How to Do the Holiday Office Party Sober Like You Mean It

holiday office party sober

It’s that time of year that brings back memories by sound, scent and vibrant color. Holiday cheer, however you experience it, can heighten the emotions and bring out relapse triggers that feel like they’re coming from left field. For many that have been through “the program”, choosing to keep that part of our lives separate from the workplace is how we hold sobriety close to the vest. Now there’s that annual holiday event at work on the schedule. You might wonder how can you possibly attend without everyone thinking I’m just the token buzzkill party-pooper? Here’s how to do the holiday office party sober like you mean it and still be chill in the eyes of your coworkers, and your boss.

Avoiding the Relapse Triggers When They’re Everywhere

Holiday relapse prevention might seem like a tall order when everywhere you turn, there are signs that beckon “the old days” revisited. Maybe it’s the scent of fresh-baked gingerbread men, the warmth of sitting by the fireplace, the announcement that your favorite coffee joint has released their signature Eggnog Latte, but temptation is constantly tapping your shoulder. Hiding in a cave isn’t the answer, especially if you’re living with family, friends or in a sober living home. Put your happy face on, step out into the workplace limelight, because showing off sobriety will make your inner light shine – and that is super holiday sexy!

You Don’t Have to Wear Sobriety on Your Sleeve

holiday office party soberBe proud of your sobriety status. Feel good about your achievements in sticking to your personal commitments, honoring your body, mind and soul, and knowing that this new relationship you’re building with your higher self is going to pay off well in your career and your health. And don’t think for a minute that management doesn’t note who’s being naughty and nice at the holiday office party. They do. There’s no reason for you to talk about sobriety like it’s a less-than status or a social handicap. Present your sobriety as a positive matter-of-fact, not by what you say but more by what you do.

Volunteer to Be the Designated Driver

Uber and Lyft are fine but nothing says, “I care about my friends at work” than offering to be the chaperone to and from the office party. You’ll get instant respect and it’s like an energy shot for your self-esteem. Your associates will thank you and it could be the start of some new friendships.

Eat Before the Party Starts

Holiday foods can be a huge trigger, especially when it comes to alcohol consumption. Christmas traditions tend to include the addition of liqueur into certain dishes such as entrees, cakes, brownies, after-dinner coffee drinks, and sparkling punch. If you eat before going to the holiday office party, you won’t be hungry when you get there. That way, you can focus on the people you meet, the laughs you’ll share and the extra calories you’ll save. Carrying around 10 more pounds from holiday mealtime overconsumption is not a good look and not the best way to head into the New Year.

Go with a Support System

If you’re feeling a little awkward about going to the Holiday party you’re not alone, and this has nothing to do with sobriety. There’s an unspoken list of rules that come with attending office parties. And with today’s media headlines surrounding the growing claims of sexual harassment and sexual assaults in the workplace, staying sober during the festivities is the safer way to go, for everyone. But you need some reinforcements. If possible, have a friend who either supports your sobriety or also shares the sober life come with you to the party. Put your sponsor, best friend or family member on speed dial in case you need a quick chat, and a positive reminder of how great you’re doing.

Brag the Next Day While Your Coworkers Do the Walk of Shame

There’s always that one person who overdoes it, drinks too much, flirts too much, gossips too much or thinks dancing on the crisp, red, linen tabletop is a good idea at the time. Until the next day, when the social media pics swirl through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram like a cyclone. Since you’ve stayed strong and attended the party in the alcohol- and drug-free zone, you’ll enter the office space with your head held high and a clear conscience. Everyone else might be doing the walk of shame, calling in sick, or cowering under their desk.

Send These 10 Best Tips to Your Mobile Device

Relapse triggers can pop up when you least expect them. Help prevent them from escalating and putting your hard-earned sobriety at risk by sending these tips to your phone or pad (and a friend’s) as a reference to keep you on track.

10 Best Tips to Avoid Holiday Office Party Relapse

  1. Exercise or choose a mindfulness activity to do a few hours before the party
  2. Don’t go hangry or tired
  3. Pick a motivational phrase and say it before entering the party
  4. Be responsible for your own way to and from the party
  5. Arrive early, leave early
  6. Bring support (sober friends, this 10 Best Tips list)
  7. BYON – bring your own non-alcohol drink in hand
  8. Own sobriety proudly, there’s nothing more desirable
  9. Stay busy, engage with others, manage the music selection or dance
  10. Smile, click your heels three times and remember, there’s no place like home

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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.