I honestly feel like I am back at the kid’s table at the age of 28.
Heck The Halls
I feel as if this is my first holiday season where I am mentally committed to my zero-alcohol lifestyle. Last Christmas, I was still having a few sips of alcohol here and there for ‘cheers’ situations. But even sips make me feel sick, ( ie. I throw up every-time I drink) and so now drinking any amount of alcohol is not something I feel obliged to do. But that does not mean it is without difficulty. Living an alcohol free lifestyle is a complete uprooting of one’s social environment.
It is weird to me how soon Christmas is. I have felt disconnected from all the festivities this year. Of-course, I will still have family time around the tree opening presents, but I don’t really have many Christmas events lined up. This is because I am not actively reaching out to be invited to things since it is not something I authentically crave anymore. But I still have moments of grief and loneliness when reminiscing about how my holidays used to be.
Adding to the “woe is me” part:
– being single adds an extra sense of difficulty, because I don’t have that partner in crime who respects my choices and helps me feel less alien-like at events. (I mean I am hoping a boyfriend would help with that???)
– the holiday season is even more of a nightmare for me because not only am I alcohol-free, but I am dairy-free, gluten-free, & vegetarian.
HECK THE HALLS AM I RIGHT!
Considering all of this, I honestly feel like I am back at the kid’s table at the age of 28. A child just wandering around lost, trying to find her seat and being difficult.
The Holidays and Alcohol
I find the holidays and alcohol to have a very interesting relationship. A study from US NEWS says social drinkers are subject to more environments where drinking is involved, such as house parties, work parties, holiday events, or anything where alcohol is significantly present. Morning Recovery states that the average American consumes 2x the amount of alcohol over the holidays vs. any other time of the year. Don’t forget how advertisements, commercials, and other forms of media continue to push this relationship on us as it is quite profitable.
Drinking is clearly a huge part of the holiday season and will continue to be for quite some time. Being alcohol-free means you will have to get comfortable with the fact that you won’t always feel included, and that’s okay! What I really don’t want to happen is for you (& me!) to sink into the idea that we can’t do things just because we don’t drink. As a result, below I have laid out 6 scenarios that could bring you difficulty, as well as alcohol-free solutions that I believe will make the holiday season much more enjoyable for the sober and sober-curious.
6 Holiday Environments & Their Alcohol-Free Solutions:
Instantly when I think of work parties, I picture The Office because of the literal chaos it ensues. Don’t you find work parties to be some of the craziest parties of the whole holiday season? Typically this is where drinking feels so necessary because it eases tension between people you don’t know very well, as well as being around your bosses. The party for my part-time job is coming up soon and I have high expectations 😂. Nevertheless, here are a few way to have fun at work party sans alcohol:
🧃Let the party planners know you don’t drink alcohol ahead of time. This gives them a chance to see if they can request some fun mocktails.
🧃Talk about it to your work bffs! More often than not they will be willing to be there for you during the night. If you don’t have a work bff yet or someone you trust at your workplace, call a friend ahead of time to mentally prepare. Once you are there, be present in the moment, have a bit of fun, and know when to call it a night.
🧃Check out if there will be any fun activities happening at the party and figure out a strategy on how you are going to win at it! (even if there is nothing to win….)
🧃Don’t feel shame for leaving early! The biggest thing is that you went. Now get home, cuddle into bed, and be asleep before midnight.
You see it in movies, you see it in real life. Big family reunions often come with many arguments & annoyances, with alcohol as the common denominator. Your family knows how to hit your buttons and can become even more outspoken after a few drinks. They might voice opinions you really don’t agree with or they might call you out for not drinking. My family doesn’t do this per se but they sure know how to make me *eye twitch* 😅 (sorry mom who is definitely reading this). But family is family and part of the holidays.
🧃 First off, set boundaries with your family. They will likely task you to have a few sips even just to cheers, or will unknowingly guilt-trip you “because it’s Christmas cmon!”. This is a great chance to practice your boundary setting and explaining your reasons to those who (hopefully) will unconditionally love and respect you.
🧃There a chance some of your family members can be quite toxic to your self worth and lifestyle. If this is true, mentally plan ahead what you will do if something were to happen. Maybe its an affirmation you can say to yourself to help you remain calm and get through the night. Or maybe it’s as simple as leaving the room.
