Saturday 25 November 2017

3 Top Tips for Partying Sober

The party season is upon us, folks, and it's a difficult time of year for the newly sober.

So, here is SoberMummy's guide to partying happily without the booze.

But, before we start, consider this important question: do you really have to go?

Don't shoot me down yet, I know it's crucial that going alcohol-free doesn't mess up our enjoyment of life in any way, that it brings only benefits and doesn't turn us all into norma-no-mates hermits, sitting at home feeling miserable.

Of course we should carry on going to parties, which (it so happens) are even better when you're not blurring all the edges (and then causing havoc) with booze.

However, if you're still in the early days of quitting and you really don't feel strong enough yet to cope with too much drunken revelry then do not feel guilty about taking a short sabbatical.

If you're an overly-enthusiastic drinker, then it's likely that you're a people pleaser and a party person. I'll bet you've been to way more than your share of boozy events in the past. You deserve a tiny bit of time off for good (or should that be bad?) behaviour.

So, if you're still feeling a bit raw and vulnerable, then just fake a bout of festive 'flu and hunker down with a box set and a hot chocolate. You'll be back with a bang before you know it.

But, for those of you who have a good run of sober days under the belt and are feeling upbeat and positive, ready to trip the light fandango and alcohol-free, then here we go:

1. Fake it until you make it

I have a dream that, in the not too distant future, there will come a time when we can announce that we've gone alcohol-free and the crowds will cheer, call us heroes and pat us on the back.

That time, however, is not yet here. As you'll know, currently if you tell people you've quit booze for good the response is a stunned silence, followed by a shocked and strangled "why? Do you have a problem?"

Now it may be that you're happy discussing the myriad reasons why you've decided to ditch the regular drinking of an addictive poison with a bunch of tipsy acquaintances, but, even if you are, repeating this speech over and over again at a party will undoubtedly become a little boring, which is why many of us decide to fake it until we make it.

This strategy involves clinging onto a non-alcoholic drink that looks like booze all evening. Think virgin mojito, alcohol-free beer or (if there's a real dearth of 'soft' drinks available), plain tonic water or soda.

If you're rumbled, then (despite what I tell my children) lying is perfectly acceptable. Tell them you're driving, you're on antibiotics or you have an important work presentation tomorrow.

When you're ready, a few weeks or months down the line, you can out yourself to friends and family in your own way, in your own time. Don't feel bullied into doing it at a party.

2. Play it forward

This is an extremely helpful AA mantra.

There will inevitably be a time (probably many) during the party when you start thinking maybe I should just have the one. One drink can't hurt. It'll help take the edge off a bit and make me relax...

At this point it's important to play the film forward. Because you know how the next few scenes go - you've been there hundreds of times before:

You don't have just one. You have several. You end up doing something you didn't mean to do, or saying something you didn't mean to say. You go home and, possibly, write something you didn't mean to write on social media, or buy something you didn't mean to buy on eBay, then you wake up in the middle of the night hating yourself and spend the next day feeling like death.


Even if you have iron clad willpower and stick to just that one drink, you'll only make it harder for yourself next time. At the next party you'll think I managed it last time, I can do it again. Before you know it, you'll be back to drinking a bottle of wine a day.

If you were good at moderation, you wouldn't be reading this. You're most likely an all-or-nothing person, and that's a great way to be, so long as (in this case), you stick with 'nothing.'

Here's another great AA mantra: drinking today is just borrowing tomorrow's happiness. Focus on tomorrow. You know that, if you stay sober, tomorrow is going to feel amazing.

3. Be kind to yourself

In the early days, take baby steps. Just turning up to the party for an hour or two is fantastic, you do not have to be the last to leave.

If you're finding it tough, take time out. Go for a walk. Go sit on the loo and check in on your sober Facebook group (join Club Soda, if you haven't already) or your favourite blogs. Find a good friend and have a quiet, life-affirming catch up in the corner.

Once you've had enough, just go. No need for long goodbyes or thank you's - everyone else will be drunk, they won't notice you sneaking out.

