Ah. 'Tis the season for infamous office holiday parties! If you're striving to cut back on drinking, or quit entirely, work social events come with a unique set of pressures and challenges (hence we recommend employers offer at least some non-drinking events). But take it from us, sober socializing doesn't have to be a drag! A little planning makes it a ton more comfortable, and trust us, you'll be happy about your decision the day after. After all, how often have you thought "I really wish I drank more in front of my boss and coworkers last night!". There's no better time to reap the benefits of socializing sober style. Here are our secrets for doing so smoothly:
Rally Your Support Network
Will there be anyone at your office party who you trust will be supportive of your goals? Have conversations with them beforehand about it. It can also help to know which of your friends and family members outside of work will be available to text or call during the event in case you need someone to reach out to.
Volunteer to Help Out
Do some research before your work party to find out if there is room to be of service somehow, like being a designated driver, helping with set up, or playing photographer. Having a task at hand keeps you busy and feeling involved, minus the booze.
When drinking is the norm at an event, some of us find it awkward or anxiety-inducing to stand around empty handed. Plus it's a natural invitation for others to benignly offer us drinks or (not as benignly) turn on the pressure or start the interrogation. Fortunately it's usually easy to evade all that hassle by simply carrying around a non-alcoholic drink.
If your office party is BYOB make sure your latter B is something delicious, like hot chocolate. In the case of a bar, head straight to the counter to get something that resembles a drink, like a soda. We've even heard success stories where people tip the bartender upfront to give them nonalcoholic versions of what they ask for all night!
Remember, the goal here is not to misrepresent yourself in the long run. Instead, think of it this way; you're changing one thing at a time. The cup can stay for now, if the alcohol content is what you want to change.
Sure, in a perfect world we'd all feel comfortable either exercising our right to remain silent or sharing our deepest reasons for moderating or abstaining from alcohol. In the real world, it might not be so good an idea to explain to your new boss that the last time you drank in the workplace you ended up swimming in a lobby fountain. So, whatever your reasons for wanting to curb the booze, we officially grant you your license to fib about them! Some people find it massively helpful to have a made-up excuse up their sleeve to cope with drink-pushers (e.g., "I'm hungover from last night.","I'm on medication that doesn't mix with alcohol").
Find the Food and Fun
When you get to the party, take a minute to scope it out for any opportunities where the focus isn't on drinking, like food service, games, or dancing. Those are your go-zones. Head there and hang out there.
Seriously, nothing like being the only sober person in the office party to motivate you to stick to your goals! Seeing mayhem, mistakes, oversharing, and maybe figments of your previous self all around you can be a huge reminder of why you’re staying on track! Plus, your wellbeing is a 365 day a year priority, and needn't take a back seat during the holidays.