Sobermas and New Cheers (Guest Post)

Some more  Christmas and New Years inspiration for you – this post comes from @_jjw_, a smart and lovely kiwi dude, and brave sober warrior.


@_jjw_:This is my fourth sober Christmas. While many of us people who gave up drinking wait until after Christmas and New Years to put down the bottle, I launched my sobriety a little bit earlier in December. It was a bit of a weird time. I hadn’t told my parentals why I wasn’t drinking, just that I was off the booze. While perplexed they were supportive. More on that first Sobermas in a second.

Christmas and New Years are intimidating times for the person who has sworn off alcohol. There is so much ‘festive cheer’ being knocked back and stressful situations abound: family, friends, money worries, other social pressures… the list goes on. But I’ll let you into a little secret: you don’t actually have to drink. Santa Claus will still come if you don’t leave the beers out for him. The chook will still get cooked without the glass of sav in your hand, and Boxing Day can be memorable rather than miserable.

So there I was. First Christmas sober. At my parents. Away from my pals and girlfriend of the time. It was a decent day for New Plymouth. People were drinking bubbly and beer in the sun. I was on the Ginger Beer and Dr Pepper (one of my vices). At first it didn’t seem right. But then my mind flashed back to a previous Christmas where I had drunk too much and it didn’t end well [grizzly details omitted for your reading pleasure]. Ah. Well, better to be sober than causing a scene, right? Right.

I white knuckled it through the first one. I disappeared for a while to be alone and get out of the humdrum. The second was easier. I had explained why I wasn’t drinking, made sure there were better drinks, and everyone rolled with it. A glass of elderflower cordial is so much better than sickly bubbles anyway.

New Years is different. Instead of being family oriented, it is – at least for people in their 20s – a pretty decent excuse to get on the turps generally just for the sake of getting on the turps.

Because of this, adjusting to New Years for me really meant going out of my way to figure out a new way of doing things, a new cheers!

The first New Years I spent in Rotorua with my then girlfriend. We made activities and played games and watched the fireworks from the back yard. Really low key. I’m not even sure we stayed up that late. There was definitely no drinking anything other than perhaps L&P.

Last year we went to Whangamatta. Yeah. The hot spot for teenage binge drinking. But it was actually pretty awesome. I went there with my now fiancee, and we stayed with a close friend of ours. Midnight was spent lying on the beach star gazing while wrapped in a blanket.

This was a complete switcheroo for a guy who one NYE spewing on the dance floor of a bar in Wellington well before midnight.

So while it can be done, it’s not easy. What worked for me was planning and preparing a little bit for the coming days. I braced myself for a huge impact, but it turned out to only be a knee high wave that hit.

Here are some Sobermass and New Cheers tips:

– Make sure people know that you’re not drinking, but don’t go over the top to make a point of it.

– Ensure there are delicious non-alcohol beverages of your choice available.

– If you do start to get stressed out by that creepy relation: remember drinking is only going to make things worse. Dealing with family issues is easier with a sober mind, even if they have been drinking.

– If you don’t feel like you can stick around then it’s okay to leave or hide away somewhere. Hopefully it will be sunny and you can go for a walk around the block, if not, hop in the car and listen to some angry music. Get it out and come back.

– Pick where you’re going to be on New Years Eve, don’t hang around in a bar.

– Plan to do something awesome on Boxing Day and New Years day so that there is an incentive to wake up without a hangover.


  1. JJW 9 years ago

    Hey @Unwinedgal, sorry for late reply. Just got back from holiday. Thanks for the comment and good work on putting down the bottle.

    I just did a quick google about Elderflower cordial in the states and it looks like you can get it in some places. Happy hunting for it!

  2. Unwinedgal 9 years ago

    Thanks so much for this post! I love the mock tail ideas. Do you think I can get elderflower cordial in the states? I would love to try it! Fresca and grape cranberry sounds great too… maybe I will make it my special treat on New Years Eve in a festive Cosmo glass 🙂
    First day without Chardonnay was 12/13/14. Thought it had a nice ring to it. I went 51/2 months but caved at a nice restaurant with a sunset view. Learned one trigger of mine is a nicerestaurant, so I am staying away. I was back to almost finishing a bottle a night in 2 months. So here I am, 16 days and counting! I didn’t reach out to anyone either last time, so this is my first comment to the sober community!
    Congrats on 3 sober Christmases JJW! You are an inspiration.