No need to wait for a mini-cab - you're SOBER, you can DRIVE.

You won't need to play it this cautiously for long. Before you know it you'll be back to being the life and soul of the party.

And partying sober is way better than partying drunk. You get to have proper discussions with people you haven't seen for ages. Discussions you remember. 

You get to make new connections, to have life-affirming conversations with new and fascinating people that make the other person feel valued and you value yourself.

You'll look much better, behave much better and feel proud of yourself. You'll be able to get out of your head on the atmosphere, the music and the dancing, but wake up the next day feeling brilliant.

You'll start looking at the drunk people in the room, thinking (not in a mean way) why did I ever do that to myself?

One warning though: without the anaesthesia of booze, dancing in high heels really hurts your feet. Take them off!

If you'd like to read about all the ups and downs of my first year sober, you can pre-order my book - the Sober Diaries - which is out in ONE MONTH. Click here to go to my Amazon page.

For regular inspiration and information (plus a few good laughs) go to my SoberMummy Facebook page. Click here to visit and 'like' to stay updated

Happy sober festivities to you all!

SM x


  1. Thanks for this post Clare. I have two Christmas parties coming up... My husband's work do will be a breeze (no-one really knows me, so being sober doesn't bother me), but my work party will be a bit more difficult. There is going to be a vacancy for a new Work Party Animal. The party is something I have to go to and I'm a little worried about the pressure to 'just have one'. I will use your tips of playing it forward and faking it.

  2. All really good advice, especially just giving yourself a break and time out. Just go for a couple of hours, then driving home to a hot choc and pj’s is heaven!! Once everyone’s had a few drinks with they don’t notice you leaving anyway! We have put the tree up today (normally wait til 1st Dec but we have a busy weekend next weekend) so Christmas has landed in our house!!!! Love it!!! Xxxx

  3. Well thanks for this! I have a wedding to go to this saturday. Not looking forward to it at all. It’s my aunt’s second wedding, the first time she forgot to invite me (seriously! My parents divorced a while before that and she just forgot about me). I am only going because I like seeing my dad and his wife and some of my cousins. But mainly I am dreading this event. Weddings like this are only fun when you are drunk. But I will stick to my plan: drink alcohol free beer, sit next to the one aunt that I do like a lot (and who doesn’t drink) and drive myself and my husband safely to our hotel at the end of the evening. Oh and by the way, I just ordered your book! Won’t be available in Holland until halfway through January so I have something to look forward to! A few more days and I am without alcohol for 3 months, am actually pretty proud of that, so I figured I deserve this gift to myself! Thanks for this blog Clare, and have a wonderful day.

    1. Hi Wendy! Good luck on Saturday! We will all be thinking of you! My youngest has a birthday sleepover on Saturday, so I’ll have eight nine year-olds in the house! That’s a whole different kind of challenge 😬 Anyhow, mail me if things get tough! Huge thanks for ordering the book! Sorry you have to wait a bit longer! Huge hugs ❤️❤️❤️

    2. Good luck to you too with the party tonight! Thanks for your kind words.

  4. Thank-you SM for “do you really have to go?” I have recently had an invitation which I feel duty-bound to accept even though I know I will be faking the party face until it is a respectable time to leave (when others are too tipsy to notice). Epiphany moment! I can say no, it is ok to say no. A simple “what a shame, I can’t manage that evening” is sufficient. I can have a bath, put on the jammies, have a mug of Ovaltine and read. Result! ❤️

  5. Back from the wedding. I survived, better yet I was fine. Drank loads of alcohol free beer, danced, talked, laughed. And drove us to the hotel without being worried I had too much to drink. This was awesome!

    1. Yeah!!!! You did it!! That’s fab news! And it is the best feeling, plus you’ve got the memories of a fab time! Go you stokkie!!xxxxxxxxx

    2. Whoop whoop! Well done you! You have your Sober wings now and nothing can stop you ❤️❤️❤️

  6. Best thing ever: no hangover!!!! Thanks for the support you lovely people. ❤️