How to not drink alcohol over the Christmas season

The Christmas season is fast approaching, and for many this means work Christmas parties, celebrations with friends, family gatherings and an indulgence in food, gifts and … alcohol. As your social calendar fills up, here are some tips on why you might choose not to drink, and how to go about avoiding alcohol or drinking less when Santa is in town.

We understand Christmas can be a stressful time, especially if you’re trying to drink less. Many festive celebrations involve drinking (often to excessive amounts) as part of the holiday spirit, and it is hard not to feel a pressure to conform to these expectations. It’s important to have a solid plan if you want to drink less alcohol this Christmas, or not drink any booze at all.

Advantages of not drinking alcohol over the Christmas season

Think of how much you’ll save by not splashing out on those expensive bottles of champagne or fancy beer! Christmas can be hard on the wallet already; consider what you would save if you chose not to drink at just one festive function (don’t forget to include the greasy hangover food and taxi home!) Now multiply that by the number of events coming up in your calendar. What would you spend the money on instead? Other advantages of not drinking alcohol over Christmas include minimising the chance of saying something regrettable to friends or family, consuming fewer calories that could contribute to ‘the Christmas bloat’, being able to stick to your exercise plan, and having a clearer head during an often stressful and busy end-of-year period.

We have gathered some of the best advice around to help you continue your positive relationship with alcohol this Christmas.

Be selective about the events you attend

Remember that you don’t have to go to every event; if there are certain celebrations that you know will make it really hard for you to feel good about your drinking goal, maybe consider skipping them. Attend the ones that will not focus so much on drinking to have a good time.

Bring your own drinks to Christmas parties

Take your favourite non-alcoholic drinks to the party with you, like a bottle of soda and a lime or a few ginger beers. This way you’re not missing out on drinking altogether and it may be a smart tactic to stop people asking you if you want a drink, every five minutes.

Plan activities that don’t involve sitting around drinking

Organise a friendly game of backyard cricket, a gingerbread-house baking session or DIY holiday card making. Watch a Christmas movie or print off lyrics for carols and have a classic, festive singalong.

Prepare your elevator pitch about why you’re not drinking, and stick to it

Be assertive with your decision to not drink and come prepared to talk about why you have chosen not to. Some people are genuinely interested, and who knows, it may even inspire them to think about their own relationship with alcohol. You could even point them to our free Daybreak app and supportive community if they express any interest in quitting, cutting back, or maintaining the amount of alcohol they drink.

Come up with an exit strategy to leave the party

If it all just gets too much and people are giving you a hard time about not drinking, or everyone’s too smashed to converse coherently, just get out of there. Most of the time they will hardly remember you leaving anyway. Just give the hosts a call or text the next day to thank them for their efforts and mention a few key details you liked about the party.

Focus on the purpose of the event

Remember why you were invited to the event and what the host would want to achieve by it. Time to spend with family? Feeling grateful for the year that was? Quality time with friends? Find the joy in spending quality time with those you love, doing the things you love!

Be the designated driver this Christmas

Take one for the team and offer to drive. Or even go one step further and pick up and drop off friends and family on the way. They will appreciate the good deed and you will have a responsibility to get them home safe and sound.

What is your motivation for going alcohol-light over Christmas and how do you go about achieving it? Share your strategies below to help our community!


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  • Designated driver is a great idea! I would like an alcohol free Christmas Day and I have the perfect excuse – collecting and leaving home family members. And I’ll get brownie points for my generosity in saving them taxi fares 🙂

    By Pat
    December 13, 2018
  • Not everyone has a booked out Christmas. Some of us drink for loneliness. My first social invitation for Christmas day in 17 years, i have decided to attend sober. If they turn out to be tools, i can jump in the car and bolt. Just because I drink, doesn’t mean I can tolerate the company of other drunks. I’d prefer to go home and stare at the wall than listen to drunken family dribble and drama’s.

    By Kim
    December 13, 2018
  • I want to be fully present this Christmas and remember it all. I don’t want to wake up feeling crap and grumpy every morning and make alcohol the focus of my holiday. I want to feel restored by my break from work and routine. My tip – I pour my own drinks and leave the gin out of the tonic. I stack a wine glass with ice and let that slowly dilute a white wine – takes ages to drink a glass like that! Hee hee!

