The festive party season is an incredibly boozy time of year.
If you’re newly sober – or trying to be – I suspect you might be feeling a bit anxious about it. So, I wanted to jump in and encourage you to keep going, because alcohol-free living is a GREAT idea at any time of year 🙂
Don’t let pushy friends, family or sneaky adverts mess with your head. Take it from someone who’s been to a lot of Christmas parties, sober – you don’t need alcohol in order to celebrate or have a good time.
By choosing not to drink, the only thing you’ll be missing out on is a hangover. (I don’t know about you, but that suits me just fine…)
Please don’t stress about the upcoming party season. Here are 5 tips for staying alcohol-free:
Remember that alcohol does not have magic powers
It’s not what’s in your glass that dictates the success of an evening; it’s the mood you’re in before you go, the people you’re with, the atmosphere, the music and 101 other things.
Drinking at a bad party just means you’re drunk at a bad party.
Ultimately, parties are about humans interacting with other humans. Sometimes it will be a fun experience and sometimes it won’t. That’s normal.
If you go out and have a great time, then that’s brilliant. But if you have a bad time, that’s ok too. It’s only one night, and it’s all important information about what you do and don’t like. That knowledge is what’s going to help you create a life you don’t need to numb out from.
Remind yourself that you’re good at socialising sober, because you do it ALL the time!
We meet friends for coffee, we banter with our workmates, we go out for lunch, we strike up conversation with people in our gym class. All day long, we interact with other humans without alcohol.
Why should evenings be any different? The same rules of the world apply. When we were kids, we never needed to drink in order to have fun or ‘survive’ a party – so what’s different now?
Plan, plan, plan
The first part of your plan should be deciding whether or not you’re going to drink. I know that sounds like an obvious thing to say, but if you decide to wing it, or see how you feel when you get there, you will likely end up drinking. So make a decision now: yes or no.
Plan your drinks. If you’re going to a bar, check if there’s a non-alcoholic drinks menu on their website (there often is). It’s really helpful to know your options in advance. Order a drink as soon as you arrive – holding it gives you something to do with your hands and helps you feel less self-conscious!
You might like to plan what you’ll say if someone asks why you’re not drinking. (It’s really none of their business, but I did mention a few possible responses here.)
Also – how are you going to get home? Plan your escape route in advance so you can leave whenever you like.
Treat yourself well
If you’d normally spend a while getting ready to go out, or you’d buy a new dress or get your nails done, then make sure you still do all those things. You want to look good – it will make you feel more confident.
You could also arrange something nice for the day after a challenging event. Whether it’s brunch with a friend, or just something random that you fancy doing, it’s all part of looking after yourself. Plus, you’ll feel really good doing fun stuff with a clear head!
So often, what we believe to be true, becomes true. If you go to an event thinking, “this isn’t going to be as good as last year because I’m not drinking” then guess what? It probably won’t be.
Instead, force yourself to focus on the positives, such as how proud you’ll feel the next day. Not only will you be hangover-free, your confidence will be sky-high because you smashed it – you overcame your fears.
There is nothing quite like coming home after a fab night out and knowing you genuinely had fun, that you were fully present and living in the moment.
(Plus, taking your make-up off properly and cleaning your teeth is weirdly satisfying. It’s way better than collapsing into bed, half dressed.)
I’ve had some of the funniest – and happiest – nights out since I stopped drinking. You’ve got so much to look forward to! 🙂
Thank you for that good advice, but as a retired 65 year old, I am now beyond worrying about office parties. However, I am about to go on a few long haul flights and in the past, the flowing wine has been there. This time, I’m sticking to soft drinks and coffee; so that’s my challenge.Wish me luck!
You’ll feel so much better for not drinking on those long haul flights. Enjoy your trip!
Thank you Kate. I especially like the analogy of if I don’t find out what I do and don’t enjoy it will keep me from finding a life I don’t have to numb out on. I’ve been telling myself I need to quit for years but it somehow feels I’m out of time. I keep telling myself I’ll do it January 1, but as each night inches closer to that date, January 1 May be too late. I’m on your waitlist and I look forward to learning from you. Oh yeah, the backdrop of black & white vs. all colors in your “about me” area really spoke volumes about what like can look like!! Thank you
Kate, I just love your blogs! What a great way to start a Monday morning! I’ve been having way more fun being sober. I am so grateful I gave it a chance. Here’s to 8 weeks strong! Happy Holidays 🙂
Thank you Abby and congratulations on your 8 weeks! Happy holidays to you too 🙂
I had complete relapse on the weekend and feel utterly awful. Drank far too much and now regret a wasted weekend. With the party season approaching my willpower will be tested you the limit.
Hi Linda, I’m sorry to hear about that. This blog post here will help you get back on track.
And if you’d like some more support from me to really change your relationship with alcohol, be sure to check out my online coaching programme.
The next one starts in January and I’m looking forward to it already! 🙂
Oh Kate, Merci mucho. Your beautiful emails are like lovely friend dropping in . AF since last July, I credit your class for leading me to the life I want. When I wake up, I am stunned at how good I look/feel. oxoxoxox
Thanks Maggie, it’s lovely to hear from you – I’m so pleased you’re loving the AF life! Have a lovely Christmas x
Kate, your graphics are gorgeous. Hats off.
