The holidays can seem overwhelming when you don’t drink.
It’s the season of spiking the eggnog, drinking a little too much cider to get through family events, champagne toasts and boozy bar crawls with hometown friends.
Whether you’re drinking to celebrate or to calm your nerves due to your crazy aunt, alcohol is almost synonymous with the holidays.
This makes things pretty tough if you don’t drink.
Whether it’s for religious reasons, health reasons or because you’re in recovery, it can really be a challenge to stay sober, but still have fun and maintain your sanity.
It’s doable, though.
Here are some tips:
1. Have something fun to drink.
There’s nothing crappier than watching your friends throw back that fun seasonal punch while you sip on seltzer (no hate on seltzer).
Drinks don’t have to have alcohol in them to be delicious. You can just leave it out.
Or, bring a pitcher of your own non-alcoholic, festive drink. There are a million recipes for them on the Internet.
You just have to look.
That way, you don’t feel like you’re missing out on the festivity of holiday-themed drinks.
2. Always have one drink in your hand.
It just makes things easier to have something non-alcoholic to sip on while you’re watching other people drink.
The best part is, most of the time, if you’re at a bar and sipping soda, there's no charge.
So, if you’re anything like me and get a little angsty watching your friends do shots, feel free to guzzle your Diet Coke as quickly as you want to.
You’re not paying for the next one, either.
Bonus points: Start calculating how much money your friends are spending on drinks, and smile to yourself when you realize your money’s staying in your pocket.
3. Have excuses.
People are probably going to ask you why you’re not drinking.
It’s kind of rude, but it happens. There’s no reason to be nervous about it.
It’s honestly only a big deal if you make it a big deal.
If you feel comfortable being honest about your decision, by all means, be honest.
But if you don’t feel like a dive bar is the best time to say, “I’m not drinking anymore because I’m in recovery,” I totally get that.
You shouldn’t have to.
Here are some of my favorite excuses:
1. I’m doing this new cleanse diet where I can’t drink for a week. I know; it totally sucks.
2. I have an early flight, meeting or plans with my parents. I absolutely can’t be hungover.
3. I’m driving tonight. Sorry. (Guess what? No one cares if you’re actually driving, but no one is going to push you to drink after this one.)
4. I’m so hungover from last night. I just can’t.
5. I’m on antibiotics or meds I can’t drink with.
Also, if your friends keep pushing you after this, they’re kind of assh*les.
4. Remember why you’re doing it.
If you’re in early recovery, this can be a dangerous time. You need to remember why you started.
If it helps you, make a list of the reasons you decided not to drink, and revisit it whenever you need a reminder of why — no matter how much it sucks at the time — you can’t drink.
5. Have a sober friend.
More people decline to drink than you’d think, even though it may feel like every person around you is getting stupidly drunk.
Find your person before the holidays.
You may not be able to take the person home to the family with you or have him or her babysit you at parties, but it’s surprisingly helpful to be able to whip out your phone to complain and whine to your sober friend.
Not drinking can feel lonely, but there’s strength in numbers.
6. Take advantage of your sobriety.
You’re saving so much money.
Another awesome thing you’re saving? Calories.
Now, you can feel a little less bad about eating all those cookies.
Here are some other awesome benefits to being sober during the holidays:
1. You can DD if you want to. People love DDs.
2. You’ll remember everything that happened last night, including the dumb sh*t your friends did. You can laugh at them in the morning.
3. No hangovers.
4. There's less of a chance of ill-advised hookups with your high school boyfriend.
The best benefit, though, is the clear head you’ll have through the holidays.
You'll be able to see the holidays for what they can really be: a time to hang out with your family and friends and celebrate being together.
Not drinking can really help you take advantage of that. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all.