🧃Of-course most of your family are lovely and will want to make you comfortable. Ask to help make the food to keep busy. Bring a mocktail recipe to make when you are there. Honestly your family probably will want to try it.
🧃Make sure there are activities set up for the night that have no requirement to drink! Whether it’s Settlers of Catan, Cards Against Humanity, Pictionary, Monopoly, puzzles, or a fav Christmas Movie, get amped up in the best way.
Typically alot of our friends are from environments like high-school and university where drinking was second nature. Turning to an alcohol-free lifestyle might find you struggling to keep up with the party vibes. Of-course you can always keep going to the parties, but there will be moments where it just feels energy draining. Going alcohol-free might also bring you feelings of loneliness and self-doubt, seeing all your friends out drinking and having a blast. For me I did not really have a choice, but I know how easy it is to fall back into what is comfortable. The great thing though is that friends come & go, but the ones that matter will stick around no matter what! So stay true to your values and keep putting one foot in front of the other!
🧃Be vulnerable and let your friends know that you are feeling uncomfortable in whatever situation. Don’t tell them everything is okay if it isn’t!
🧃Plan an evening with your friends that you can request to be alcohol-free. Your friends might even appreciate the idea of taking a break from drinking!
🧃Work on networking with new non-drinking friends! This is something I actively want to start doing myself. I have started following pages like Sober Babes Vancouver, Sansorium, and Sober Girl Society to give me some inspo and ways to meet new people!
🧃Look up recipes for fun alcohol-free Christmas drinks or put a spin on your favourite soda to share with your friends. I love me a non-alcoholic mimosa with sparkling water.
Christmas night markets, light festivals, romantic snowshoes can often come with the “bonus” of alcohol in the form of schnapps in hot tea or baileys hot chocolate. (At least this was very much my experience during my time in Switzerland. They love the schnapps!!!) Obviously we have the choice to have just tea and the plain hot chocolate, but sometimes it’s just not as exciting. Alcohol also might be something you are trying to avoid altogether and it being at every single holiday event can be a lot.
🧃Go t0 day-time events! Yes, there might be a lot of kids around but that does not mean it’s not fun! Sometimes watching kids play is super interesting and healing for your inner child. Being a kid again and having imagination is a skill we should use forever! It will also typically be alcohol-free.
🧃Obviously we don’t want to miss out on the holiday lights at night-time, so research ahead of time what activities are offered and DM them to see if they offer warm alcohol-free drinks so you can feel included. If not, bring your own in a thermos!
Alcohol is an easy gift because typically every loves to get alcohol for free. When you don’t drink, it’s easy to feel as if you are a bit more high maintenance. I am used to it will all my allergies, but for someone who isn’t, it can be easy to feel like a nuisance. Alcohol is also a super easy gift when visiting family and friends, so finding an alternative can require more effort.
🧃Be vocal about your choice to not drink ahead of time so people don’t accidentally buy you alcohol for Christmas just because they don’t know.
🧃It might feel weird to assume someone is going to get you a gift, but maybe just saying it will help them get the hint.
🧃When buying gifts for others, be creative! Instead of going to the liquor store, really get to know them (especially your workplace secret santa) and see what they might enjoy. Their cupboards will be stocked with alcohol likely anyways! (They might be annoyed they DIDN’T get alcohol but it’s not the end of the world).
I mean…….. I don’t have to say much about this holiday for you to understand why it is hard to enjoy sober. This is alcohol’s shining moment. Yes it is to celebrate for a new year, but for someone my age, it really is just a time to drink a-lot. I can remember how hungover I was on each January 1st.
Also when midnight strikes, not only will I not have champagne, but I don’t get the kiss experience with someone I would call my partner. #letsmanifesttho It is very anti-climactic for me and I will probably avoid it 😅 But if you do REALLY want to celebrate:
🧃Plan to watch the ball drop at home with some friends! Make it the ultimate Girls Night In!
🧃Go and watch some fireworks near by and bring some snacks!
🧃Go to bed early for the morning Polar Bear Plunge! I am really thinking of doing it for the first time this year.
Need some Non-Alcoholic Recommendations? Shop below for some of my favourite mocktails at the moment.
Other blog posts you may enjoy:
10 Things I Have Noticed Being Without Alcohol For One Year.
How To: Throw A Sustainable Party
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