When I first considered giving up drinking, one of my biggest concerns was that sobriety would water down my social life. I didn’t want to be that wet blanket at a party, floating awkwardly around the room like a ghost of hangovers past: “Beware Ebenezer … that spiked eggnog is really going to come back and haunt you!“
I also wondered how I was going to swallow the anxiety stew of a socializing without being able to chase it with a little liquid confidence. But what I quickly learned was that forgoing alcohol at a party not only became easier over time, it also reminded me why I was actually there. Here are five easy steps to continue partying like a rock star while also turning down your alcohol by volume.
STEP 1: Forget about what other people think.
The moment you walk into a party, eliminate the concern that anyone gives a squat about what you’re drinking. Unless you’re waving around a five-dollar milk shake and smacking your lips, saying mmm after each sip, the drink in your hand might as well be a urine sample: No one is going to ask you for a taste. If you need a good decoy, remember that Coke in a wine glass looks like cab, seltzer with a splash of cranberry juice is rosé, and anything in a rocks glass could be a cocktail. But again, forget worrying that the contents of your cup are somehow going to out you as a party pooper.
STEP 2: Own your party sobriety.
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Two of the hardest partiers to ever walk the earth, buddies of mine from college who went by the names “Kool-Aid” and “Butts,” both gave up drinking a number of years ago and yet still manage to be the life of every party. So when I hauled myself onto the wagon, I turned to them for advice. “You have to own it,” they both agreed. Beyond all the sneaky tactics, nothing is more empowering than just being open with your sobriety and maybe having a good joke to disarm people’s questions. “When people ask why I’m not drinking, I tell them I’m allergic,” Butts told me. “Whenever I drink, I break out into handcuffs.”
STEP 3: Bring your own beverages.
Don’t get stuck drinking tap water or some dusty artifact from the depths of your host’s fridge. Along with a bottle of wine to give as a gift, bring your own fakies. Motto, Spindrift or any number of nonalcoholic beers will do the trick. Some turn to energy drinks as N/A options, but be careful not to latch onto something especially sugary, otherwise you’ll be waking up with the very hangover you were trying to avoid. And if you’re really going to own it, come equipped with your own makings for a top-notch mocktail. Nothing says “I’m here to party” quite like walking in with your own cocktail shaker.
STEP 4: Be productive, not destructive.
There’s no better scenario to flex your sober muscles than at the annual company party. Countless careers have been lost during that two-hour hall pass during which co-workers tie one on. So while your fellow co-workers are crossbreeding the chicken with the Macarena, take advantage of that night out with your boss to earn some brownie points. Because company parties are like weddings: Who really wants to be there anyway?
STEP 5: Embrace the food.
Those pigs in blankets and other party snacks taste even better when they’re the focus of your attention instead of the drinks. Plus, people tend to congregate around the food so you won’t lose out on any of the action.
STEP 6: Focus on the conversation, not the FOMO
We all have it to some degree or another: that little voice inside of heads that worries we’re missing out on something. This fear can become particularly pronounced as you watch your friends getting looser and laughing louder with each drink. But don’t indulge in the fear of missing out. Instead, focus on the reason why you’re there: not to indulge in drinks, but the rare privilege of making a true connection with others.
See, my ultimate takeaway from my temperate period was that I learned to enjoy my company more. Conversation became sport. My true friendships rose to the surface, and I was able to see more clearly which actually held value and which were being held tenuously together by Jose Cuervo, Johnnie Walker, and the other cast of characters that were no longer part of my crew.
Robert Cocuzzo is author of Tracking the Wild Coomba: The Life of Legendary Skier Doug Coombs.
From: Town & Country US
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