Sobermass and New Cheers (Reposted 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. jenn777 7 years ago

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

    Thank you for this reminder! This is very true. It’s important people know that you’re not drinking so they don’t constantly offer it to you but I don’t have to justify why I don’t drink. It’s my story and I don’t have to share it. I find when I am short and sweet about it no one usually will ask further questions.

  2. Sobriusmaximus 8 years ago

    On Friday night I went into a pub for a friend’s farewell. The Pub formerly known as Paris, can’t remember its current name. I’m not afraid of pubs or drinking situations any more. I’m kind of everyone’s non-drinking mascot now -they’re so proud of me (I couldn’t take that away from them now, even if I wanted to…which I don’t) but the smell of the place hit me full in the face when I walked in. I haven’t had a craving for a long time so my physical reaction surprised me. Physical, mental… LONGING no other word for it…almost akin to desire…Gawd, perhaps I should get that looked at! But it calmed down, I calmed down and 6 soda and lemons later…we (they) rolled out of there at 1am. No wowser am I! We went on the lookout for coffee and cake…now that’s where I shine!…ha!

  3. tracey1966 8 years ago

    Good, helpful tips, thank you

  4. _jjw_ 8 years ago

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments!

  5. Jasminasper 8 years ago

    Great to hear all this from a guy’s viewpoint. I particularly like your points about getting plans sorted for Boxing Day & NY’s day . The scene at Christmas where you get cornered by a drinking relation who either is provoking or hassling you about not drinking booze can be incredibly annoying . So getting a method to deal is a good one ! I think this year I’m going to be blunt and say drinking doesn’t work for me and I have to be up early anyway . Thanks for your post .

  6. Kerris 8 years ago

    Live this Thankyou done great tips to take on board

  7. Pare 8 years ago

    Thank you! Great guidance about being prepared and being okay to leave events if it means keeping yourself safe. Organising fun things to do after Christmas is a nice reward for getting through what can be a stressful day. Congratulations on your sobriety!

  8. morgan 8 years ago

    Brilliant. So, so impressed 🙂 Well done.

  9. Vonnie 8 years ago

    Wow This was such a perfect read for the way I am feeling at the moment. I have been 248 days – hanging out to make 250 (not sure why but that was my next goal) and really struggling with all the stupid drinking that is going on around me. Thank you @_jjw

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