5 Simple Ways to Have a Dry January and Still be Social

Dry January is catching on, and you can absolutely participate without giving up your social life. Try these tricks for navigating social situations when you’re temporarily teetotaling.

What is Dry January?

Dry January is pretty self-explanatory: for the month of January, you skip the booze.

There are many reasons that people participate in Dry January. Maybe it’s to save money, or maybe you want to let your body have a break after way too many glasses of spiked nog over the holidays. According to the charitable group Alcohol Concern:

  • 79 percent of people who participate in Dry January save money.
  • 62 percent experience better sleep and feel more energetic.
  • 49 percent lose weight.

Whatever your reasoning, the tips below can help you navigate your alcohol-free month, even if your social life is pretty bar-centric.

Dry January and Social Situations

Dry January and Social Situations

If your friend group or family tends to organize social situations over drinks, it can feel like Dry January is just going to be too awkward, but it doesn’t have to be! Below are some ways to have a Dry January without giving up your social life.

There are tricks below for how to talk to friends and family about it and ways to just avoid the subject altogether, even if you’re meeting up at a bar.

I’ve actually never done dry January, but after a particularly wild Phish tour over the summer, I did a couple of dry months this past fall, to give my body a break. It was great, and once I got the hang of navigating potentially tricky social situations, it was very easy.

In fact, it was so easy, that I’m still teetotaling pretty much all the time. I’ll have a glass of wine on special occasions, but overall I like how not drinking has made me feel. The tactics below are ones that have worked well for me.

How to Have a Dry January

How to Have a Dry January

1. Tell the host.

If you feel comfortable, give the host a heads up that you’re not drinking.

One of my close friends hosts a weekly Project Runway gathering at her house. She always makes a special snack and signature cocktail. When I explained that I was taking a break from booze for a while, she was gracious enough to choose cocktail recipes that can be served without the booze.

During Dry January, I think telling your host is even easier, because it’s becoming a more well-known practice. I think the key is to inform your friends and families in a matter-of-fact, non-judgemental way. Just tell them that you overdid it during the holidays and are taking January to let your body bounce back. Easy peasy!

2. Grab a decoy.

In some situations, like an office party or gathering where you aren’t close with everyone, it may be easier to just avoid the topic of Dry January and your reasons for doing it. In these cases, I like to quietly fix myself (or order, if we are at a bar) a soda water with lime or some other drink that looks like a cocktail.

Keeping a drink in your hand prevents anyone from offering you one, leading to an awkward conversation.

3. Bring a fancy mocktail.

One thing I learned during my dry fall is that when I want a glass of wine or a cocktail, what I am really after is just a special drink. Provide one for yourself! If you’re hosting or attending a party during your Dry January, you can offer to bring a mocktail to share.

The fun thing about a mocktail is that other guests can easily turn most mocktail recipes into cocktail recipes by adding an ounce or two of booze to their glass. Everyone can have what they want!

4. Go out during the day.

People are much more understanding when someone’s not up for day-drinking. Instead of a night out at a bar, hit a local coffee shop or check out the new juice/smoothie place. You can still sit, sip and chat without the pressure to order a beer.

5. Make jokes.

Jokes are my go-to when it comes to diffusing a potentially cringe-worthy conversation, and it works great when someone is pressuring you to order a cocktail when all you want is a cranberry juice and soda water spritzer.

During my dry fall, I fell back on, “More for you!” if it felt like my drink choices were making other folks feel awkward.

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