For many people in early recovery, making it through the holidays – without alcohol – seems boring and unattainable. Holiday parties are generally centered around eggnog, spiked cider, White Russians, and a ton of wine. This can be hard to navigate for the newly sober. The best way to combat the holiday blues in recovery is to create new holiday memories that don’t involve alcohol.


Here are 6 ideas on how to make the most out of your holiday season this year while maintaining your sobriety.


Explore the Outdoors 

I’m sure you’ve read plenty of “Improving your Mental Health” self-help blogs that encourage outdoor adventures. It’s no secret that the great outdoors serves as the perfect remedy to any and all emotional hangups. Anytime you spend time outside, you’ll need to stay hydrated with water or other non-alcoholic beverages. Therefore, this is the perfect setting to invite your friends and family to spend some time together – alcohol-free. Plan a hike through the mountains, take a walk on the beach, build a snowman, or plan a family Polar Bear Plunge. Plan a sober adventure outdoors this holiday season – your body will thank you.


Plan a Christmas Movie Marathon

There’s nothing more relaxing than sinking into the couch next to a fire reminiscing on your favorite childhood holiday movies with your loved ones. Whether you’re a fan of the classics like A Christmas Story or Home Alone, or you prefer animated films like A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! – a movie marathon is the best way to relax with friends and family. Throw on your favorite pair of sweatpants, load up on snacks, and enjoy a sobering, nostalgic night with your loved ones.


Host a Board Game Night

What alcoholic doesn’t enjoy a good competitive board game? Board games provide entertainment to players across the board of all ages, interests, and attention spans. Host a board game and invite all of your favorite friends and family. A night spent using your sober brain for humor and creativity is good for the soul. Not to mention, if some of your guests are drinking, you’ve got the advantage of keeping score and beating the competition – all thanks to your sobriety.


Organize a Baking Contest

Who doesn’t love decorating traditional holiday cookies? The holiday season is naturally synonymous with baking. From pies, crumbles, cookies, bars, and delicious pastries – if there’s one event that will keep your guests occupied, it’s a bake-off. You may have a few guests show up just to indulge in everyone else’s hard-earned goodies, but a baking contest makes for a sweet night with all of your friends and family. Some of the most memorable and deep bonding moments happen in the kitchen. This is the perfect opportunity to get to know more about your loved ones. Don’t forget: What happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen!


Go on a Holiday Light Tour

No matter where you live, Americans across the nation get into the holiday spirit by decorating their houses. From wreaths, lights, inflatable elves in the front yard, and Santa on the roof – the list of lively decorations goes on. Join in on celebrating the holiday festivities by decorating your house or simply enjoy the beauty from afar as you stroll through neighborhoods partaking in the tradition. Most cities host lighted botanical gardens during the holiday season. Plan a trip for you and the family to walk through these family-inspired events. Some light tours offer hayrides, hot cocoa, and even family photos to capture the entire experience. What better way to create sober holidays than basking in the holiday glow?


Host an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party

Many people in recovery feel uncomfortable attending a party that is fueled with alcoholic beverages and the discomfort of leaving their own safe haven. Hosting your own Ugly Sweater Christmas party is a win-win. Who doesn’t love thrifting at GoodWill for an ugly Christmas sweater? After all, It’s the most wonderful time of the year. If you are hosting the party at your home, you can load up on non-alcoholic beverages and your favorite snacks. Most likely, your friends and family will be considerate of your sobriety and they won’t BYOB to your party. Encourage everyone to participate in a White Elephant gift exchange and prepare yourself to be laughing for hours. Show all of your friends and family that life is beautiful – even sober!


The holiday season is notorious for alcohol-centered festivities, but you don’t have to let this theme isolate you from participating. You know yourself and what situations make you feel vulnerable. Planning sobriety-friendly activities will ensure you create new, fun holiday memories in recovery. Don’t feel pressured into doing anything you are uncomfortable with and recognize that it’s okay to put your sobriety first. Take care of yourself and do not be afraid to limit holiday family time as needed. After all, only you are responsible for your sobriety – Make some new alcohol-free holiday memories.