Party-Time: Enjoying the Holiday Party Season… Sober

Originally posted 12/11/2013, revised for 2015 holidays

friends drinking wine at holiday partyTips for making the holiday party season a sober success!

It’s no surprise – alcohol is a staple of the holiday season. This can prove to be a tough challenge for individuals in recovery but with a little planning and strategy, the holidays can be an enjoyable and successfully sober experience!

Following is a list of suggestions for non-drinkers when they’re in social situations involving alcohol, as well as tips for friends and family so everyone can enjoy the party:

For the Non-Drinker:

  • BYO – bring your own nonalcoholic drinks to the function. (If it’s a big party, no one will notice.)
  • Create your own cocktail – for instance, ask the bartender to mix cranberry juice, a splash of orange juice, club soda and add a piece of lemon or lime.
  • Be assertive with drink “pushers,” people who don’t seem to understand your decision to not drink. You can simply say, “No thanks; I don’t drink.” One response that can stop drink pushers in their tracks is to ask, “Why is it so important to you that I drink?”
  • If someone else gets you a drink, double check to make sure that it’s alcohol-free. If you accidentally drink something with alcohol, don’t panic – it wasn’t intentional.

Social suggestions:

  • Avoid functions where the main activity is drinking, such as wine tastings and cocktail parties.
  • Focus on the people, socializing and having a good time. Station yourself away from the bar or beverage table.
  • Splurge on the food – have some treats that you might not ordinarily indulge in.
  • Go outside, and take a walk with a friend.

For the party-thrower:

  • Stuff a cooler with several choices of bottled juices and flavored iced tea drinks along with other carbonated beverages, such as a variety of flavored sparkling mineral waters.
  • Have nonalcoholic beer, wine or ginger beer on hand for those who feel more comfortable with these beverages.
  • If you make an alcohol-containing punch or slushy drink, leave some aside without the alcohol and label it as such for nondrinkers.
  • Provide different kinds of sparkling fruit juice.
  • Have a serve-yourself jug or large pitcher filled with water, ice, mint leaves, and orange and lemon slices.


Mocktails are mock cocktails – fancy drinks that don’t contain any alcohol. You can get some great ideas for mocktail recipes here.

If you’re finding it hard to manage your drinking or using, call us. We can help.

Practical Recovery provides outpatient and residential addiction treatment from a self-empowering approach.