The holiday season is often synonymous with festive cheer, family gatherings, trips to the pub, and, for many, an abundance of alcoholic beverages. However, for those choosing sobriety, whether for health reasons, personal preference, or recovery, a sober Christmas can be a bit challenging.
Let’s be honest, winter and alcohol do have a certain beautiful relationship. However, the good news is that having a sober Christmas doesn’t mean missing out on the joy and festivities of the season. In fact, it can actually offer a more authentic, fulfilling, and memorable experience. We’re going to explore 5 top tips to help you celebrate the holidays sober, ensuring that your festive season is filled with genuine happiness, deeper connections, and a newfound appreciation for the magic of Christmas. Let’s crack open a non-alcoholic beer, and do this.
Tip 1 – Commit to Sobriety
This might sound obvious, but the foundation of a successful sober Christmas is a firm decision and commitment to your sobriety. This step is crucial and sets the tone for your entire holiday experience.
Making the Decision
Making the decision is the first part. Decide ahead of time that you will stay sober throughout the holidays. This preemptive decision removes uncertainty and helps you prepare mentally for what’s to come. Then, view your choice to stay sober not as a restriction, but as a positive lifestyle decision that’s going to make your Christmas better. Think about it: no hangovers, no unexpected sadness or anger – just you.
The next step is to Imagine yourself enjoying Christmas sober. Visualisation can be a powerful tool in reinforcing your decision. Think about potential situations where you might be tempted to drink and plan how you will handle them. “Sorry, I’ll have a coke actually”. “I’m doing Christmas sober this year, as an experiment”. “I’m fine thanks, I’ll stick to a soda water”. It might sound ridiculous, but preparing these statements can actually help a lot.
It’s important to also understand your reasons for staying sober. Whether it’s for mental health, physical health, personal growth, or recovery, keeping your ‘why’ in mind can be a strong motivator. The Recovery Village writes:
“Many people find tremendous value in their sobriety, even if they didn’t go to the darkest place some people with addictions do. In fact, more and more people are becoming “sober curious” as a way to have a healthier, more balanced life. Sober living isn’t just interesting; it’s fulfilling and vibrant. The benefits of being sober include real relationships and experiences that you might otherwise miss out on, along with many other good reasons to be sober.”
It’s important to remember why you’ve decided to become sober curious, and to remember what a great achievement it is to even try. This is vital so that when the pressure gets tough, you don’t falter. Think about what you want to achieve by staying sober this Christmas. It could be as simple as remembering every moment or as significant as marking a milestone in your sobriety journey. Then, once this is done, embrace your decision with love. Remembering that it’s a genuinely wonderful choice and, whilst there will be difficulties, there will also be beautifully happy moments.
Tip 2 – Sober Buddy
Let’s be honest -embarking on a sober Christmas journey can be made significantly easier and more enjoyable with the right support. Finding a sober buddy or joining a support group can provide encouragement, understanding, and practical advice during the festive season. Even if it’s just someone to text when the pressure to have a pint gets too much.
The Benefits of a Sober Buddy
Sometimes going sober can feel like a very lonely and isolating experience. It’s nice to know someone else understands what you’re going through. A sober buddy can offer empathy and solidarity. In addition, having someone to check in with regularly can help maintain your commitment to sobriety. This accountability can be a powerful motivator, especially during challenging moments.
Finding a Sober Buddy
If you have a friend that will come around with you everywhere – to every pub and party – and will enjoy being sober with you, then you’ve already got the upper hand. However, not everyone will have this. So what can you do? Well, first of all, whilst it may not feel like it, there are more sober people out there than you think. Finding Youtubers, Influencers or bloggers that resonate with you can help a lot. They speak through their troubles, experiences and often offer a lot to relate to. Don’t be afraid to find sober people out there.
Tip 3 – New Traditions
One of the joys of a sober Christmas is the opportunity to create new traditions that celebrate the season without alcohol. These new rituals can bring a fresh sense of excitement and meaning to your holidays.
If you’re someone that can be sober and do everything that you would do when drunk – late nights, dancing, parties – then you’ve already mastered sobriety. Hats off to you. However, if you’re someone who’s sober and now finds it harder to be around drunk people, at least all of the time, then it’s time to potentially change your plans. Being sober might seem like it closes doors, but it actually opens them up. With no hangovers, you’re suddenly going to have a lot more time on your hands, and passion to do activities. Here’s a list of ideas:
- Dog walks
- Long walks
- Christmas markets
- Movie night
- Sober party
- Games night
- Pub quiz
- Decoration day
Sober people often have one secret weapon: mornings. Mornings are a time of the day that many who drink lose or find difficult. Thus, don’t be afraid to fully enjoy those beautiful mornings. You’ve earned them.
Tip 4 – Non-Alcoholic Drinks
The idea of having a non-alcoholic beer might seem quite unappealing right now but, trust me, when the winter nights come, you’re going to want something to drink that isn’t a coke or a lime and soda. A key aspect of enjoying a sober Christmas is having a selection of delightful non-alcoholic beverages at your disposal. Planning your drink menu might sound obsessive, but actually it’s a great way to put yourself at ease before going out.
Some of you may already know this but, for those who don’t, there are actually a great range of non-alcoholic options available for sober individuals. Some of them are also quite tasty. Having a non-alc in your hand not only makes yourself feel more involved in drinking culture, but it can also stop people from asking questions. Most people just assume you’re having a beer like everyone else. Here’s a list of some the best non-alcoholic options:
- Mocktails (ask the bar for a selection)
- Brooklyn Lager 0%
- Lucky Saint
- Guiness 0%
- Captain Morgan 0%
Remember, just because you’re not drinking alcohol doesn’t mean that your beverage menu should be any less exciting. Getting yourself hyped to try different non-alcoholic drinks will make the evenings more appealing to you. Alcohol is a major part of many people’s Christmases, but you can find replacements that may surprise your taste buds.
Tip 5 – Exit Strategy
Knowing where the door is can be essential when you’re the only sober one. Even with the best planning and intentions, the holiday season can present challenging situations for those choosing sobriety. Having an exit strategy is essential for gracefully navigating these moments without compromising your commitment to a sober Christmas.
Think about past holiday experiences and identify situations or environments that might be challenging. This could be certain social gatherings, family dynamics, or even specific times of the day. Before attending an event, think about how you will handle pressure to drink or uncomfortable questions. Planning your responses and actions in advance can provide a sense of control and confidence. For example, “I’m driving” or “I have to be back not too late tonight”. It might sound slightly depressing, but all it means is that you have an ‘out’ if you really need one.
Leaving is Okay
Ultimately, leaving is okay. FOMO is huge in our society, it follows us everywhere we go – seeping its way through social media constantly. But the truth is you’ve made a decision to enjoy the benefits of sobriety. Part of these benefits is sleeping better and enjoying the mornings – so don’t be afraid to leave early. People might seem initially annoyed but, the truth is, they won’t remember it nor care really. Leave without guilt; you’ve earned it. I Am Sober writes:
“The brain is the first to say, “being sober is boring,” or “a waste of time.” But there are benefits to being sober, that prove how untrue those misconceptions are.”
Remember: you are not boring! Celebrating a sober Christmas is an empowering and rewarding experience that offers numerous benefits, from improved health and deeper connections to a greater appreciation for the true spirit of the season (if you want to get all Love Actually about it!). It might seem like a mountain to climb now but, genuinely, a sober Christmas is a beautiful journey with a heck of a lot of benefits. Enjoy it. Don’t dread it. Merry Christmas.