The booziest time of year is approaching, and with it the dreaded Christmas party. Not just a work get-together. Not just family drinks. THE Christmas party. That one event that you’ve had in the back of your mind for weeks, because it might be awkward, strange, or detrimental to your drinking goals. So we want to share some tips and behaviour techniques that we think will work universally for whatever dreaded alcohol-fuelled social gatherings you find yourself at this festive season. We don’t want you to be in the corner tentatively sipping an orange juice, but rather dancing sober with confidence. We’ll take you through step by step – how to survive the Christmas party.
Plan, plan, plan. It can be helpful to visualise the event step-by-step before you actually get there. Have a few pre-prepared responses to smoothly field any difficult questions (“I’m not drinking because I’m driving”, “I’ve got to be up early tomorrow”, “I’m on a health-kick” etc) and be prepared to joke your way out of any tricky situations. Don’t let this party distract you from your long term goals. Do a WOOP exercise to work out exactly what you want to get out of the event, possible pitfalls, and map your path to success.
Your arrival and the ‘first drink’ scenario is probably the situation that induces the most anxiety. We all dread the question “what are you having?”, followed by the inevitable raised eyebrows, wide eyes or even the explicit and intrusive “why aren’t you drinking?”. The best way to avoid these is by heading straight to the bar. Sort yourself out with a drink of your choice before you might be swayed or made to feel uncomfortable by awkward questions. Ask clearly what you want, get the bar staff to make it pretty for you, and there you have it – no awkward questions asked. See more of our techniques for saying ‘no’ to a drink.
You don’t need to compromise. This doesn’t mean be difficult, but inevitably now you don’t drink, your standards have increased. This means not accepting the sickly J20 the bartender gestures to when you ask about alcohol-free options, or sipping a diet coke that tastes of flat disappointment. Part of planning your party is thinking about what options will be readily available, or what you can provide for yourself.
First things first: by not providing a decent selection of alcohol-free options, the host isn’t intentionally ensuring that you have an awful time. The fact is, often the party planner might need a bit of prodding in the right direction to lovebomb all their guests and all different drinking behaviours. Whether they are a friend or a catering company, get in touch, and tell them what they can order in to make your evening more enjoyable. Chances are that other people will follow your lead and enjoy choosing from a variety of options too. Here are some fancy and festive drink ideas.
If this doesn’t work or isn’t suitable, bring your own. When the bar can’t offer you any more than a sugary soft drink, that’s not your fault, but you can make sure you have something much more special to hand. Top tip: carry a little phial of your favourite cordial so you can top up and prettify your soda water at any opportunity.
Logic is your friend here. If the situation, atmosphere or people are tempting you to drink, ask yourself: would I really have a better time if I were drinking? Will I really miss anything if I leave now? If I started drinking now, how would I feel about this decision tomorrow?
The easy answer is, you would probably be disappointed, fed up, and battling an awful hangover. However, even though you know this, threatening yourself with it at the time can make you rebel and drink anyway. The key to sticking to your goals through difficult situations is treating yourself well. This can be in the form of alcohol-free drinks and knowing you have something special in the fridge for when you get home, or planning something you enjoy with the money you’ve saved from drinking. Have a look at some of our suggestions about self-care for inspiration.
The prospect of ‘festive fallout’ can be stressful, but try not to worry – Club Soda have your back! Be vocal on the Facebook group, and we’ll support you all the way.