12 reasons why a sober Christmas is the best gift you can give yourself.
This is an updated version of the post I wrote in 2018 when I was about to have my first sober Christmas. As I write, I am getting ready for, and excited about sober Christmas number 4! I still firmly believe that a sober Christmas is the best gift you can give yourself.
Sober Christmas number one felt exciting but a bit daunting. Even though I was 9 months alcohol-free I still had strong associations with the festive period and drinking, and many of my clients are telling me the same thing. But, as I have discovered, there is so much more to Christmas than the booze.
You can still feel festive, have all the sparkle, joy and magic of Christmas it really doesn’t matter what is in your glass. But if you are still struggling with the idea of having a sober Christmas or are even contemplating waiting until January to ‘really get started’ I hope this post will help you to understand that a sober Christmas is the best gift you can give yourself and you really don’t need to wait.
12 Reasons why a sober Christmas is the best gift you can give yourself
There’s so much to enjoy
Maybe you think I’m crazy suggesting that you actually don’t drink at Christmas time, after all it’s the one time of year when you’re allowed to drink, supposed to drink and even expected to drink, right? But since when did Christmas become an excuse to get wasted?
Christmas is a crazy time, we even have to plan things in November as there’s not enough time in December to fit it all in. All of this socializing is exhausting even more so if you lurch between drunk and hungover for the whole month. But, if you do these events sober, you will have far more energy to cope with it all and, although it might be difficult at first, the more of these gatherings and events you do sober, you will feel the biggest sense of achievement and satisfaction – you will feel like you can achieve anything and you can!
Here is my Sober Christmas Survival Guide video to help you have fun, be fun, spend quality time with your family, and not feel like you are missing out on anything!
I have spoken to people who chose to go sober at this time of year on purpose because there is so much going on and they want to enjoy it all being fully present. Going to every event, coming home sober, waking up sober and maintaining your sparkle when everyone around you is losing theirs, is extremely liberating. Make the most of every minute, don’t miss out on anything and you will feel like a superhero!
You can wake up early – without a hangover!
I always wake up early on Christmas morning, in fact since I switched up my, I wake up early every morning and it feels great. The worst thing I remember though about my drinking Christmases was having to be happy and appear excited when I was hungover (or worse, still drunk) from Christmas Eve and only a few hours sleep.
Instead of needing about 5 cups of coffee and a bacon sandwich to feel even the slightest bit normal you can launch yourself straight into the moment (OK, perhaps one coffee will be required especially if you wake up before 5!) I can’t tell you how excited I am to know that I won’t go to bed drunk and anxious but will wake up without a hangover – it might seem a small thing, but for me this is huge and it is still what keeps me inspired and grateful on this journey.
It is not just about Christmas Day itself but mornings, especially in the holidays are a really precious time. I often encourage my clients to plan something extra special for the morning after an event, so they have something to look forward to, a reason not to stay too late and something so wonderful planned that spoiling it with a drink, just doesn’t come into it.
Think about your free time this festive season. What fun, indulgent, lazy, lovely things can you do in the mornings to keep you feeling alive, inspired and true to yourself?
You will remember it
Remembering the holidays for the wrong reasons or not being able to remember the little details of this special time can bring on so many feelings of shame, guilt and regret and we don’t want this at all this year. I have woken up after many Christmas days wondering what on earth we did, what presents there were, what we watched, did I have cake? Did I pass out on the sofa? Was there an argument? The sad thing is you can’t go back and have the day again, once it’s gone it’s gone and no amount of scrolling through your phone, checking messages or looking at photos will bring it back.
When you are sober you will remember the whole thing for the best reasons and make new memories that you can keep forever and ever!
You get to indulge in the special treats
I remember skimping on the Christmas treats when I was drinking and not just for me but my kids too. No crackers, the cheapo Christmas cake, no trip for hot chocolate to see the lights, no Christmas pyjamas like your cousins on Christmas Eve. We didn’t buy the candles, the fairly lights the extra special nibbles and chocolate, or the indulgent biscuits because all the money went on the booze (that was the treat for us!)
The great thing about not drinking is that you can splash out on those treats, indeed I think that you should really think about what extra special treats you would like this year. My Christmas Sobriety Planner has a section to help you plan your Christmas treats and if you are not sure what you would like then this post will help you.
You can enjoy the festive food!
Enjoying all the gorgeous festive food is a brilliant reason why a sober Christmas is the best gift you can give yourself this year, especially if like me, you skimped on food because of the booze. I suggested one year that we buy a small turkey and my husband almost fell off his chair! “It’s not about the Christmas dinner, it’s about picking at the leftovers” he told me.
In the past, I was never all that bothered about eating much once the lunch was over, perhaps I would nibble on a slice of cold stuffing but was more interested in how much booze I could get through before I had to return to normality. My, how things have changed!
When you’re not worrying about alcohol, there is so much gorgeous food to enjoy instead! I am planning a monster feast this year and am so excited to plan for all the yummy things big we will eat from breakfast, what to serve Santa (no whisky this year as he too isn’t drinking!), the Big Dinner, all the trimmings, fruit, nuts, satsumas, chocolate (obvs) cheese board and whatever else we fancy with no worry about balancing calories!
When you’re not drinking, food becomes all the more enjoyable, it even tastes better! You can savour every mouthful and not feel the slightest bit guilty.
You will be present – being present is the best present
When we drink, we slowly retreat into our own little worlds (at least I did anyway) You might be there in body, but you’re not really there. Going through the motions is not the same as being in the moment.
