Around the holidays, people tend to raise a glass to celebrate the season. But in the United States, 15.1 million Americans suffer from an alcohol use disorder. With these numbers, it may be possible that you, a friend, or a family member may be in recovery, and holiday parties can be a tempting situation to drink alcohol.

One way to help ease the stress of relapse around the holidays is to host a holiday party at which no alcohol is served. This helps provide an environment for everyone to come together, have some fun and enjoy the holiday season. If you’re wanting to host a sober holiday party, we have put together some tips to help you create a holiday party to remember.

Inform Your Guests Ahead of Time

Inform your guests ahead of time that you are planning a sober party. You may want to include in the invite the reasoning behind your decision and if there are any rules, like please don’t bring your own beverages. However, do let them know that you will be serving delicious non-alcoholic beverages. When guests are prepared for a party without alcohol, this will leave out any confusion or questions at your party.

Keep in mind that some people, depending on where they are at in their recovery journey, may not yet be comfortable with attending parties due to personal triggers.

Have Your Party Earlier in the Day

Most parties associated with alcohol happen on the weekend, late afternoon, or in the evening. These times of day can be a trigger for many. Try having an afternoon party or brunch with a breakfast spin on holiday classics.

Change Up the Party with Themes

Here’s where you can get creative and plan a party where guests won’t even miss the alcohol. Try a beach-themed party and ask people to wear Hawaiian shirts and Santa hats. Another popular themed party is ugly holiday sweaters. Host a competition and provide a prize for the winner.

Provide Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Be careful here to not provide mocktails that resemble regular alcoholic drinks. Mocktails can ignite the brain’s reward center and incite memories of pleasure associated with both the ritual and process of drinking and the drink itself, according to a study by Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse. For some people, consuming drinks that look real is enough to eventually ignite the desire for the real thing.

With that in mind, we’ve provided non-alcoholic drink recipes you can try at your sober party. Sparkling water with fresh fruit, fresh sodas, and juices are good options as well.

apple cider drink recipe



Set up Non-alcoholic Activities to Keep the Party Going

Activities keep guests entertained and busy. You don’t want any guests lonely or bored when they are craving a drink. Set up several board game or card stations around the room. You can also get the whole group of guests together and play a game of charades or Pictionary.

Here are more fun holiday party activities:

  • Holiday-themed photo booth
  • Christmas movie trivia
  • Guess how many – You can fill any jar with candies and have guests guess how many are in it.
  • Holiday song bingo – Layout bingo grids and have guests fill out holiday songs as they’re played.

Provide Plenty of Finger Foods

Finger foods keep your guests busy and allow them to graze throughout the night. Think of foods that will keep guests coming back for more, like bite-sized appetizers such as savory meatballs or shrimp. Vegetable trays, charcuterie boards, and chips and dip make great finger foods as well.

Although you may be planning a sober holiday party for your friends and family, there may be situations in the future where they will encounter parties with alcohol. Here are some tips to help them avoid the temptation of alcohol over the holidays.

The holiday season should be a joyous time for everyone. Hopefully, by using some of these party planning tips, your guests will remember the memories they made, not that you didn’t have alcohol.

If you would like more information about our alcohol rehab program, contact one of our admissions counselors.