How To Party Without Drinking — 5 Tips For Sober Celebration

Treatment Guru

Being the only sober one at a party can be very uncomfortable — not only do you feel like you’re missing out on the fun, but you’ll be inundated with questions about why you aren’t drinking and might have to give long and awkward answers to those questions.

If you’ve struggled with alcohol addiction and are recovering, being surrounded by drinkers can be difficult, and you don’t need their questions making it any harder. This time of year, with Halloween, holiday parties, Thanksgiving, and Christmas coming up, can be especially difficult. Here’s how to have a good time at all those big social events without drinking — and without having to talk about it.

Always Have A Drink In Your Hand

This seems counterintuitive, but the most obvious sign that you’re not drinking is, well, not drinking. If you’re not holding a drink, someone will probably try to get you one, and you’ll have to explain why you don’t have one to everyone who asks.

The solution? Have a drink in your hand. If you’re carrying a glass with ice and liquid in it, people won’t give you a second glance. It’s easy to put a slice of lime in a glass of seltzer water or Coke or to make straight orange juice or ginger ale look like a cocktail. Most people won’t even notice.

Avoid the Backstory

Some people will find out that you don’t drink and want to know why, but people in a party atmosphere generally don’t want to hear about your past struggles with addiction. Lucky for you, the average stranger doesn’t actually care why you’re not drinking — it’s just a reflexive follow-up question.

That means you can brush them off with a simple cliche like “I’m not drinking tonight,” “I’m trying to cut back,” “I have to get up early,” or “I’m the designated driver.” Then change the subject to your local sports team and they probably won’t think about it again.

There’s an exception to this strategy — if you’re around family or co-workers, you’ll probably be seeing them in a context with alcohol again, and you’ll have to make up fresh excuses. If it’s someone you spend a lot of time with, take the time to explain your history with alcohol once, and you shouldn’t have to do it again.

Change The Focus Of The Party

Lots of people get together just to drink and talk. That’s fine, and you might have been one of them. But if you’re not drinking, that’s not the kind of gathering you should be seeking out.

If you’re hosting, make the party about something else! Host a party during a sports game so people have something else to look at and talk about. Do a movie night or a board game night. Serve food — if you have food in your hands, no one will think it’s weird that you don’t have a drink in your hand instead.

If people around you are getting drunk enough to be sloppy, they’re not just going to be pressuring you to drink too — they’re not going to be much fun to hang out with either.

Having a friend at the party who’s also not drinking is a great way to bond with someone over music or conversation instead of alcohol. Chances are, there’s someone else at the party who’s a designated driver or is getting up early, or might even share your history of addiction and be able to sympathize.

If your life used to be dominated by groups of people sitting around with a 12-pack and the TV on in the background, you’re in for a treat — there’s lots of other stuff going on!

Check Groupon or LivingSocial for activities in your area — they’re usually stuffed to the gills with activities that don’t have to center around drinking. Local sports games, dance lessons, planetarium shows, climbing gyms, ropes courses, monster truck shows, plays, murder mystery dinners, and so much more.

Feel like a historical sword fighting course for two? Or maybe a full day of paintball? You’ll never run out of ideas, you’ll keep yourself busy without drinking, and you might even learn some new skills!

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