Drinking is not compulsory, and if you’ve decided that alcohol isn’t for you this Christmas, that’s okay. Here are a few of our top tips on saying no to a drink to get you through, whether you are moderating or going alcohol-free.
Our top tips and tricks
1 Make an excuse
As much as honesty is the best policy, sometimes it’s just not. You might encounter someone this Christmas (a colleague, an acquaintance, a family member) who simply refuses to get it. Try as you may, they will not accept that you’ve decided to change your drinking, and that it’s the right choice for you.
If you find yourself in this situation, and just saying no feels too difficult, then feel free to not tell them anything. You can pretend that nothing has changed, use our rebel non-drinking tricks to fly under the radar, and avoid the extra stress.
It comes in useful to have a few excuses pre-prepared, such as:
‘I can’t I’m driving.’
‘I’ve got to get up early to (go to the gym, Christmas shopping, take my kids somewhere, walk the dog)’
‘I’m still hungover from last night.’
‘I’m on antibiotics (or some other medicine you can’t mix with alcohol).’
‘I have a delivery arriving from Tesco at 8.’ (A good technique to resist staying out late)
‘I am on a health kick’
2 Take your own
In most circumstances you can take your own. Stash a small bottle of your favourite cordial in your bag and you can smash through pint after pint of your own pimped fizzy water. When you’re toasting the festive season, in a champagne glass it will look no different to the real thing.
3 Get yours in first
The thing is that if someone is offering you a drink it’s because they want to include you in the group. It’s a social thing, turning them down flat can sometimes look ungrateful or stand-offish. Sometimes it’s a good idea to accept the offer but request a soft drink. If they question your order repeat calmly what you want and remember to smile. Most people are polite enough to accept this and move on.
If you have any Christmas do’s in pubs and bars this year, get there early or late, and get your own drink in. That way you avoid rounds, and you will have time to to co-opt the bar staff to give you something that looks the part. They are always happy to make sure you get your ‘usual’ without a song and dance. It’s great if you have a habit of arriving early for events anyway, or have chronically late friends. This also works for house parties and other events. Just grab a cup of anything and people will assume you are drinking with no explanations necessary. Once everyone else has finished their second drink you will feel happy you did not cave in!
Alternatively, you might want to chat to your Christmas party organiser about what they will have on offer and, if you think their offer for non-drinkers or those looking to mix and match is lacking, make a special request. You won’t be the only one grateful for something more interesting – check out some fab non-alcoholic Christmas drinks ideas.
4 Have an escape plan
Always have a good excuse to get you out before it gets messy. Whether it’s beating the Uber price surge, or food delivery you may or may not have arranged for 9pm, think of ways that could allow you to easily extract yourself from difficult situations.
If you feel like you are being constantly pushed to drink, remember to not hang out with this group for a bit. Leave now if you’re not having fun. No one should feel they have to stay somewhere where they aren’t having a good time. I get to a party early and leave early because ‘that’s when all the best conversations are had!’
5 Make a joke of it
‘I’m allergic to alcohol, it makes me break out in handcuffs.’
‘Thanks but I finally decided to give everyone else a chance!’
‘I own stock in Heineken – I’ll be cutting my profit margin.’
‘I am making a career change and becoming a supermodel.’
6 Tell them what you’re doing and why
The first thing to remember is that nobody is a mind-reader. You have decided to make a change, but unless you tell the people around you, they will not know. So tell them. And ask for support, it really can work wonders. Your real friends will rally behind you.
And remember that you are enlisting them as a key part of your challenge. So help them as well, be as specific about what will help – there’s no need to share every detail but you need to say enough so that they can do their best to help you. You may for example ask not to meet them in the pub, at least for a little while, until you get a bit more confident in your new drinking habits. Or you might ask them to remind you about your goals if you’re struggling.
7 And if things get difficult…
We’ll all have to deal with difficult situations and people this Christmas. Friends come in many guises; some may not understand why you want to change, some may even actively try to sabotage you. Either way, you can try to get them on your side.
In extreme situations not telling people, or even telling white lies isn’t enough. A friend may simply cause more trouble for you than they’re worth. For example someone who keeps pushing drinks on you, even after repeatedly being told you don’t want them. Or someone who won’t stop commenting on your choices in a negative way.
The final choice is of course yours, but you should seriously consider avoiding such people if you can. Christmas is a great time to meet new people within your company or amongst your clients. Set yourself a challenge to get to know some new people better. Friendships and good connections will last well into the new year – curiosity is always better than alcohol for getting a conversation going.