15 Ways to Stay Sober Through the Holidays

5 minute read

By Christopher Brown

Staying sober over the holidays while fulfilling your social obligations can be difficult, to say the least. Aren’t the holidays all about indulgence? Fortunately, if you start a search online, you can find ways to stay sober through the holidays.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you turn down the party sauce but still have fun. So put on your comfiest sweater, light the Yule log, and pour a glass of (virgin) eggnog. This might be your healthiest and most memorable holiday yet!

The “Dixie Cup Full of Juice” Trick

First, let me say that this is an absolute classic move. It’s gotten me through a ton of awkward office dinner parties and saved me a lot of money on Gatorade and Extra Strength Advil Liquid Gels.

The logic goes like this: if you have a drink in your hand, people won’t pressure you to drink. It’s easy to turn down the offer of another drink with a casual “I’ve already got one.” Plus, it’ll save you having to have the “why aren’t you drinking tonight?” conversation 5 times in one night.

This strategy works just as well with an empty cooler can or a dark colored beer bottle.

Be the Designated Driver

Another classic holiday party move is offering to drive your friends to and from the event. Not only will you be an absolute hero, your friends will probably reward you with a bunch of free things too. And if you’re lucky, the restaurant or bar might offer you a free soda or two!

This comes with a warning though. Sometimes, driving your drunk friends home after a long night of drinking can be really, really annoying.

Don’t be afraid to set the ground rules for your ride. It might save you a few hundred dollars’ worth of cleaning supplies and a relationship or two.

Leave Early

I can’t take credit for this one. A few years ago at an office Christmas party, I was sharing a table with my supervisor. We finished eating dinner and the masses migrated to the bar. As the shots began to flow, my aforementioned supervisor leaned close and wisely whispered, “Now is the time to leave.”

And, just like Kaiser Soze, he was gone. He fulfilled his obligation as a manager while avoiding the embarrassment that inevitably accompanies getting sloshed with your co-workers. I wish I had done the same.

Plan Something for the Next Morning

I use this one all of the time. Pick up an overtime shift at work, plan a date with your better half or schedule an oil change, and you’ve got a readymade excuse no one can argue with.

The trick to this strategy is that the “errand” has to be involved enough that you can’t do it while hungover and it has to be something that you can’t blow off without having to deal with real-world repercussions. Just picture your 4-year-old niece’s face when your disappointed brother tells her that you aren’t coming for a visit anymore. Put down the beer, you monster!

Have a Mantra

Before you go out for the night, prepare a little anti-alcohol mantra for yourself. Keep it in your pocket and repeat it whenever you’re tempted to walk up to the bar and order a drink.

Think of your mantra as your reset button. It’s a way to remind yourself of the importance of your sobriety.

Drink Something Different

News flash: just because you’re staying sober doesn’t mean you have to swear off all liquids.

Bartenders are trained to make delicious drinks. And not all drinks have alcohol in them. So, next time you’re itching for something to sip on, try ordering a Club Soda and Lime, a Faisal Ali, an Arnold Palmer or a Shirley Temple.

Hang With the Sober People

The hardest part about being sober at a raging house party is having to deal with the constant barrage of drunk people talk. It’s not fun. At all.

So? Bring a friend to be sober with!

Even better, take a look a round the room and figure out who else is sober, then spark up a conversation. And don’t be nervous, because they’ll be just as grateful to talk to a sober person as you are.

Be Reasonable

Ok. So you plan to be sober at the holiday party, but instead you end up slamming a few back. That’s alright. Don’t beat yourself up. It happens to all of us.

Be reasonable with yourself, be nice to yourself and set realistic goals. And, maybe next time, you’ll only have 1 drink.

Visualize Yourself Saying No

Visualization is way more effective than most people think. Professional athletes do it all the time as part of their pre-game ritual.

Close your eyes, picture a super sexy person offering to buy you a drink, and picture their super-sexy look of confusion when you politely tell them no.

The imagination is a super sexy thing. Use it to your advantage.

Actually Do Things

Here’s a tip: do something with your friends that actually requires you to be sober. It’s way more fun than sitting around drinking every time McCaulay Culkin says “Merry Christmas” in Home Alone.

Go to a public skating rink, go see a movie, or drive around town judging people’s holiday decorations. Trust me; it’s a blast.

Eat Something

It’s easy to forget that the holidays are about more than just getting absolutely obliterated. They’re also about food! Really, really good food!

Head over to the hors d’oeuvre table and do a little snacking. Again, this is a health and wellness website, so I’m obligated to warn you about over-eating. Everything in moderation! (Then again, considering how many calories are in your average alcoholic beverage, you’ll probably still come out ahead.)

Avoid the “Crazy” Parties

Let’s get real. You know which parties are the “crazy” parties.

The one at your Aunt’s place with the seemingly endless supply of rum. The unofficial young-people office party at that hot new nightclub downtown. Or that ugly sweater party that your old college roommate invited you to.

It’s safe to say that you should probably avoid any holiday party that begins after 10 PM and eliminate the temptation to drink completely!

Plan Your Exit Strategy

If you have a legitimate excuse to leave the party early, then no one can really blame you. Granted, you’re an adult and don’t need permission to do anything, but an exit strategy never hurts.

Make a plan for yourself and stick to it. Don’t get persuaded to stay past you self-imposed 11PM curfew. The earlier you leave, the more likely you are to leave sober!

Pretend You’re Drunk

I’ve actually tried this one too. It didn’t feel all that great, and I felt like a fraud… but it was in high school and I didn’t know what else to do.

The key to pretending you’re drunk? First, mess up your hair a little bit. Second, stain your shirt and act like it’s normal. Third, tuck or un-tuck half of your shirt. You’ll blend in to the drunken masses and no one will be the wiser.

Be Strong

This is more of an affirmation than a tip.

Just think about it this way: By being self-aware and taking a pro-active stance on your holiday consumption, you’ve already won! You’re trying your hardest to correct behavior that you aren’t happy with. And that’s the first step. Spend time with your family and remember that the holidays are about compassion, not alcohol.

Christopher Brown