I know my first holiday season sober was difficult, but these days it’s something most of my friends know about me and they’ve all been gracious hosts around holiday parties to make me feel inclusive.
This post is really more for folks who are hosting parties this season and may not be sober, but want to be more sober inclusive in the way they host.
First things first–there are a MILLION reasons someone who is attending your party this holiday season may not be drinking.
They may be the designated driver.
Or getting up early.
Or maybe they’re sick.
Or pregnant and don’t want to tell people.
Or just taking a night of drinking.
Or their ex is at this party and they are trying really hard not to tell them to fuck off and alcohol would make it way worse…
Basically, there are MANY reasons people may not be drinking.
Here are a few tips to all you lovely, kind, sober-inclusive Holiday Party Hosts out there in no particular order:
1. Have good options
No, not like afterthought tap water options. Like REAL options! They don’t have to cost a ton, and they don’t have to be super fancy. But a beautiful pot of hot tea, nice selection of sparking water or juices, or even a non-alcoholic beer goes a LONG way for your non-drinkers.
2. Offer the alcohol-free option to ALL your guests
You don’t actually know who is not drinking tonight. By offering the N/A option to everyone, it takes the burden of having to ask off of your guests. When they enter ask, “Hey, can you get you something to drink? We’ve got beer, wine, a nice cranberry seltzer spritzer, hazelnut coffee…” See how simple that was? When you offer just a beer or wine it feels…not great…for your guest to have to say, “Ummm…do you have a soda or something?” if they’re not drinking.
3. If your guest chooses the N/A option don’t say “Are you ok?” or “What’s Wrong?!”
Both of these questions generally come from a good place. You’re their friend and you haven’t spoken in awhile and you care about them. You want to hear how they’re doing. But this question often has the opposite affect and can increase the stigma and anxiety many of us have had around not drinking at social events.
4. Using a specialty glass for the evenings cocktails? Offer that option for the non-alcoholic options as well.
Nothing feels crappier than holding a water bottle or soda can alongside the other party guests with beautiful glasses with garnish. Everyone drinking out of red solo cups for the night? Offer the N/A option in one too. Some sober folks and non drinkers don’t care if people know that they’re not drinking, but that’s not the case for everyone. Offering to put it in the same glassware as the rest of the group can be a huge breathe of relief if the person isn’t in the mood to talk about why they’re not drinking that evening.
To all you inclusive holiday party hosts out there–THANK YOU!
It means so much to those of us who are struggling to have you as our allies.
Thanks for reading and happy sober holidays my friends!