Wednesday 25 November 2015

SoberMummy's Party Survival Guide

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all my friends over the pond! This post is in honour of you...

It's the party season. And parties are often the most tricky thing about getting sober.

I think it's especially hard for us because we, my friends, used to be the party people! That's what got many of us into this mess in the first place, isn't it? We were the dancers, the raconteurs, the life and soul, the last to leave....

....but we didn't do it alone, did we? We always had our friend - the booze - with us. Until our best buddy turned on us, defriended us on Facebook and made our lives hell.

Believe me, parties can and will be fun again. However, it's probably the area that takes the longest to deal with.

So, in the meantime, here's SoberMummy's Party Survival Guide:

1. Remember you do not have to go

I am, generally, big on honesty. However, in the early days of sobriety you do have to forgive yourself a few big fibs. It's obligatory.

And the great thing about the party season is that it's easy to say Oh gosh, so sorry! I've already got something on that night!

No-one will think you're a sad loser. They'll just assume you have invitations coming out of your nostrils.

And you do have something on.... an appointment with series six of Mad Men, a slice of chocolate cake as big as your head, and a hot bath with bubbles.

So what if you miss out? It's one party season in the long, happy, healthy life that you have to come.

2. You do not have to stay

Remember those days when leaving a party was a real chore?

You had to locate the host amongst the throng, find a taxi number, manage to type it into your phone while drunk, to sound sober to the receptionist so they wouldn't just hang up, and to look sober to the taxi driver so they wouldn't just bugger off etcetera...

NOT ANY MORE! You can drive!

Which means as soon as you're finding it too difficult you can just leave. Don't bother saying goodbye, as you'll just have to explain yourself. They'll all be drunk! No-one will notice, or remember. Just slip away, patting yourself on the back for a job well done.

3. Take time out

Sometimes you don't need to leave permanently; all you need is a bit of Time Out.

Go for a walk. Or just go sit in the loo for a bit (I believe you Americans call it The Bathroom, even when there's no bath in it).

4. Fake it

I think it makes it harder when you have to explain your not drinking, so why put yourself through it?

Just hang onto a glass that looks like it contains something alcoholic, and say nothing. No-one will notice, they're all drunk - except the sober ones, and they'll salute you!

(Note to self: we need a secret handshake!)

5. Deal with the envy

One of the problems with parties in the early days is that terrible urge to stab moderate drinkers in the eye with your fork (or is that just me?).

Yes, it is unfair that they can stand there quaffing away and you can't, but remember everyone has their shit to deal with. 

For a start, they may well be battling the wine witch themselves and envying you your poise and serenity. If not, there'll be something they're dealing with, because that's life.

Maybe every time their husband asks them to pass the salt they're secretly thinking F**k off, you've ruined my life!

Maybe they have a child who's doing drugs, or a parent who no longer recognises them.

Nobody gets to our age without encountering something bad. You got alcohol addiction. It's not the worst thing that can happen - you can get over it!

6. Watch the drunkards

As the evening wears on, and you start getting a little bored, then see it as a nature programme:

Here we encounter the drunkard, in their natural habitat. Watch their mating ritual. Standing too close. Spraying their mate with saliva. Swaying on their feet and laughing too loudly....

Feeling smug isn't a nice quality. Nor is quietly sneering at people. But, hell, we have to get our kicks somewhere!

6. Know your enemy

The Wine Witch pulls out the big guns at parties, so be prepared. If you know what she's going to say you can deal with it. Here is the classic:

Hey, it's a party! Just have the one. You can quit again tomorrow!

We've been through this one many times, my friends. If you could 'just have one' you wouldn't be here, would you? You'd be reading a blog on 'perfect parenting for the mother of three' or 'quilting for beginners.'

Play the tape forward: arm yourself with visual images of where that 'just one drink' has got you in the past. It's never pretty.

If necessary, re-read my post on The Obstacle Course while you're on the loo (in 'the bathroom')

7. Pardon the turkey

I was reading about the tradition (established by Reagan in 1987) of the American President giving a pardon to the Thanksgiving turkey, who then gets to live out his/her life in turkey nirvana instead of being stuffed and served with cranberry and all the trimmings.

Another issue with parties is that they can give us flashbacks of the dark drinking days. You remember all your past misdemeanours, and often encounter those who you have wronged.

