Even if you haven’t touched a drink in months and feel confident in your new alcohol and drug-free life, the holiday season presents unique challenges for sober folks. For starters, it seems as though there are alcohol advertisements everywhere. They look different, but they have the same message — drink this and your holidays will be better.
As if the advertisements weren’t enough, friends and family stand at the ready, waiting to offer you a glass of mulled wine or a flute of champagne as soon as you arrive. For lack of a better simile, turning down their well-intentioned hospitality feels a bit like playing whack-a-mole.
Maintaining your sobriety in the face of these temptations is an uphill battle, to say the least. But it’s far from impossible. In this article, we’re giving you 9 tips to help you get through your first sober Christmas. Take some time to review them before the holiday season kicks off, and you’ll find it much easier to navigate this festive time of year.
Struggling to get sober this holiday season? Contact La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center at 888.903.9898 for help.
What Is Sober Christmas?
Simply put, it means celebrating the holidays without drugs or alcohol. Beyond that, it involves prioritizing sobriety and actively choosing to steer clear of substances that impair your judgment or behavior. While not guaranteed, the goal is to soak up the holiday magic without relying on substances.
Everyone is different, so sober Christmases will look different as well. Some people may avoid parties and events where alcohol is present, while others may wholeheartedly embrace social outings. Some may substitute holiday drinks with non-alcoholic options, while others might make entirely new Christmas traditions. The point is, there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate Christmas while sober.
9 Tips for Staying Sober Over Christmas
We’ve compiled 9 tips to guide you through your first sober Christmas. It’s a comprehensive list, so feel free to pick and choose the tips that resonate with you the most. If some don’t quite hit the mark, skip them — what matters most is finding the perfect combination that helps you stay sober this holiday season.
1. Be selfish
It’s not often that we’ll tell you to be selfish, but when it comes to staying sober over Christmas, it’s one of the best pieces of advice we can give you. Prioritizing your needs keeps you away from triggering situations, helps you manage stress, and ensures that you only do things that benefit your sobriety.
Being selfish looks different for everyone, but it could mean things like skipping your neighbor’s boozy Christmas bash or leaving the office Christmas party before the shots start flowing.
2. Remind yourself of your sober commitment
The temptation to drink is strong when there’s mulled wine and spiked hot chocolate around every corner. Instead of succumbing, take the opportunity to remind yourself why you decided to get sober in the first place.
It’s also helpful to think about how much your life has improved without all of the guilt, shame, and hangovers that come with substance use. If neither of these strategies works, ask yourself what you’ll gain from drinking, and decide if it’s worth breaking your sober streak for it.
To be clear, reaffirming your sober commitment won’t make all of your cravings go away, but it will make it easier for you to turn down a drink.
3. Avoid events where you’ll be the only sober person
This strategy is extreme. But if you’re someone who struggles to turn down drinks or deflect questions about your drinking, you might be better off declining invitations to boozy parties — at least during your first year of sobriety.
It might sound a bit anti-social, but Christmas parties can be overwhelming, even for the most seasoned sober folks. Consequently, they may not be the ideal setting for sober newbies to practice their substance-free social skills.
If the thought of skipping parties has got you down, remember that it doesn’t mean becoming a hermit forever. There will be other, less intense gatherings in the future where you can flex your sober muscles.
4. Find a sober companion
One of the best ways to navigate holiday parties while sober is having a sober companion. This could be a friend you bring along intentionally for support or someone already at the party who isn’t drinking.
Although it’s a straightforward approach, having a fully engaged companion will make your night that much better. Think about it: no more awkward conversations with drunk people. Instead, you can share a meaningful connection with someone who understands and supports your sobriety. This not only strengthens your commitment but also adds positive energy to the festive atmosphere.
5. Explore alcohol-free drink options
Long gone are the days when not drinking meant suffering through a cup of seltzer water or a can of O’Douls. Nowadays, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of non-alcoholic beverages on the market. From booze-free beers and wines to non-alcoholic spirits and botanical elixirs, the options are endless. Sample a few options as you prepare for the Christmas season, then bring along a few of your favorites to your next holiday gathering.
This tip works well for house parties, but it’s not ideal when you’re attending an event at a bar or restaurant. If that’s the case, we recommend researching the venue ahead of time to see which non-alcoholic options are available. In addition, you can check out mocktail recipes and have some drink suggestions in mind before heading to the event.
6. Have an exit strategy
Before you step foot into a party this Christmas season, make sure you know when and how you’re going to leave.
The when question could mean setting a curfew for yourself or simply deciding to go home once you start yawning. As for the how question, driving is your best option. That way, you have to stay sober and you have the freedom to leave whenever you want.
One final tip: don’t feel obligated to say goodbye when you leave. Sure, it’s the polite thing to do, but if it means staying for longer than you want or having to turn down drinks, then slip out the door before anyone notices.
7. Make new holiday traditions
Somewhere along the way, Christmas became a big drinking holiday, but it wasn’t always like that. Just think back to when you were a kid — Christmas was a time of wonder and joy and you didn’t need substances to enjoy it.
Recapture some of that early Christmas magic as you make new sober holiday traditions. For instance, you could walk around your neighborhood to see Christmas lights, drink hot chocolate at a Christmas market, or go ice skating.
8. Take care of yourself
Self-care is important year-round, but it’s crucial during the hectic Christmas season. Amidst the whirlwind of parties, gift-giving, and heightened expectations, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and neglect your well-being. Since stress is a significant trigger for drinking alcohol, effective stress management is essential for maintaining sobriety during the holiday season.
In addition to basic recommendations like getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and maintaining a balanced diet, self-care can take various forms. Simple practices such as taking a leisurely walk, hitting the gym, savoring a cup of tea, or indulging in an episode of your favorite show can significantly contribute to your overall well-being.
9. Reframe your thinking
Even if you’ve been sober for a while, it can be tough to get over the idea that giving up alcohol represents a loss. It might feel like missing out on social opportunities, fun, or excitement.
Rather than dwelling on what you’ve given up, shift your focus to what you’ve gained through sobriety. Perhaps you’re more confident. Maybe you’ve established a regular exercise routine or found yourself with more energy than ever. Whatever the positive changes, concentrate on the benefits of sobriety rather than dwelling on perceived drawbacks.
La Fuente Wishes You a Merry Sober Christmas
We hope these tips prove useful as you navigate your first sober Christmas. As mentioned before, feel free to pick and choose the ones that resonate with you the most. Experiment, find what works for you, and do your best to stay sober this Christmas.
If you’re struggling to stay sober during the holiday season, La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center is here to help. Our intake staff is available 24/7 to answer your questions and find the right treatment program for you.
Call us at 888.903.9898 for more information.