Back from a weekend away with friends, they drank & I didn’t. AF since the Oct course and still love waking up with no headache x
Excellent! That’s brilliant Lindsey – I’m pleased to hear all is well and I hope you had a fun weekend away! 🙂
Wow – perfect timing, thank you so much Kate!
Have been really good and not touched a drop for ages but my party season starts on Wednesday so I really appreciate your advice!
Good luck – I hope it all goes well, and you have fun! 🙂
The one Rule I set up for myself after my husband died was I would Not drink outside my home–and I never have. My problem is being home alone….
Sounds like you need to make your home your sober bubble – your safe, alcohol-free space 🙂
Love your blog! I am 22 days sober today and words can’t express how good it feels to not be hungover and waste my weekends anymore. It isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it and your blog has really helped me. Thank you!
It’s so good to get your weekends back, right?! Congratulations on your 22 days – here’s to many more!
I love these ideas! I really wanted to do a sober Thanksgiving, but I ended up drinking some wine (because I thought I had to in order to deal with conflicting holiday political talk), and now I realize I didn’t need to. Going to change that mentality going into the next holiday. I’m planning on scheduling an early morning spin class for each morning after a party, so that I not only have an excuse for not drinking, I’ll be able to reward myself for it with an invigorating workout. 🙂 Thank you for showing us that being sober is cool.
It sounds as if you learnt a lot from that Thanksgiving experience. The spin class plan is great – I like that mentality and you will feel so good afterwards! Enjoy your parties 🙂
I decided to train for a half marathon in Feb. It gets everyone off my back about being af..works like a charm
That’s great. No one can argue with that! Good luck with your half marathon 🙂
Great blog, timely for me as after 3 months (!!) of alcohol free living and feeling great I very stupidly decided to have a few wines with my friends over the weekend. As you can imagine, my body didn’t appreciate it at all & I felt horrendous the next day. Feeling pretty disappointed with myself. Anyhow, back to day 1 with a plan. A plan to stay alcohol free for the festive season & beyond. I know I can have fun without alcohol so I just need to fully commit. Thanks for the blog.
Ah, sorry to hear about this Kate – I remember you saying that you were aiming for 100 days. You will have learnt a valuable lesson from this, I’m sure. If you need any more support making sobriety stick, my next stop drinking course will be in January.
Great post Kate! A good way to approach a gathering/dinner/party sober is to see it as an experiment, something you’re trying out for now. I was pretty surprised that I could have a way better time sober, and even belt out a song. And of course felt amazing the next day. Three years later, I can’t imagine drinking, at least for a very long time. Happy holiday season Kate and everyone! : )
That’s a great tip – I think viewing it all as a big experiment eases the pressure on yourself. Have a lovely Christmas Jane x
Thanks for your Blog Kate! I am entering my 4th week sober and still going strong. My skin is glowing, my head is sharp, and I feel amazing. I have been out twice at for events and have enjoyed driving myself home in a warm car both times. This is the best christmas gift I could ever give myself; my health and no guilt.all the best mini
Yes – sobriety is an absolutely amazing Christmas gift to yourself! Well done Mini, keep going! 🙂
When someone offers to buy me a drink, I say, “no thanks, but I’ll take the cash!”
I just said to my hubby who does not drink, im really excited about the holidays because I’m not drinking
Ha ha – I love this response! Maybe I’ll ask for the cash too… 🙂
Can’t wait for bedtime. Two days sober! Getting anxious about the holidaze, but one day at a time, right?
Well done Netta, keep going! Hangover-free mornings are the best 🙂
Xmas is scary. I was doing really well. Completed Ocsober successfully quite proud of myself. Then I went on holidays and it’s like all rules go out the window and I felt like I had the right drink every day just because I was on holidays. Quite disappointed in myself now. Bloated and 3kg added. Christmas is going to be tough. Have lots of engagements on through December.
Hi Leanne, it sounds as if you need to do a bit of work on your mindset regarding sobriety – we want you to realise that alcohol isn’t a treat and you deserve so much better! My stop drinking course will help you see this from a different perspective and stop relying on willpower so much. The next one starts in January, so make sure you check it out: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
I really liked points one and two. That idea of having to have a brilliant night and the pressure of creating that instead of rolling with what it is, good or bad. And it’s about surrounding yourself with people who you get a kick out of being with sober or tipsy. My biggest challenge as someone who doesn’t give myself permission to relax very often is to stop associating having a drink with freedom and letting my hair down. Thanks for the blog. I’ve been teetollating nearly all year but it’s come undone a bit celebrating the end of a uni degree. I’m keen to get back on track. Thanks again
Great observation – it is important to get into the habit of giving yourself permission to relax, without that relaxation being connected to drinking. You might find this blog post helpful Cerise: https://thesoberschool.com/self-care-mistakes/
Thanks so much for all your posts. At the end of summer, I stopped drinking for six weeks, and I felt so good. I had more energy during the day, slept SO well, had so much more patience, and the puffiness under my eyes almost disappeared. I eventually started having a glass of wine or two again, which just a few weeks later turned into drinking a bottle and a half on one night. This is just not acceptable to me. At least I think I am finally seeing drinking as something far from a treat. I do love the taste of certain wines, but I can definitely live without them. It is just easier for me to completely avoid it. Once I start, it’s so hard to stop. And I’m realizing that what little relaxation I get from it is just not worth it. I feel so down on a day after I drink. And you’re so right, if you’re feeling a certain way before you drink, you’re still going to feel that way, but you may react to those feelings in a much less mature way. And then the next day when you’re hungover, things are so much worse.
