Thursday 21 December 2017

Is This Your First Sober Christmas?

If you're rapidly approaching your first sober Christmas Day, you are probably starting to panic.

Don't! This is going to be my fourth Christmas without any booze, and I promise you that, not only is it manageable, it's actually WAY better.

Here are my top 5 tips for making this the best Christmas ever:

1. Be honest about Christmas Past...

It's really easy to romanticise the ideal of past Christmases (and all of those Instagram-worthy memories in your head have you clutching a glass of booze, right?)

That's what I did, anyway. I remembered the glass of chilled white wine while packing the children's stockings, sharing Santa's whiskey with the husband before bed, pouring the first glass of champagne while dancing around the kitchen at 11am and peeling sprouts, then the full-bodied red wine to accompany the turkey.


Because those moments did exist, but they were fleeting and transitory. They were engulfed by a tidal wave of other, not so good, drinking realities.

Here's how it really went: I didn't stop at one glass while doing the stockings - I drank the whole bottle, and inevitably mixed up the presents. Then, having necked Santa's whiskey, I slept terribly, waking up at 3am, tossing and turning, so that by the time the kids piled in with their wide eyes and bulging stockings I was exhausted and grumpy.

And that glass of champagne while doing the cooking? Well, as you know, cooking Christmas lunch is a military operation requiring a clear head and perfect timing. So, once I'd drunk a glass, or so, of champagne it would all start going haywire and I'd get incredibly stressed.

The wine with lunch would go un until early evening, fanning those simmering embers of long-held family grudges into flames, so there would, invariably, be a drink-fuelled family argument of some sort before the end of the day that would take a month or so to diffuse.

Plus, it would inevitably all be about me, rather than the children.

I'd pass out, wrung out and exhausted, at the end of the day and wake up on Boxing Day filled with regret.

Perhaps your Christmases weren't quite like that, but I bet if you examine them closely you'll find that the booze didn't really make for a perfect day after all....

2. Keep it Simple

I know we all want Christmas to be perfect, and to keep up with all those idealised pictures we keep seeing on our Facebook feeds and TV screens. We put huge pressure on ourselves by trying to make the house look like the ones in the magazines, filled with the smell of freshly baked mince pies and the sound of laughing children.

But, really, all anyone ever wants is a day spent with the people they love, who are properly present, happy and relaxed, a few well chosen presents, some food and some rubbish telly.

Go through your to-do list and cross off anything that isn't absolutely necessary. If you have guests coming, get them to bring stuff - they'll be thrilled to be able to help.

Buy the sprouts ready peeled and the mince pies ready made. Next year you can add all the extras back in, but - just for once - make life easy for yourself.

3. Treat Yourself

It's your day too, and there are other ways to treat yourself that aren't bubbly and alcoholic. Think about what'll make you feel really good on Christmas Day.

Buy your favourite alcohol free wine, or the ingredients for a fabulous mocktail. Buy some aromatherapy oil for a relaxing Christmas Eve bath. Download some new tunes to sing to while making the lunch. I find that a bumper box of After Eights works a treat. Find whatever works for you.

4. Take Time Out

However much fun you're having, the effort of remembering not to drink can be pretty exhausting... have an escape hatch planned, for times during the day when you just have to get away from Aunt Edna or else you'll sink the whole bottle of Baileys from the back of the drinks cupboard...

My personal favourite is a dog walk. If the going gets tough, I put my coat on, announce to the crowds that I just have to take the poor dog out, then escape for some fresh air and a chance to wind down. (Once I was so desperate to get away for a while that I actually forgot the dog).

If you don't have a dog, make sure you have something else up your sleeve for emergencies.

Perhaps you need to find a garage to buy an emergency pint of milk? Maybe you need to drop a Christmas card round to a neighbour? Or just tell everyone you're going for a quick afternoon nap, and escape to your bedroom where you can surf the sober sites for some solidarity.

5. Learn From the Children

They don't have to be your children, any children will do. Look at all the things they find magical about Christmas Day that don't involve getting drunk.

The really hard events to cope with when sober are the ones that only involve booze - like drinks parties. It can be pretty boring spending hours at an event which totally revolves around drinking when you don't.

But Christmas Day is not like that. It is filled with loads of things to do, other than drink. There's all the present opening, the family games, the great food, the guilt-free chocolate bingeing, the Christmas telly and catching up with friends and family.

