Today marks seven full weeks of booze-free living for me—the longest stretch of sobriety since I was 21 (err, 16?).
Looking back at the recent past (the last, say, five-ish years), I would not say I was a heavy drinker. I did my fair share of binge-drinking the weekends away, and living through hangovers that would rob me of beautiful, SoCal beach mornings and early afternoons… hangovers that robbed me of precious time. In addition to weekend benders, I would rarely hesitate to open a bottle of wine during the week, after work, and, of course, when tuning into The Bachelor.
Alcohol is a staple ingredient to our social gatherings. There is seemingly an excuse to drink each day of the week: Taco Tuesday, Wine Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, Friday-Saturday just PARTAY, Sunday Funday, and… Bachelor Mondays (okay, maybe I made this one up). The list goes on: alcohol at work dinners, weddings, showers, sporting events, even yoga, where instructors are now teaching classes at micro breweries and offering a post practice pint!
We use alcohol as a social lubricant. It has a way of helping people feel more comfortable, it allows conversation to flow, it loosens people up. I have had some of the most fun/hilarious times of my life under the influence of alcohol. We lose all inhibitions, we dance wildly, we talk freely, we relax and let go.
However, in my opinion, alcohol can be a major distraction to LIFE, acting as a thief that has the ability to rob us of our time and reality. It has a way of “making time fly.” And do we really want it to go by quickly?
I don’t! There are a few reasons I decided to give up drinking (for now, and no, not pregnant), but I surprisingly do not miss the way I originally thought I would. I have more energy, my body feels physically stronger, I no longer have heart palpitations (this would usually happen mornings after having a few drinks), I sleep better—all reasons I challenge you to give it a… shot! (Pun intended.)
Now since we’re not drinking, how do we have fun? We don’t.
Kidding! Insert, booze-free bash! And alcohol-free cocktail recipes! How do we host a successful, enjoyable party that will (hopefully) inspire others to pursue similar affairs?
1. Convince yourself it will be successful and loads of fun. For many people, it might sound strange to receive an invite to an alcohol-free party. And, you as the host may question, “Will they have fun? Will they be able to let loose? Will there be nerves and apprehension?” Maybe, probably… but your shindig will be one to remember if YOU create the right environment and go into it with positive party vibes!
2. Let your guests know alcohol will not be present. There are few things more awkward than blindsiding your guest list, especially with the absence of something that is so common at almost all other social gatherings. Tell them that you party with them (with alcoholic libations) all the time, and you want to hang out in a different way. And by letting folks know ahead of time, you will weed out the people who are not interested in a sober cool time.
3. Create the right environment. Include name tags, make signage and hang décor, blow up balloons, and, most importantly, plan for food, whether you supply it, assign pot-luck dishes or arrange for catering. If there is food, people WILL come.
4. Concoct a few different cocktails. Delicious, healthy, fresh ingredients are easy to whip up and serve. I also believe that physically holding something whilst conversing with others is a way to feel more at ease. Having a mocktail in hand to “hide behind” may just have a placebo effect on folks. (Trickery at its finest.) And, with a 0.00% BAC, guests are likely to consume fewer total calories and sugar by reducing cravings and appetite throughout the evening. Say goodbye to midnight munchies!
5. Plan activities! By providing name tags, people may feel instantly at ease. The pressure of remembering twenty names at the start of the party no longer exists. But to continue the fun in getting to know one another on deeper levels, organize games and activities. Take it back to high school and play Truth or Dare, Two Truths and a Lie, 20 Questions. Check out UncommonGoods.com and purchase “Table Topics” cards for conversation starters. Board games are great to have on hand, too, if you feel the party is going in that direction. And if your guests are very open-minded, perhaps suggest a guided meditation for 3-5 minutes and share thoughts and feelings afterwards.
6. Play music and (hopefully) by the end of the night people will be shaking their bon bons and getting down!
Now, here are three easy alcohol-free cocktail recipes for your booze-free bash!
LEMON LAVENDER SPRITZER SWEETENED WITH HONEY
- 1 ½ tbsp honey lavender simple syrup (½ c water, ½ c honey w/ loose lavender flowers in pot until boiling, let cool and place in fridge for storage)
- 1/8-1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 3-4 splashes bitters (I use citrus bitters)
- Top off with club soda
Splash bitters over 4-5 large cubes of ice in serving glass. Place honey lavender syrup and lemon juice in shaker with ice, SHAKE! Pour contents over ice in glass, top off with club soda. Garnish with lavender flowers and serve.
FROZEN BANANA PIÑA COLADAS
- 2 ripe, frozen bananas
- 1 cup ripe, frozen pineapple
- ½ can full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup unsweetened juice – pineapple, orange juice, I use Papaya Ceres 100% Juice sold at World Market
Place all contents in high speed blender with 4-5 cubes of ice and blend until smooth. Garnish with slice of pineapple and serve.
- 6 oz ginger beer
- 1-2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 2 oz club soda
Add ice to serving glasses, pour lime juice over ice, add club soda, top off with ginger beer of choice. Garnish with lime slices and serve.
A few recipes to serve alongside your mocktails:
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