It sounds as if you’ve learnt a lot from this experience – you’re right, alcohol is not a treat; it’s really more of a punishment, and you deserve better. Keep going Natasha!
I made it through Thanksgiving w/ no booze. 18 days now and feeling good. My plan for Christmas is to bring chamomile tea so I can I have something to sip on that may help calm my nerves w/o the hangover that alcohol will give me. Love your blog Kate! Super inspiring!
Thanks Tina – and congratulations on your alcohol free Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy a hangover-free Christmas too (they are the best kind!)
I LOVE this idea of bringing Chamomile tea to Christmas to help calm nerves. I’m using this idea! Thanks, Tina. 🙂
Thank you again Kate 🙂 I love your great messages. Reading your blogs have helped me so much. Started with one month, read everything I could get my hands on during that month, prompted me to keep going to three, six, seven, onto eight and now aiming for a year. It is so much easier now than 8 months ago. So blessed to not have those awful hangovers and 2am in the morning anxies. So great to feel free. But staying vigilant and alert and connected into wise people like yourself. Thanks again! Jules xox
That’s fantastic Jules, well done! Here’s to many more healthy, happy, alcohol-free days to come 🙂
9 days and 8hrs sober. Christmas party next Friday, I really needed to read this. Although I’m feeling strong as I’ve never got this far before. I already have had “what! You’ll have a drink at the party though?” Erm NO! Thanks x
Play the movie forward… you will feel so good not drinking at that party! I hope you have fun. You can do it 🙂
Hi Kate! Love your words of wisdom – very inspiring. I’m really looking forward to an AF Christmas this year, feeling calm & relaxed and hangover free.
Thanks again Kate for your wonderful 6 week course – 63 AF days today and loving it! I’ve not felt so grounded in a long time.
I would highly recommend Kate’s course to anyone who’s thinking of stopping drinking – it’s a fantastic!
Best wishes Elaine xx
Thanks Elaine – I’m so pleased to hear about your 63 days! I hope you have a lovely Christmas x
I need to put this out there: I will spend the rest of 2017 practicing for what I want to be in 2018 – AF, healthy, in control. I have spent too much of 2017 in a drunken haze and unhealthy, putting on weight and having constant yeast infections due to the alcohol abuse. Its not what I want out of life and I vow to change it, starting today.
Good luck Michelle! If you need some more support moving into an alcohol-free lifestyle in 2018, do take a look at my online coaching programme. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018!
You are all so inspiring!! I’m just coming off of a disastrous holiday party experience..,fortunately most of my workmates had left by the time I started to fall down. Thought I was doing good to have my husband pick me up at the bar, but that just made me think oh I can keep slamming down wine. Long story short, came home blacked out, barfed all over, lost a contact lens, fell out of bed. Hung freaking over next day. Trying to say “that’s it”! Am having friends over tomorrow, they will drink for sure. I’m trying to find strength to not drink and to not feel like I’m punishing myself. Ideas??
I just had my first successful sober holiday party! And it was not at all as scary as I pictured it was going to be. At this particular party we drank from blue cups, so I just kept putting water or sparkling water in mine. For the majority of the party, no one asked if I needed more wine or what I was drinking. It wasn’t until the end when someone asked if I had tried the white wine. My response? “Yeah I had some drinks (of sparkling water).” The best part was that by that point, this person was already drunk so this answer was sufficient enough and they moved on. 🙂 Bonus, when I woke up, I wasn’t bloated or hating myself for drinking too much and wondering if I said something offensive to someone.
Hi everyone 🙂
New to your blog Kate, thank you for doing what you do
I’ve just survived my first Christmas AF . AND New Year
Started my freedom from alcohol on 8 Jan 2017, so I’m now 380 days in. Never felt better.
I always take my own drinks to any gathering – kombucha is my favourite. To start with I was worried what everyone would think – reality is that people don’t notice or care, mostly.
I bring enough to share and I offer it to anyone interested – I haven’t converted anyone else to being AF yet, but give me time
My adult kids and I have had great discussions on the subject, and I LOVE that it is an open topic of discussion, rather than something that must not be mentioned, as if it is a shameful, embarrassing affliction.
Very happy to discuss my AF status with anyone genuinely interested, now that I have enough sober momentum and I’ve gotten over myself a bit
Apart from amazingly improved sleep, the best thing about being sober is getting to feel PROUD of myself – I’m taking care of ME. Finally.