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9 tips to help you stay sober curious this Christmas

It’s Christmas time and there’s no need to be afraid…

Except, when you’re trying to work on cutting back your alcohol intake, the festive season can be quite a daunting time. Everyone and everything is centred around eating (yay) and drinking (hmm) in copious amounts and saying no at this time of year can seem like an impossible challenge.

You can’t avoid Christmas drinks, whether you work in an office, a factory, in retail or transport there’s a party for every department and your entire diary can seem like it’s full of appointments to drink. And if you happen to work in certain industries (like I did in hospitality) it is literally surrounding you every minute of every working day.

But fear not intrepid reader, for I am here with my trusty old wisdom chest to try to arm you with tools and talismans to ward off the evil booze bandits so that you can take back control of your Christmas and ensure that you drink on your own terms and don’t succumb to the pressures of other people’s expectations.

Table of top tips


1 – Alternate

It’s a very simple process, and one which even the seasoned drinker should be employing to minimise the morning hangover but making sure you have one non-alcoholic drink after every boozy one is a simple way to cut your drinking in half without calling too much attention to it.

Ideally, you’d have a glass of water to help you stay hydrated but if you want to keep in the party mood or are worried that people may notice and make a bigger deal of it than you’d like, you can try ordering some juices or non-alc cocktails/beers that look similar to your normal tipple, and no-one will be any the wiser.

2 – First in first out

Your first option is to arrive early and leave early. This depends on your gregariousness on any given day as if you don’t really feel like socialising and would rather be at home in the warm with your feet up and Corrie on the box then getting in a quickie to show your face and ducking out before the mayhem ensues is a sure-fire way to keep the booze at bay.

3 – Evoke your inner smugness

On the flip side, and this may seem a little odd but bear with me: arrive late. And I don’t mean a fashionably cool 60 minutes late (I am myself in no way cool so in fact have no idea how late fashionably late is, but for the sake of this article let’s leave it at 60 minutes). No I mean a good two hours or so into the event – now this will of course depend on what time it starts and what type of event it is, as if it’s a dinner that’s just a bit rude – but if it’s just a get together, waiting until the group have all got a few drinks in them will bestow upon you a magical power I like to call ‘being a smug git’.

There are few things more powerful in the quest to cut back on your drinking than walking into a room full of people who are already drunk (or on their way) and seeing just how attractive and charming drunk really looks on them.

You can then take your smug git power to the bar, order your AF drink of choice and relax back, knowing how much better in the morning you are going to feel, as Terry from accounting knee slides across the hall with his tie around his forehead.

4 – Make a date

Drinking is not the most important thing you need to do in your life. Fact. So prioritise the things that are. Make a date with a friend that you haven’t seen in a long time; plan a trip with the kids to do something important to them; book in to treat yourself to something meaningful that you don’t want to miss.

Having a focus of something important to do doesn’t always stop you from drinking (we’ve all had many a hangover at the area meeting) but having something that’s important to the people that you love, or something that comes at an expense to you, is a very powerful incentive.

5 – Find a friend

Sober curious is not just a fad people, it’s here to stay. And once you start to embrace it and talk openly to people about your choice to drink less you will be amazed at how many people feel the same way.

Find a SC friend in your workplace who feels the same way as you do and be there to help each other out. This doesn’t mean we judge or shame someone else if they choose to drink but instead be there to support each other when you feel the temptation or just need to know that someone else understands how you feel and that you are not alone – there’s a reason why people in recovery have sponsors.

6 – BYO

Going to a house party, dinner party or a BYO venue. Then definitely do bring your own and then bring some more. The last thing you want to do is run out because you only brought a 4-pack of low alcohol beers or the one bottle of AF wine, and then be left with no option but the hard stuff or tap water.

There are a ton of no and low alcohol products available now (check out the SCFN reviews section to find your new favourites) and some of them really are excellent, some admittedly, are still very much a work in progress, but, Christmas is a great excuse to try out as many as you can.

7 – Plan ahead

Make sure you know where you’re going for drinks and check out the menu online. A lot of venues now have a dedicated alcohol-free section on their menu. If they don’t contact the bar, ask them what they can offer and decide before you get there what you’ll be drinking that night.

That way, as the decision has already been made, you’ll be less likely to throw moderation to the wind and start glugging the vino like a desert camel.

8 – Manage expectations

There is absolutely no harm and definitely no shame in letting people know that you’re choosing not to drink at an event. Looking after your own physical and mental health is the number one gift you can give yourself this Christmas. Yes, you’ll have a few nosey parkers who feel it’s their place (it’s not) to ask you why you’re off the booze but you’re under no obligation to explain yourself to anyone, and by putting it out there from the get-go that you’re not getting on the shots that night it means fewer people trying to entice you into something that you don’t want to do.

9 – Choose your friends wisely

There comes a time when we all know what categories our friends fall into. There’s the work friends who you like but will likely never speak to again after you leave this job; the mum/dad friends who you know from the school run/PTA and you may even have had the odd night out with but really you’re just in it for the kids; the old-school friends who you’ve known since school/college/uni and have a history together that no-one can ever understand – not even you.

And then there’s your ride-or-die friends. The one’s who may have come from any of those groups, but you now know will be there for you through thick, thin and everything in between. The ones you don’t have to explain or justify yourself to and who will support you in whatever you do no matter what. If you have a choice this Christmas and you want the best tips for cutting back on the booze and still having the best time… go out with those friends, you’ll have a blast and nothing else will matter.

Merry sober curious Christmas x


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