It’s not every year that Cinco de Mayo falls on a Saturday. But for 2018 it does, making the opportunity for celebrating the Mexican army’s victory over France (Battle of Puebla, 1862) more lively. The holiday isn’t just for those with family history tied to the culture, Cinco de Mayo is an Arizona statewide favorite. More than chips, salsa and succulent, culinary dishes from south of the border, it’s an excuse to drink in excess. For those who have chosen to bypass alcohol, the festivities can prove too tempting with the risk of triggering relapse, high. However, there are ways to enjoy and celebrate Cinco de Mayo sober and if you must have a cocktail or two, take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe.

Plan Ahead to Avoid the Rush

In general, people are creatures of habit. When we stick to our normal fare (what we usually do each day), our expectations tend to be met – good and bad. When considering getting together with friends or hitting the town for a special Cinco de Mayo dinner in Tucson, Scottsdale or downtown Phoenix, do it strategically.

Cinco De Mayo Strategy

  • Set your limit (money spend, alcohol intake)
  • Decide the place and time
  • Choose a DD (designated driver)
  • Stay aware

Getting through the celebration unscathed isn’t just about being responsible in your choices and who you hang out with. Staying safe when surrounded by others (those known as well as strangers) has a lot to do with understanding the risks imposed by the people, places and things out of your control. It’s not the kind of rush that’s a pleasurable experience.

Pick the Place for Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Once you’ve decided on what you’re doing for the holiday, map out all the details. Don’t deviate from the dollar amount you want to spend, where you’re going or how you’re getting there and back. If you’re not the designated driver make sure whoever is, doesn’t drink (defeats the purpose). Be mindful of who is pouring the drinks. Even if you are drinking non-alcoholic beverages, date-rape drugs can be added and not detected, making anyone easy prey to sexual assault and other crimes. If your party plans include the use of Uber or Lyft, get ready to pay hefty fees to ride as these services raise their rates based on increased demand.

Drive with Extra Caution

Arizona law enforcement will also be stepping up their efforts to keep people safe on the roads. Expect special task forces focused on drunk drivers with added DUI checkpoints and patrols waiting in areas where there are heavy concentrations of bars, eateries and nightclubs. City police and county sheriffs won’t just be checking for over-the-limit alcohol consumption: Any kind of substance abuse will be noted and can carry legal consequences.

Cinco de Mayo Made Sweeter Good Taste

non-alcoholic holiday

The best way to avoid the potential drama from partaking in alcohol-related activities is to stay away from it. If you want to celebrate the holiday in the company of people you know and trust, go for it by hosting your own celebration.

Bring Out Your Inner Foodie

Mexican heritage is alive with vibrant color and culture. Use this as a backdrop for perfect food and beverage pairings at home. Try something new that excites the palate such as Tinga Poblana de Pollo y Papas (smoky, spicy chicken and potatoes) or Pollo en Mole Poblano (Chicken Mole) with delicate hints of cinnamon, banana and chocolate. Include your guests in the menu items by assigning each with a recipe to call their own and bring to your table.

Tangy sweetness can come from specialty non-alcoholic drinks that you can savor through each course. Here’s a recipe that can be modified with your fruit of choice:

Virgin Margaritas Recipe:

  • 4 glasses
  • 4 cups of ice cubes
  • 2/3 cup grapefruit juice (unsweetened)
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 1 small can, frozen limeade concentrate (6 oz)
  • Coarse sugar
  • Wedges of lime


  1. Pour coarse sugar onto a wide bowl or plate.
  2. Rub lime wedge on rim of each glass.
  3. Take each glass, turn upside down and dip top edge in sugar until it’s coated.
  4. Blend limeade, orange and grapefruit juices with ice cubes until slush-like.
  5. Pour into glasses and serve.

Hit the Ground Running Instead

Removing cocktails from your Cinco de Mayo soiree is one way to maintain health and lower caloric intake. Another way is to participate in any of the local 5K, 10K or half-marathons across Arizona on May 5th and 6th. It’s not too late to register for an event and it’s a great way to feel good about you and meet other like-minded people along the race.

7 Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Sober

Now that you’ve been given some food for thought on how to approach the weekend holiday without completely derailing healthy lifestyle choices, you can also use the quick punch list below as a go-to reference for Cinco de Mayo and any other holiday gathering that may tempt you to go down the wrong road.

7 Ways to Celebrate Holidays Safely

  • Plan festivities in advance
  • Pick people and places wisely
  • Practice mindfulness days before and day of holiday
  • Choose options that promote positive outcomes
  • Push potential relapse triggers away
  • Stay in the moment, don’t relive the past
  • Start a new, healthy tradition

Keep Your Friends Safe and Sobriety Safer by Sharing This Information with Others

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Melanie SternAuthored by Melanie Stern, Content Director for Scottsdale Recovery Center, Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers and Cohn Media, LLC. Writer and broadcaster covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.

Content for Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and restaurants. Advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888.512.1705.

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