  3. daintylaney 9 years ago

    Thanks for the encouragement and ideas. On Day 3 here and right before the holidays…been a bit tough tonight cooking my first holiday dinner without wine. Hubby wanted to know why I seemed a little edgy….um, duh. It’s nice to join a community who gets it. Dreading the holidays tomorrow and New Years when it will be difficult to substitute new traditions so quickly. I’ll come back to your post often. This is the third time I have today, so I thought I should at least send out a thank you!

    • daintylaney 9 years ago

      Thanks @freebreezi – feeling proud and anxious all at the same time on Day 5. It’s 5 p.m. here – just in time for my wine craving. Made it through Christmas without a drink or subsequent hangover – small victories, eh? Still trying to manage getting through that 4-7 PM window and sucking back IZZE drinks like it’s my job! It helps a bit though – the glass feels like a beer bottle, and the citrusy ones help curb that white wine craving. I’m pretty proud of us all – never thought this would happen!

    • freebreezi 9 years ago

      hey daintylaney, hope everything is going well for you and you can stand proud being on day 5 now. You have made an awesome choice for yourself here going sober, the benefits as you journey along are amazing.
      Hope all is going well for your holiday season

    • Prozac 9 years ago

      Hi I’m on day 4 so I’m with you all the way. My daughter is cooking Xmas dinner and I’m knocking back the sparkling water with lime juice…. In a wine glass of course. I’ve had a few lurches in my stomach , just now my husband opened a bottle of red wine and the aroma just about sent me into a spin. I’m eating way too much chocolate but really looking forward to Boxing Day without a headache so that I can enjoy the beach. Keep at it , you are not alone

    • gabbygirl14 9 years ago

      @daintylaney great job on Day 3!!!! Do you have a fabulous (non-alcoholic) substitute drink? I don’t know where you live but I am in Virginia and I drink Fresca with a splash of Grape Cranberry juice. It is delicious and a GREAT substitution. It may sound silly but it really does work!!!! Keep logging in because I am going to stay logged on all day (in between running out for stocking stuffers and walking dogs) so I will keep checking on you! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!

    • JJW 9 years ago

      @daintylaney Three days is awesome! Keep it up. As I said, the dinner will get cooked, (probably better), without a drink in your hand. When you first stop drinking some people don’t get how hard it is. That’s okay, you don’t need to try and explain it to them. Just accept they’re not going to get it straight up and be patient.

      Don’t dread the next couple of days. It will be challenging, but also fun and filled with good times. There’s not much you have to substitute when you think about it (unless your tradition was getting off your face, in which case it’s probably a good tradition to ditch). What really changes without alcohol? You can still open presents. You can still talk to your family. You can still eat all the good food. You can still toast with soda! I can’t think of anything that you’d do that relies solely on booze!

      It’s good to hear that you’re gaining strength from my words. I’m cheering you on!

  4. QuietlyDone 9 years ago

    Excellent advice for Christmas and New Years Eve/Day, thanks so much for sharing, I am in awe of all of the lovely folks beginning this journey in December, brave warriors one and all. Merry Christmas to you and your family, enjoy your Dr. Pepper, (a personal favorite here too). Blessings!

    • JJW 9 years ago

      @quietlydone thanks for the comment! I don’t know what it is about Dr Pepper, it’s just my juice. I may regret this when my teeth all fall out. I too am constantly amazed by how amazing this community Mrs D has curated is. You’re all so wonderful! Merry Christmas to you and yours too!

  5. SueK 9 years ago

    Love these wise words! It’s my third sober Christmas too. I’m heading over to the Countdown to pick up some extra cordials right now… only because the mocktails I make look so amazing that everyone else always wants one. Happy camping!

    • JJW 9 years ago

      @suek love mocktails! Congrats on your third sober Christmas! Next year we should get Mrs D to run a sober secret Santa!

  6. Tryingagain2505 9 years ago

    Ah thanks for this, really inspiring and good suggestions. I am doing my best not to be stressed, it’s only a few days & if it’s not “perfect” well so what, it will still be the best I can do at the moment. I have taken on board the idea of planning stuff to do as sometimes it can be really boring over xmas (sorry, but it can!!) so xmas eve (tomorrow for us) I am going to the Service of the Nine Lessons & Carols in the afternoon and on Boxing Day, I am DRIVING to meet some friends of a long walk with our dogs. New Year I have mother staying (& she knows I am not drinking) so doing low key dinner at home for friends so I am in my “safe-place”. this blog was brilliant (sorry to ramble but it has really gee-ed me up!)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Licensed by NZ Drug Foundation under Creative Commons 4.0 2024. Built by Bamboo Creative and powered by Flywheel.

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account