Doing your first Christmas sober? Here’s how to enjoy it

Doing your first Christmas sober? Here’s how to enjoy it

You’ve mastered boozeless brunching, and know all the best places to go for mocktails. However, navigating your first sober Christmas can feel challenging for even the most committed non-drinkers.

As a newly sober person, you might feel concerned that you’ll feel pressure to ‘just have the one’ or to ‘take a break’ from your new alcohol-free life to mark the occasion. Christmas is also a time when you might go to stay with family, which can limit access to your usual self-care activities and means you aren’t in a position to leave situations if you feel uncomfortable. You also might not feel ready to explain your reasons for binning the booze, or worry that people won’t understand.

This year will be my third alcohol-free Christmas, and I’ve found that the benefits of skipping the booze during the festive season (and all year round!) far outweigh any negatives. Here are my top tips for enjoying a sober Christmas and making it one to remember for many years to come.

Be Prepared

If you’re visiting family, you don’t want to arrive to find that your Mum has bought you a bottle of your favourite wine or gin. Letting everyone know in advance that you won’t be drinking alcohol avoids situations like this and makes it easier to set boundaries. Framing it as ‘taking a break’ can make it easier for people to understand and be less likely to lead to questions. However, if you’d rather make it clear that this will be a permanent change then it’s important to do what you feel most comfortable with.

Stock up on plenty of alcohol-free drinks to enjoy while you’re away. Whether you prefer alcohol-free alternatives or soft drinks, make sure to pack a good selection so you don’t feel like you’re missing out. Seeing that you have something delicious and exciting to drink will also discourage anyone from trying to convince you to have an alcoholic beverage.

Practice saying no to alcoholic drinks beforehand, either in your head or out loud. A simple, “no thank you” is all it takes. Remember, no one is trying to trip you up or tempt you away from your sobriety. They just don’t want you to feel left out. Also, keep in mind that most people don’t drink every type of alcoholic drink, so it’s perfectly normal for someone to refuse a red wine or pass on prosecco. If you politely refuse any drinks you’re offered and don’t make a big deal out of it, it’s unlikely anyone else will either.

Embrace Activities

Fun activities take the focus away from drinking and are a great way to spend quality time together. Board games, cards, and quizzes all work well, and if you play after everyone else has had a few glasses of wine, you’re also very likely to win!

Think about what Christmas traditions you enjoyed when you were younger. Carol services, a Christmas Eve hot chocolate with plenty of marshmallows, an after-dinner walk, or a favourite film are all fun ways to get in the festive mood without a drop of alcohol.

As an added bonus, you’ll also be able to take full advantage of all the delicious Christmas food without being too drunk or hungover to enjoy it!

Make The Most Of Your Mornings

You might find you have more energy now that Christmas doesn’t involve a constant cycle of drinking and hangovers. Getting active can help to combat any feelings of restlessness or anxiety, and gives you a chance to take some time for yourself.

An early morning walk when everyone else is sleeping off the alcohol from the night before, or a quick yoga or workout session can be a great way to start the day, and experiencing the benefits of a hangover-free Christmas will help to keep your sobriety on track. However, just because you’ve stopped drinking it doesn’t mean that you have to stop having lazy days on the sofa (unless you want to of course!).

Plan An Exit Strategy

Unlike on a night out, when staying with family you can’t just jump in your car or call an Uber when you start feeling pressure to drink or get bored of being around drunk people. If you live locally, driving home rather than staying overnight means you can leave once people go from ‘pleasantly tipsy’ to ‘shouty and repetitive’. However, if you’re further away from home you may have to get a little more creative.

If you need a break, saying that you’re going to bed and then reading a book or listening to a podcast gives you some alone time, and an early night will mean you’re refreshed and ready to make the most of the following day. If you’re lucky enough to have some sober friends, you could arrange a time to check in or agree to call each other if one of you is struggling. Making plans to catch up with friends who live nearby is another great way to get out of the house for an hour or two and do something that doesn’t revolve around alcohol.

Don’t Forget To Have Fun!

Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, so don’t forget to have fun! If you don’t make a big deal out of your sobriety, it’s unlikely anyone else will and it could end up being your best Christmas yet. You’re likely to end your break feeling refreshed and relaxed rather than run-down and exhausted, and seeing how much fun you’re having without alcohol might inspire those around you to take a break from drinking or even stop altogether.

Written by Claire Williams

Claire Williams is a freelance copywriter who helps her clients build genuine connections with their target audience and convert them into customers. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, getting lost in a good book, walking in nature, and cooking (and eating!) delicious food. Find her on Instagram, LinkedIn, or visit her website:

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