    By Nicky
    December 18, 2018
  • I’ve organised a bike ride with some local dads for early this Sunday morning. As the organiser I have to go, which means I can’t drink too much at the lunch I’m going to on Saturday. Less alcohol and more social exercise. It’s a winner!

    By Steven Hogg
    December 5, 2019
  • I wish and pray that people drink responsibly and safe lives this festive my fingers crossed 🙏.

    By Fridah Mmakoma Mogale
    December 13, 2020
  • I spend all of Christmas Day at home. Everyone in the family will be drinking. When I go outside as I live in an urban area near the town, the pubs will be open and there will be drunk people on the streets. When I am away from my family and in another room by myself it is hard not to focus on alcohol. I quite frequently have the urge to drink and even now I am worrying about how I will get through Christmas Day without a drink as I promised my mother I would stay sober on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve/Day. She believes I may get violent and take my anger out on the family if I drink and she wants a peaceful holiday.

    By Erica
    October 14, 2021
    • Your situation sounds pretty similar to situations i have experienced. Do it your way.

      By Josh
      November 12, 2021
  • I’m 42, from UK, living happily in US now for 10 years with my wife (also from UK).

    Us Brits LOVE a drink. I’ve been a bit overboard recently. I’m lucky enough to have gone back to UK twice this year, each during Covid.

    Each time, more and more temptation since everyday is a different set of friends and family.

    I don’t think I can stop tomorrow. I need to change my behavior and relationship with alcohol. I love (LOVE) all the New England Craft beers, and I am a large white wine fan. I have learnt the hard way that spirits in any shape or form are not for me at all.

    So- we aren’t going back to UK this Christmas because it is hideously expensive since US / UK opened up. We’re going to Mexico instead. I’ll come back to that later.

    Today is 22 November 2021. I just dropped my wife off at Boston Logan airport. She is flying over the pond now- back on 3rd December. I had 2 trips this year, both involved large amounts of alcohol at all times.

    Simple question to this audience, with some pretext. I love my beer, love my wine, often go too far. I’ve gone 3 months without booze a few years ago. I believe that you have to be ready and want to give up alcohol in order to give it up completely. I’m not ready yet. My question is- When will I be ready, without falling into the bottom of the well of this strange addiction?


    By Christopher Weitz
    November 24, 2021
    • Hi Chris, I asked the same question myself and I think have a similar experience but quite a few years older. I am 61 and have drank off and on since I was about 16. I appear to be fairly lucky in that I don’t seem to have a physical addiction as when I stop I don’t really have physical withdrawal even after drinking every night for years. For me it is more mental. I have have used alcohol to get through work and home stresses but after all these years finally learned that it did not help in any way (a slow learner!). I also thought I liked a good cold beer or glass of Sauvignon but when I really thought it through I realised I was connecting all sorts of benefits to it that did not really exist. It did help me relax for an hour or two but very soon after I either got too drunk or fell asleep, then poor sleep during the night and difficult day next day. My suggestion is really see if you can understand what benefits you mentally are assigning to your beer or white. I found with myself that I was just creating false benefits to justify what if was doing. What I was really doing was using alcohol to avoid emotions and face up to real things I needed to address. Took me more than forty years to be clear and honest with myself! All the best.

      By Andrew B
      December 24, 2021
    • Dear Chris, I fully commiserate with your quandry about “when will I be ready ?” to quit alcohol. Far be it from me to counsel you, but for me I just decided last February 2nd, to GET REAL with why I was drinking every day and to not lie to myself about what alcohol represented to me. No more excuses.! I simply came to the conclusion that I wished to get back to being in control of my health and wellbeing and reaquaint myself with the REAL me , not the alcohol controlled me. So some serious, sincere and truthful soul searching has to be done to determine very accurately WHY do I drink ?……and it’s called self love and self care. Dear Chris, when you do that you’ll be ready, just as I did. Wishing you success,….you won’t regret it !!

      By Jennifer Douglas
      December 26, 2021
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