How to Navigate the Holidays Sober, With Humor

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No matter how long it’s been since you’ve had a drink, the holidays bring a special kind of pressure. Tipsy relatives asking you questions you don’t want to answer. Friends hosting booze-fueled New Year’s Eve events. Those same 10 Christmas tunes. It’s no wonder this is a season many newly sober people dread as much as they enjoy.

This year, we polled some of our favorite writers on how to navigate the holidays sober, with humor. What we got was a mix of snappy comebacks, clever tips, and good one-liners to keep you chuckling as you make your way through the yuletide minefield. With any luck, you’ll come out the other side stronger than ever. And just remember—if you hear Mariah Carey, run.

Here’s some tips, thoughts, and holiday humor to help you stay sober at that Christmas party:

Tips For Navigating the Holidays Sober

navigating the holidays sober christmas party
Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik on Unspla

Treat your family gatherings like an airplane—always know where the nearest exit is!

Have a response if someone asks you why you’re not drinking. For example, tell them you would, but the host ran out of your favorite blood type. You might even meet a real vampire. Win-win.

Find a friend or family member you can turn to if you experience cravings to drink. They can support you in avoiding alcohol, and you can help them stay calm around that aunt who always asks why they’re not married.

When they ask you why you’re not drinking, tell them that you’ve decided to become a camel. You drank enough in the first part of your life, and it’s all stored in your hump.

If the family is stressing you out, just remember that drinking is, at best, a temporary fix. A better option is to find a new family. Preferably one that has a killer family chocolate cake recipe.

If someone questions why you’re staying sober through the holidays, you can list activities that are easier to do sober, including:

  • talking
  • moving around
  • doing impressions of your most annoying coworkers
  • grocery shopping
  • performing acrobatics in a three-ring circus
  • driving
  • picking people up…literally picking people up off the ground
  • cooking
  • robbing a bank
  • remembering the endings of stories
  • overthrowing the government

That’s just a short list. Use your imagination. Could you successfully stage a coup after five eggnogs? Didn’t think so.

More Holiday Sobriety Tips

Only attend events that are in your comfort zone. Avoid BYOB invitations, and instead enjoy BYOCC events (bring your own candy canes).

Instead of reaching for a drink to ease the tension, reach for the remote. Because “Elf” can loosen anybody up.

It’s okay if your drink is more Egg and no Nog. Your family and friends will understand.

This holiday season, ‘Hot Toddy’ can just be one of your friends, and not in a glass.

When people ask why you’re not drinking, ask if they’ve visited recently.

On New Year’s Eve, bring your own beer can helmet, as well as a 4 foot beer bong and a case of O’Doul’s. Just because you’re not drinking, doesn’t mean you’re not there to party!

Custom t-shirt idea: “I don’t need a drink. I dance like this sober!”

When people offer you a drink, say no, you’ve got a sleigh to ride.

Cut most of the mall Santas out of your life.

This holiday party season, pack the sleigh with non-alcoholic beer. That way, when you’re stopped at a police checkpoint and they hand you a breathalyzer, you’ll only blow a “point-O’Doul’s.”

To avoid the pressures of the season, celebrate a holiday in a different religion. You’ll be far too confused to be stressed.

Claudia Christian’s Party Tricks

navigating the holidays sober talking with santa under a bridge
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Claudia Christian, successful actress and founder of the C Three Foundation, shares some of her favorite ways to navigate a holiday party without drinking a single drop.

When someone offers you a drink, reply “No thanks, I had plenty before I got here!” That one always makes me chuckle to myself because God knows it’s TRUE!

I always volunteer to be the driver. It keeps me honest, and I get to remember all of the silly things everyone did—and remind them when I need leverage. 🙂

I bring a six pack of one of the amazing new IPA non-alcoholic beers with me to parties. Looks real, tastes real. With no hangovers or kissin’ strangers? Sold!

Bring some delicious, homemade cookies with brown flecks of something in them (chopped up raisins, chocolate, etc.). Wait until people have eaten them, then shout “Oh no! Those were the extra strong pot cookies for (add name of relative who has hip, knee, whatever pain)! Watch to see if people start getting “fake stoned.” Psychosomatic-placebo fun, baby!

If anyone under the influence pressures me to drink at a party, I tell them one of these:

Claudia’s “Top 10 Most Interesting Excuses Not to Drink”

  1. I’ve volunteered to carry the child of a gay couple and I’m living the clean life in preparation.
  2. I’m studying for my pilot’s license, and they intend to check me for drugs and alcohol randomly during the holiday season.
  3. I have changed my tune about children and am starting an incredibly expensive cycle of in vitro fertilization (this one tends to really shut them up).
  4. I’m training for an Ironwoman competition in Hawaii….in an active volcano.
  5. I’m on antibiotics for an incredibly rare jungle-based infection (this will clear a path immediately).
  6. I have become a Seventh Day Adventist and would LOVE to share what I’ve learned about the religion (this will also clear the room)!
  7. I am training to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race, and need to stay focused.
  8. Drinking alcohol makes me sleepy, and I really want to be awake to hear all of your amazing stories!
  9. I’m driving an Uber for extra holiday spending money. Ooops! Gotta run—I just got booked!
  10. I’m filming in the morning darling, gotta look fabulous. 🙂

Support Through the Holidays, and Beyond

All joking aside, we know that navigating the holidays sober can be a big challenge. Ria Health is here to support you through it all. Our experienced coaches can help you identify drinking triggers, and prepare for them ahead of time. Our licensed physicians can also prescribe medications that may reduce your desire to drink. Best of all, our program can be done 100 percent from your smartphone, via our convenient app.

Get in touch today to learn more about our program, or read more about how it works.

From the whole team at Ria Health, we wish you a safe, healthy, joyful, and fun holiday season!

Have questions about online alcohol treatment?

or call (800) 504-5360

Written By:
Ria Health Team
Ria Health’s editorial team is a group of experienced copywriters, researchers, and healthcare professionals dedicated to removing stigma and improving public knowledge around alcohol use disorder. Articles written by the “Ria Team” are collaborative works completed by several members of our writing team, fact-checked and edited to a high standard of empathy and accuracy.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
Evan O’Donnell is an NYC-based content strategist with four years’ experience writing and editing in the recovery space. He has conducted research in sound, cognition, and community building, has a background in independent music marketing, and continues to work as a composer. Evan is a deep believer in fact-based, empathic communication—within business, arts, academia, or any space where words drive action or change lives.

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