I have to say that one of the best things about not drinking is to just be, enjoy the moments as they happen, really appreciate them and be part of what is going on around you. Christmas is a time for family, for love, for gratitude, not selfishness or escape (although you will be forgiven for hiding during charades or Uncle Tony’s bad after dinner jokes!)
One of the things I enjoy about being sober and not just at Christmas, is actually being there, wholly, completely in mind, body and spirit and not disappearing halfway through the day. A friend told me that, a sober Christmas is a real Christmas, not one burnt at the edges. There is real joy, real togetherness, real love and I can’t wait to experience it again this year.
You will feel the magic of Christmas as children do
For us, like many parents, Christmas is all about the kids – even as they get older. In the past though, once the initial present opening is over and the drinks start flowing you start to forget about the kids and want to do your own thing, after all it’s the one day when you can, right?
Not this year though! Being a sober parent at Christmas is the best thing you can do for your kids. Parenting is hard. Parenting with alcohol is harder.
The beautiful thing about being present with your kids is you get to see the day through their eyes, share their feelings of anticipation, excitement, happiness and joy. I love the magic of Christmas Eve I want to properly join in with my kids’ excitement at bedtime waiting for Santa. I will not rush them off to bed so I can do any last minute preparations (read get more and more drunk while wrapping presents)
Children don’t need alcohol to make Christmas more special, more exciting, more magical – it already is. You can bet that this year I will be the one jumping on beds at 5am shouting, “Santa’s, been! Santa’s been!”
Do things you only ever imagined
When drinking, I lived in my head quite a bit, the more I drank the more I would retreat, Christmas was no exception. I always had visions of us as a family out for a wonderful walk in the woods or around the village dressed in our new Christmas gear, laughing, joking and walking off our Christmas lunch a lá M&S uplifting advert!
The reality was I would be far too full, drunk and tired to even contemplate moving from the sofa, the kids would start getting bored, want to play a board game (my idea of hell) I would get ratty and so it would go on until I allowed them more chocolate. Since quitting drinking I have been able to (happily) drag everyone out into the cold and enjoy our walk because that’s what I’ve always wanted to do and l have the energy to do it.
I have made Christmas biscuits with joy instead of it feeling like a chore. I can be bothered to play out in the snow, or help with the letter to Santa. I have the time and energy, and extra money for those lovely treats that make this time of year that little bit more special.
Whatever you have always wanted to do but never got round to doing, make the effort this year and add a wonderful memory to your holidays.
You will save loads of money
Just think of the amount of extra cash you will have if you don’t buy any booze this year! I remember one year we went Christmas food shopping and we needed two trolleys – one for the food and one for the booze! What an outrageous expense, I can’t quite believe we did that.
Then we decided it would be more cost effective to buy an extra case of beer or wine every week to keep for Christmas so it didn’t appear so expensive. Trouble was we drank most of it beforehand so ended up spending even more money.
It’s not just the money on drink for the day itself that you will save, all those drinks on nights out, taxis, not to mention the extravagant (or ridiculous) presents you might buy if drinking and Priming! What you choose to do with that extra dosh is up to you but the point is, there will be extra cash and that can only be a fantastic thing!
You will get a head start on your resolutions
It is a well known fact that New Year’s Resolutions usually only last until around mid January. January can be pretty miserable, back to work, rubbish weather, huge anticlimax after all those weeks of extravagance and glitter.
Things can seem a bit dull, boring and grey, it’s no wonder we find it hard to keep our motivation. However, if you choose to stop drinking now, with all the sparkle, the excitement, the presents and the chocolate going on, then come January you will already be way ahead of everyone else and as we know things do get easier, the longer you stick at it, so why not start now!
You will look and feel better
Christmas and New Year are exhausting and to keep up with everything and not get run down, you need some proper rest and self care. Alcohol is self medicating not self caring. It disrupts your sleep so you feel and in turn look like crap by the end of it all.
How nice it will be to keep your proper sober sparkle throughout the whole thing, feel and look amazing. No amount of photoshopping can make you radiant and glowing by the way. No alcohol means better sleep, better sleep means more energy and we could all do with a load more energy during the festive season!
This year instead of muddling through either drunk, hungover or both, you will be clear headed, bright eyed, energized and perhaps a little bit annoying!
A sober Christmas is liberating
Al though we associate Christmas with copious amounts of booze, it is actually very freeing not to have to worry about alcohol at all. One of my clients told me,
“I am looking forward to Christmas for the greatness that it is and not having to worry about how much, when, what to drink.”
It is far simpler to just not drink as opposed to cut down or try and moderate, especially when everyone else is trying to get as much alcoholic cheer down their throats as possible.
How nice it will be to not have to think about how much you can drink without getting drunk at the office party or in front of your parents. No more questions about what wines to buy to go with dinner, should I get some spirits in, what about mixers or beers for the boys, shall I get brandy or whisky or both? When is it a reasonable hour to have a first drink? Shall I stick to wine or beer, what about Bucks Fizz, a nightcap, do I need a taxi, shall I have dessert or another glass of wine? How much shall I buy, what if we run out, maybe I should get extra but should I hide it just in case? AAHHRRGGHH! I am exhausted just writing this!
Making decisions and thinking about booze all the time is exhausting and gets in the way of what Christmas should really be all about. There is nothing more calming, liberating and blissful to know that you don’t have to worry about or think about any of that. Just enjoy the festive season for what it is.
Is this your first Christmas without alcohol? How are you feeling about it? What are you looking forward to the most? Let me know in the comments below and if you have any worries about it, I’ll help you. Happy planning and I will let you know how it goes for me after the big day!
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