5 Ways To Avoid Being The Drunkest Person At Every Holiday Party

by James Swanwick

Like most people, you probably love a glass of wine over dinner or a cold beer during the holidays season.

Alcohol is a big part of our lives at special events with family, friends, and colleagues.

I was a social drinker until 2010 when I took an initial 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge and then quit alcohol entirely.

Until then, my social life always revolved around alcohol -- I would meet friends in a bar for a drink, or we’d order alcohol over dinner.

This is how my thinking went: Drinking alcohol would relax me and I would appear more confident.

But within a few hours, I’d be eating a 3 am pizza and spending the rest of the weekend in a hungover daze.

Sounds like a pretty standard holiday season, right?

People often buy into the myth that you can’t have fun unless there’s copious alcohol flowing.

My experience has been that you can still party like a rockstar with little or no alcohol.

I still have wildly entertaining nights out -- even with my drunken friends slurring their words around me. Conversations with others have become much more interesting. Women tell me that they’re impressed by my self-discipline.

Here are some amazing strategies for drinking moderately through the whole holidays season.

First, why it's so hard to turn down booze?

There is a huge societal pressure to drink. It's a common bond that makes us feel part of our tribe.

Plus, people are suspicious if you don't drink – they may think you have a problem with alcohol.

Understand that society, culture, and clever advertising make us believe that we must drink alcohol to fit in and have fun.

Think of TV beer ads with goofy guys surrounded by great friends and beautiful women. Think of wine commercials showing sophisticated women relaxing with friends or on a romantic date.

Once you let go of the societal pressure to do anything, and you make choices that are congruent with who you are, people start to admire you. People find nothing sexier than someone who knows who they are and what they want.


Commit to having fun.

It's in your mind. You don't need the alcohol to loosen up. You just need to loosen up.

Commit to having the most fun before you go out -- it will soon become second nature. You will base your enjoyment more on the people you interact with -- the music and the environment rather than getting drunk.

When I go out, I pull my shoulders back, feel ten feet tall and imagine my eyes sparkling. I smile when I talk. I'm the crazy one dancing on tables. No one thinks I'm a killjoy.


Play conversation games.

Prepare a fun essence of who you are. “I help people sleep easily at night” is better than “I’m a financial planner.” “I help kids achieve their dreams,” is better than “I’m a teacher.” “I help people make better choices” is better than “I’m a personal trainer.”

When meeting someone new, play the “My Life Story in 60 Seconds.”

The Rules: Start with “I was born in …” end with “and that’s how I got here."

In between you have to talk about family, career, and romance. It’s a fun way to get to know someone.

Here’s an example with a shortened version:

“I was born in Australia. I’m one of three brothers. I’ve visited 44 countries and lived in London, New York, Colombia and Los Angeles. I’ve been in love and had my heart broken. I’ve interviewed star athletes and actors, hosted a TV show, and now I help people create healthy habits like taking a 30-day break from alcohol and sleeping better. Oh, and I love oysters and pizza. And that’s how I got here.”


Be genuinely interested.

The best question is, “What’s your story?” because the conversation will go anywhere and people love talking about themselves.

Listen intently. Pick up on something. And then say, "that sounds interesting, tell me more."


As for what to say when people ask why you're not getting drunk...

If you feel the pressure to drink more than you should, be fun and light hearted.

It's 10 percent what you say and 90 percent how you say it.

Think about George Clooney and Jack Nicolson. Why do we love them? They have that cheeky, confident grin. So when you feel the pressure, grin and say, "nah -- I'm too strong in mind."

Or, “I’ve got to get up early in the morning.” Or “I’m the designated driver” or “No thanks. I’m driving.”

Own your response. When people see your confidence and conviction, they’ll usually leave you alone. If they don’t, be okay with it being their issue.


What to order when you've reached your limit.

Whenever a waiter asks what you'd like to drink once you've reached your limit, repeat these words: "I'll have water, ice, and a piece of lime. Thanks."

It’s my staple drink, costs nothing, tastes amazing and leaves me hydrated, clear-headed for great conversation, and energized for whatever happens during the night.

How excited are you to start partying soberly right now?