I used to love BBQs when I was drinking; they were the perfect excuse to day drink without feeling like an alcoholic.
The warm weather used to make me crave beer and the idea of watching the sun go down, stone cold sober, seemed unimaginable.
When I stopped drinking, I was surprised to discover that summer parties and BBQs were still fun.
I began to realise that what really mattered was the mood I was in, the people at the party, the food, the atmosphere, the music. Basically, 101 tiny things that I’d never stopped to consider before.
Nowadays, knocking back a beer at a BBQ is as appealing as sipping rat poison; I’d much rather have ice cold fizzy water, a mocktail or a glass of fresh juice. But I can still remember how challenging these events can be in early sobriety.
If you’re about to tackle your first ever sober party, boozy BBQ or wedding this summer, this blog is for you. Here are 10 tips for staying alcohol free (and having a great time!)
1. Decide you’re not going to drink
I know this seems like an obvious one but seriously – do NOT wait until you get there to decide what you’re going to do. A ‘maybe’ or a ‘wait and see’ is nearly always a yes. There’s a lot of freedom in making a firm decision and knowing that you’re going to stick to it, no matter what.
Remember, you can’t figure sobriety out without overcoming a few challenges. Rather than seeing these events as things that are ‘impossible’ to do without drinking, reframe them as a challenge that you will rise up to and overcome.
2. Be positive
A lot of this is about perception – thinking something is true often makes it so. If you decide that it’s going to be an awkward event and you’ll hate it, then guess what? You probably will feel like that!
Stay positive and remember that alcohol is not the secret to having a good time. (If that were true then you should have an amazing time at every single boozy party. But haven’t we all been to events that were boring, no matter how much we drank?)
3. Have something to eat and drink before you go
Feeling hungry or thirsty will exacerbate any cravings you have, and you’ll be more likely to feel tired, grumpy and lethargic. Make life easy on yourself and have something to eat and drink beforehand.
4. Take a drink you love with you
The great thing about BBQs is that you can bring whatever you like with you. Now is not the time to pretend you’re happy drinking lukewarm water or flat diet coke – find something you genuinely love to drink! Being sober does not mean ‘making do’ with boring drinks.
5. Decide what you’re going to bring the host
Are you comfortable taking them a bottle of wine that you’re not going to drink? Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t. You could always volunteer to bring some food or non-alcoholic drinks. (A pitcher of something alcohol-free is often very welcome and disappears surprisingly quickly.)
6. Get a drink as soon as you arrive
Keeping a drink in your hand makes it harder for other people to offer you alcoholic drinks, plus it gives you something to do with your hands. Fizzy water and a slice of lemon in a wine glass could easily pass for an alcoholic drink if you don’t want to attract attention.
7. Prepare a response
You’ll be amazed how many people won’t notice that you’re not drinking. Some people just don’t care about this stuff and others are far too wrapped up in themselves. But it’s worth thinking about what you’ll say if someone is being nosy. I made a few suggestions here.
8. Watch the kids
If you catch yourself slipping into a negative state, look at what the kids are doing. The chances are they’re playing games, having a good time and mixing with other children they’ve never met before. They don’t need alcohol in order to have a good time. You were that kid once!
9. Make sure you can leave when you want
Respect your own time and head home when you’re ready. Don’t stay until the bitter end because you feel you have to (or because that’s what you would’ve done when drinking). If you’re tired or you’ve had enough, just go – people won’t care as much as you think. If they’re drunk, they might not even notice! So plan your escape route in advance.
10. Celebrate afterwards
Woo hoo – you did it! You made it through a challenging situation. Take some time out to really acknowledge that, reflect on how things went and congratulate yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone. Plan some lovely sober treats for you to enjoy when you get home or the next day.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
What are your tips for staying sober at boozy BBQs, weddings and summer parties? What have been your experiences so far? Let me know below 🙂
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