IT'S AWESOME! And none of that needs booze to make it fun - the kids know that.

So please don't worry, my friends. It's going to be amazing! And once you've done it the first time, it'll never be scary again.

Merry Christmas to you all!

And, by the way, if you fancy treating yourself to a late Christmas present, you can order my book, The Sober Diaries here, in hardback, Kindle or audio.

And my new novel, The Authenticity Project, is out soon! Available on Kindle and Audio in the UK from February 4th (click here to pre-order), and in hardback in all good bookshops from April 2nd.

If you're in the USA, all formats available from Feb 4th! (Click here to pre-order).

If you're looking for distraction over Christmas, there's loads of information and inspiration on the SoberMummy Facebook page ('like' page to stay updated).

Love SM x


  1. So true, I'm looking forward to my first sober Christmas and to enjoying Christmas Eve without drinking too much wine and waking up on the big day with that horrible 'wine mouth'.

    Once I get past the refusal (and associated explanation of said refusal) of the almost-compulsory bucks fizz at the inlaws' I think I'll be ok - have stocked the fridge with non-alc fizzy 'wine' as a substitute.
    Have a lovely Christmas and very best wishes for the book launch! xxx

    1. Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you, Minnie!

  2. Love it! My first sober Christmas too-thanks for the ideas. Good luck with your book-I almost caved last night but held on!!!49 days for me today!!!

    1. Well done Daisy! Keep on going! By the time you get to New Year you'll be well on your way to 100 days, and it'll be easy as EVERYONE is going sober this January - it's the new thing :-)

  3. Fantastic post, SM. Thank you!
    Well done Daisy! You should be proud of yourself.

    1. Merry Christmas to you, Dancing Leopard! Keep on dancing!

  4. Just entering into my second sober Christmas ... With wonderful memories of last year and no dreads :-))) Thank you SM for the great advice and encouragement throughout the year .. It helps on many levels and I am sure many of us....
    Merry Merry Christmas SM and All ....

    1. Huge congrats, Jacs, and Merry Christmas! Check out the fab quote from today's paper about Christmas sober by JEREMY CLARKSON, of all people! xxx

  5. This is my second xmas sober and it's not a problem. Lovely to be present and not fall asleep during the evening. Had a lovely family meal out last nice and I just drank fizzy water. Food and company was fab and enjoyed it far more than if I had been drunk (would have had a few before going out in the old days). Also drove of course which is always a bonus. Good luck with the book launch SM. Shall pre-order for my kindle, perfect xmas reading!

    1. Merry Christmas Sharon! Hope you enjoy the book - do let me know what you think xxx

  6. Brilliant advice! This is my 2nd sober Christmas and it feels even better than last time, Becasue I know I can do it. For a long long time Christmas was about drinking to excess for me, through the whole of December! But with no alcohol you really feel the excitement, the magic of Christmas especially with children in the house. And most importantly you remember ALL of it, and with them growing up so fast I need to remember these magical times xxxx sending lots of hugs to everyone xxxxxxxxxx and if it’s your first Christmas, you can do this!!! Xxx

    1. Yay! You can comment again! Welcome back, and merry, merry Christmas, lovely Ang75! xxx

  7. And of course the calories not consumed as alcohol can be taken as extra food! Bonus! Christmas holidays now are cooked breakfasts, long dog walks filled with laughter and chat, cramming the log burner with the remnants of last years dead fruit trees (early effort at “vigorous” pruning) and eating, lots of it. Far fewer parties and friends invited for tea and mince pies. The good thing about lots of candlelight is nobody sees the dust.

    A very happy Christmas to you, wonderful Sober Mummy xx

    1. And to you, wonderful Laura! It's our third Xmas since we 'met'! xxx

  8. Happy Xmas Sober Mummy, Hmmm a hardback version in the UK? - I'd prefer that over the TBD released US version. And how to get it autographed? Let us know your book signing tour dates in the UK (and US if you get here- and I think you'd be great on the talk show circuit). Eeyore

    1. Eeyore - I think I'm going to have to mail you a signed copy to the USA personally! You have been such a great support. Merry Christmas to you!

  9. Congratulations on your book...and awesome list and account of what Christmas was like with the booze and can be like without it!! Merry Christmas to you!

    1. And to you, lovely Cleo! Have a great day xxx