Kate's Blog

How To Survive Summer Parties And Boozy BBQs

I used to love going to boozy BBQs and picnics – they were the perfect excuse to day drink. 

The warm weather made me crave alcohol and the idea of watching the sun go down, stone cold sober, seemed unthinkable. 
So when I quit drinking, I was surprised to discover that summer parties were still fun – even if everyone else was knocking back booze.
If you’re about to tackle your first ever sober party, boozy BBQ or wedding this summer, I’ve got four tips to help you through it:

Key points:

Get clear on why you’re meeting up

No matter how much booze there is, the gathering is about more than sitting outside and drinking. If that was all it was about then you’d just stay at home! The real reason you’re going might be to catch up with old friends, celebrate a birthday or spend quality time with family. 
When you know what the point of an event is, you should start to see that you’re going to get that no matter what you’re drinking. You aren’t missing out – all you’re doing is pouring a different liquid into your glass. 

Decide in advance that you’re not going to drink

It sounds obvious, but how many times have you decided to wait and see how you feel – only to end up drinking?! Save yourself the mental torture of going back and forth over the decision. Decide in advance that you’re going to stay committed, no matter what. 
Remember – you can’t figure sobriety out without overcoming a few challenges. Pushing through something like this, sober, is how you grow. This is how you teach yourself that you’re capable of more than you think. You don’t need alcohol to have a good time. 

Keep an alcohol free drink in your hand

When you’ve already got a drink on the go, it’s easier to turn down the offer of something you don’t want. It also gives you something to do with your hands if you’re nervous. Plus, staying hydrated helps prevent cravings for alcohol. 
If it’s appropriate, take your own drinks with you and pack more than you think you need. You’ll be amazed at how many people will choose soft drinks if they’re available. People aren’t as obsessed with alcohol as we tend to think!

Plan ahead

Think through the event in advance. How can you make your life as easy as possible? Think about what you’ll say if someone asks why you’re not drinking and plan a response now (I have some thoughts on this here).
Plan your exit. Can you drive there, so you can leave whenever you want to? Plan your next day too. No matter how things go, you must celebrate yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something different!
If you’d like some help and support to quit drinking, click here for details of my online course.

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


29 Responses

  1. Hi Kate! This came the day after I attended my first family bbq AF! I did plan ahead, brought my own bevies, I knew there would at least be a couple of people who would not indulge so felt pretty comfortable I’d get through ok. What absolutely amazed me that absolutely no one drank! It was a fluke as several had made a choice unbeknownst to others that they wouldn’t drink. Everyone had a great time, there were young children present, no one had to worry about it. The first time ever that has happened and I think there probably will be more. YAY

    1. That’s great Marja! It just goes to show… not everyone drinks! It sounds as if you learned some important things about having fun and the fact that you can do that, no matter what it is in your glass 🙂

    2. Hi Kate, im doing ok with my family and my husband is very supportive but im dreading the next/first occassion on that side where I know i’ll be quizzed WHY arent you drinking… but listening to your videos makes me feel more positive that if they do have an issue and are nosey about it, its their problem, not mine… let them off!!!

      1. This is great, particularly good to listen to right now with the football season started up here in the USA, and all the get-togethers to watch games. What usually works best for me is driving separately from my husband (so I can leave earlier if needed), bringing a supply of my own alcohol-free beverages, and stepping outside for some fresh air if I feel overwhelmed. Thanks for this, Kate!

  2. I’m just about to go to my first AF event next weekend. 3 couples. 6 people. 5 of them will be drinking & no doubt trying to get me to join. I’ve decided to drive, as my ‘excuse’. How bad is it that I need an ‘excuse’ not to drink?

    1. You never know – some people are far more open minded than we think and can surprise us with how they respond! Others do turn it into a big deal, but that’s always more about them than us. Driving next weekend is a great idea as it means you can leave when you need to. Have fun!

      1. I was AF for 3 1/2 years, one thing that surprised me in the beginning was when i explained to people I’m not drinking anymore almost every one supported me and said wow well done and admitted they knew they drank too much and should go AF too but felt it was too hard

        1. Love this – what a great reminder that some people will be truly supportive and rooting for you 🙂

  3. I was in your April class and am really enjoying going out sober! Like you I thought it would be miserable but it’s actually been fine. I love being able to drive home and waking up the next day feeling great!

    1. Hangover free mornings never get old, do they? Congratulations Kelly – it’s great to see you doing so well!

  4. Look forward to the food instead of the drink. Your host has gone to a lot of trouble and will be delighted to see you enjoying it all. Feeling full certainly stops me craving a drink. Kate is right though, dont arrive on an empty stomach. Swap empty calories for great food cooked by someone else. Bring your favourite salad or side dish too.

  5. This is very powerful. My house is the hub in the summer because we have a pool and I am about to host some friends soon and they always bring beer for the day (my friend is a long time friend from college) and this is my first test of being gracious and not drinking at the pool party even if they are. I am struggling with telling them not to bring beer since it is their habit to do so.

    1. There’s no right or wrong here Beth. It is your house, so you’re perfectly entitled to make whatever request you like. If they come over with beers, make sure you have stocked up on some lovely alcohol free alternatives for yourself 🙂

  6. I bring my own AF drinks and I play it forward. I think about how clear headed I will be, how refreshed I will feel and how my next day will be hangover free and lovely. I think of how well I will be and feel. I am very quiet by nature and don’t really like socialising…i do make the effort though and love the freedom of being able to leave when I want to….on my terms.
    I was a very heavy wine drinker for far too long. Your blogs changed my life Kate. Thank you.

    1. Playing the movie forward is always a great move. Congratulations on your sobriety Imogen – it sounds as if this lifestyle suits you! Hangover free mornings are simply the best 🙂

  7. Three years ago I started lessons on the harp, something I could never have done navigating hangovers. Yes, this lifestyle suits me very much.

  8. Hi Kate
    I just experienced this exact thing on Saturday gone! It was a work party that was being g held at a co-workers house in the backyard and everyone was talking about the drinking around the fire etc! I have been AF for over 18 months now but the pandemic made get togethers very rare for most of my AF time’s. Soon, I made my plan to drive there and I brought my AF beets with me! Everyone else drank but it really didn’t bother me! I was proud of myself and also was kind of bored after people got drunk! Ha! No one asked me any questions about what I was drinking! I think we build it up in our heads and think people will be watching us but really people are only interested in themselves for the most part especially when they are drinking!
    I love your talks and thanks so much for all you do!!!

    1. Well done Mitzi. I forgot to mention that in the video – that half the time people won’t even notice what’s in your glass… people are often too wrapped up in themselves!

  9. Love this. Whenever I attend an event like this where I would’ve previously drank, I always make sure I have some nice little sober treats waiting for me when I get home. This is things like making sure I have some posh herbal teas at home, or a new book waiting on the table for me to read. When I get home sober, and then have treats there ready, it’s such a proud feeling! 🙂

  10. Hi Kate
    Really enjoy your blogs I’m due to go to a big wedding in August and iv taken on bored all your tips. Iv been AF for 2 months and feeling free

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