks next time you’re at the supermarket? If you’re usually an evening drinker, why not carve out a bit of time to try out your posh new beverage and make it feel special to help distract you from thoughts of wanting to drink.

  • Listen, watch or read a variety of ‘quit lit’ style materials to find what works for you. You might want to start this ahead of your dry month to give you time to practice carrying out any strategies you come across to give yourself the best chance.

  • Keep yourself busy in your downtime by picking up a new (or old) hobby. If you’re looking for something active to get stuck into, why not try out a new sport? And if you’re trying to keep the costs down while you explore some new activities, there are some fantastic schemes connecting sports facilities and clubs in your local area offering free activity and wellness sessions on a trial basis such as the ClassPass app. With a month’s free trial available, it might just be the perfect thing to get you started this Dry January®.

  • Stock up on some good books or your favourite games. If reading or gaming is your thing, no explanation needed for this one! Both are also great ways to spend a long, dark winter night immersed in a different world of your choosing – sounds pretty nice to us!

Wellbeing actions you could take

Making a change is hard and can feel uncomfortable at times, so it’s a great idea to take steps to look after yourself as you prepare for your dry month, as well as throughout your challenge. Maybe some of our wellbeing suggestions will hit the spot?

  • In the lead up to Dry January®, try to start reducing your alcohol intake. Avoid going all out on one ‘last hurrah’ the night before your challenge starts, as this will make the beginning of your Dry January® that bit more challenging.

  • Factor in some physical activity and set small achievable goals. Staying active is not only good for your physical health, but for your mental health too. Can you arrange to meet with some friends for regular walks throughout January? Maybe your local gym has a booking app and you can schedule-in some classes, or book a court for the next few upcoming weeks?

  • Find a jar to put aside the money you would have spent on alcohol during your dry month and treat yourself to something special. If you bank online, maybe you could set up a savings pot instead and transfer your month’s worth of savings there? If you need help calculating your savings, the Try Dry® app can do this for you – just be sure to input your baseline drinking in your settings when you sign up and try to add your drinking data carefully each day to help keep the calculations accurate.

  • Plan some evenings at your local pub. Yes! That’s right – we really said that. Just because you are doing Dry January® doesn't mean you have to stay in. Plan some evenings out with friends during Dry January® where there are good food or alcohol-free drink options. Staying connected with friends is a great way to boost mental wellbeing, as well providing a support network if you need one.

  • Start to introduce some of your new activities into your routine ahead of Dry January®. If you’ve started to think about some switch ups to your usual routine you’d like to try during your dry month, it could be a good idea to start these a little early to help you get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. For instance, were you thinking of starting a brand-new hobby this January to help keep you busy during the evenings? Maybe you could try out a few different taster sessions before your challenge begins. That way you can get a feel for what you enjoy the most and help you avoid any false starts.

  • Create an evening routine that supports your wellbeing. For example, if you know you want to be more active during your Dry January® and are planning on picking up an evening sports club, try to keep things in balance and not exhaust yourself. Similarly, if you want to use the time you’ll gain back from not drinking on catching up on that new series everyone’s talking about, don’t be tempted to spend your whole evening binge watching until the small hours and sacrificing your rest. Making changes is hard so if you can craft a new rough plan for your evenings that helps you feel good, you’re on to a winner.

Holding yourself accountable

Everyone’s different when it comes to how they decide to take on Dry January®, but over the years we’ve heard many of our participants talk about the value of accountability when it comes to successfully completing their dry month. Why don’t you try out some of our top accountability hacks to help motivate you?

  • Do Dry January® with someone. Because there’s nothing like having a mate by your side when you’re taking on a challenge.

  • Arrange to meet up with a friend on 1 Feb. So you have something to work towards and can celebrate your achievement with them!

  • Tell someone you're doing Dry January®. This can help to spur you on when you’re having a tough moment. Depending on who you tell, they also may want to support you through your dry month.

  • Get sponsored for your efforts and feel amazing. Check out our fundraising pages for some great inspiration on this. You’ll have something to work towards and can feel good knowing you’re helping Alcohol Change UK reduce alcohol harm all through the year!

  • Use an app like Try Dry®. Some people find having a physical (or digital!) reminder of their commitment super motivating. Why not follow our steps above to download Try Dry® and set your Dry January® 2024 goal and see if it works for you?

So, there you have it. The ultimate Dry January® preparation checklist for 2024. We hope you’ve found some useful suggestions in it and that you’re raring to go. We know you’ll smash it!

* Those who take on Dry January® using the charity Alcohol Change UK’s free Try Dry® app and/or daily motivational emails are twice as likely to have a month totally alcohol-free and experience many more benefits.

Warning!

People who are clinically alcohol dependent can die if they suddenly, completely stop drinking. If you experience fits, shaking hands, sweating, seeing things that are not real, depression, anxiety, or difficulty sleeping after a period of drinking and while sobering up, then you may be clinically alcohol dependent and should NOT suddenly, completely stop drinking. But you can still take control of your drinking. Talk to a GP or your local community alcohol service who will be able to get help for you to reduce your drinking safely. Find out more.