Well, now it's time to forgive your inner turkey. That was then, this is now: move on.

8. Focus on the morning

If things get tough, I always focus on the morning.

Just think how brilliant you are going to feel the day after Thanksgiving, while everyone else is in bed groaning, and filled with regrets. That is your payback time. Your reward. And you'll have earned it!

Please share this post as widely as you can for all the sober revellers out there, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Love SM x


  1. Top tips for the party season! I need these as I embark on Day 2 and the end of term party season is about to kick off. Annie x

    1. Huge congrats on the new resolve, Annie. You just need to get through December, then everyone is giving up in January! It'll be a walk in the park ;-)

  2. Thankyou for providing several good belly laughs! I feel better already (although a lot of grotesque images - rocked shit, an eyeball on a fork, nostrils emanating stuff...)

  3. Completely agree I have already got out of one party even though I don't have anything on that night. I know its going to be all about who can get the most drunk also until reading this hadn't realised I also hadn't wanted to be haunted by my antics at the previous parties at this persons house!! Thanks for the insight.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving, SM! Thanks for the support and super ideas! I had surgery on Nov 4 and I am using that as an "excuse" to not drink this holiday season. It's a shame that I need an excuse, but it will help to keep the wine pushers at bay.As you said, once we make to January its downhill! This is my first Thanksgiving where the bottles of wine aren't lining the counters and taking up most of the room in the fridge. My favorite family tradition is cooking with my aunt while polishing off bottles of champagne before we even served the meal. It's a little sad. It feels like a loss. And it's sad that it feels like a loss. I am looking forward to not being hungover tomorrow and spending some of this sober time trying out some new holiday traditions. Take care!

  5. Happily offering to drive everyone everywhere this festive season. And pretending to be very happy about it!!!

  6. Oh I want to stab moderate drinkers with a fork all right. Especially those who nurse one glass of wine all night long. Oh those I hate the most. Or those who can leave a half full wine of glass and just walk away. Seriously? Are they even human?
    I declined a party invitation in order to stay home. I am really vulnerable at parties.
    I also do remind myself about mornings. Hangover free mornings vs nauseatingly painful mornings. Sometimes it does help.

    1. Right! Leaving a 1/2 full glass of wine on the table? Amazing, right?

  7. Thankyou so much for this SM, particularly "pardon the turkey" and this little gem of wisdom "Nobody gets to our age without encountering something bad. You got alcohol addiction. It's not the worst thing that can happen - you can get over it!" I really need to remember to not wallow in past regrets sometimes. Thanks again

  8. I had a really nice Thanksgiving.
    I just relaxed!
    No one was drinking much, in fact I saw one bottle of beer!

  9. I have an inner Turkey. Thanks SM, awesome post. I too want to jab smug moderate drinkers in the eye. May they rot in their fetid burrows, as a very wise woman once said to me........xxxx.

  10. Hahahahah! No one will notice- THEY'LL BE DRUNK. Hilarious. And so true, I'm pretty sure my SIL thought I was drinking champagne all day (instead of sparkling white grape juice). BTW, there is definitely a bath in my bathroom (where else would it be??). Great advice! You're one of the good ones, SM:)

  11. I have just started on my own journey and this post struck a chord with me. Wouldn't be reading your blog and Belle's and Sober Journalist if I thought I could get away with moderation. I will be leaning on you all for awhile I think but thanks for being out there - Justonemore.

  12. I went to my first big ball sober. Getting ready-brilliant fun (it was disco, I love fancy dress), did it with my friend and we sent our husbands off for a beer and catch up and we played great music and chatted and I loved it. Then we got there. Party meh. I felt flat and weird. I had a glass of lemon lime bitters in a champagne glass, water in a wine glass...bad idea! Waiter filled it up with wine and I took s mouthful before I realised and spat it back in the glass. It was just one of those nights I could not get in the groove. It’s helped me so much to get up this morning and read your blog and remind myself it will get better. I’m day 71. That field of bunnies is out there, I just know it and come he’ll or highwater I’m getting there and making it my own, one slightly crappy night out at a time.
    This is a very long winded way of saying thank you. Without you I suspect I would have given up. You’ve made me feel so much less along. Thank you. Emma x