How to not drink during the holidays - tips for an alcohol free Christmas

With the festive season almost upon us, it can be a tricky time for those aiming to stay sober during the holidays. Alcohol is deeply steeped in our Christmas traditions and festivities, from office parties to New Year celebrations, making it extremely difficult for people to stick to their alcohol-free goals.

Why do we drink more during the festive season?

Research from alcohol charity Drinkaware revealed that almost two thirds (61%) of drinkers in the UK over-indulge with alcohol over the holidays more than they usually would, while one in five (18%) experience more hangovers during the festive season. But what is it about Christmas that has us reaching for the bottle more often? Here are some explanations:

  1. Social expectations – excessive drinking is almost considered the norm around the festive season. How often do we hear things like ‘it’s only once a year!’ or ‘oh come on, it’s Christmas!’?
  2. Stress reliever - social gatherings, travel, family get-togethers, gift shopping and meeting work deadlines before the holidays can leave many people feeling exhausted, tense and anxious. This often leads to excessive alcohol consumption as a way to unwind or switch off.
  3. Temptation is everywhere – an increase in parties, events and social activities throughout the festive season means you are more likely to be in places where alcohol is readily available and offered to you.

Our top tips on how to not drink during the holidays

While temptation might lie around every corner, there are ways to avoid drinking, or lower your alcohol consumption, this Christmas. Here are our top tips for staying booze-free during the holidays:

1.      Be open and honest with friends and family

Be upfront about your alcohol-free goals with friends and family before the festive season. Not only will this mean you are more likely to avoid tricky situations at gatherings, but you might discover those around you will be keen to help you stick to your goals – you may even discover a non-drinking buddy who shares a similar aim!

2.      Plan alcohol-free festive activities

Remember - Christmas festivities don’t have to centre around alcohol. Swap boozy nights out for movie nights with hot chocolate, romantic winter walks, ice-skating or enjoy a trip to a panto or Christmas market with friends.

3.      Be the designated driver

Pick up your car keys instead of a drink this Christmas and you’ll suddenly find yourself very popular! But more importantly, being the designated driver is a great way to prevent you giving in to temptation and it’ll also stop others from asking awkward questions about why you’re not having ‘a proper drink’. Making sure everyone gets home safely while you enjoy a hangover-free morning the day after is definitely a win-win in our book!

4.      Have an exit strategy

The likelihood is at some point or other you’ll be around alcohol this Christmas. If you know you are going to be in a boozy environment, plan an escape strategy and don’t be afraid to leave if it all becomes a bit much. Similarly, if family tensions start to creep in (as they often do at this time of year), make some time for yourself – find a quiet space alone to read a book, listen to music or take a walk.

5.      Host a mocktail party

This is a firm favourite of ours at LiveWell Dorset! Below is a selection of mouth-watering drinks for a hangover-free Christmas celebration.

  • Jingle juice punch - swap the usual rum for extra cranberry juice, then use a sparkling non-alcoholic cider in place of the wine.
  • Spiced pomegranate mulled ‘wine’ - heat pomegranate juice, sugar, blackberries and apple juice together in a saucepan. Add 1 cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, peppercorns and orange, then strain into heatproof glasses.
  • Alcohol-free amaretto sour - whizz pineapple juice, lemon juice, egg white, cherry syrup and almond extract in a blender at a high speed, then pour into glasses and garnish with cherries to serve.
  • Peppermint eggnog – leave the rum, bourbon or brandy out of your traditional eggnog and replace with peppermint extract for a creamy, mouth-watering beverage that oozes Christmas spirit…without the actual spirits.
  • Non-alcoholic bucks fizz – see in the new year with a sparking glass of alcohol-free fizz. You can find bottles of non-alcoholic bucks fizz in many supermarkets or make your own with orange juice and a bottle of non-alcoholic prosecco.

For more booze-free inspiration, head over to our blog Make mine a mocktail!

Need more tips on how to stay sober during the holidays?

For more advice on how to avoid alcohol this Christmas, register with LiveWell Dorset today. Our team of expert coaches and advisors can provide one-on-one guidance on how to change your drinking habits now and in the future. You can also try our Are you Living Well? quiz to see how you compare to national guidelines.


Read more:


It's time for me to get my health in order

View full story

How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

Your Favourites?

or register, to favourite activities that you want to try.


Is this the first time that you've used our services, or have you already registered with us? To allow us to best serve you, please confirm whether you're new to LiveWell Dorset, or if you've spoken to us before and may have an existing account.

Welcome back, it's good to hear from you again!

To speak to one of our dedicated team and get the help you require please request a call back. All call backs from this service are free of charge to both landlines and mobile.

Request a Call Back

Do you provide your consent to share your information with the LiveWell Dorset team – part of Public Health Dorset ?

When you register with LiveWell Dorset, we ask you some questions about you and your health (how much you smoke, how active you are, how much you drink and how much you weigh). We store that information and use it to shape our service offer to you – such as the advice we give or the extra services we connect you to. The only people who will see this information will be those involved in the delivery of the service and management of the data. If you would like to use extra services (such as slimming clubs and pharmacies) we have to share this information with them. For us to be able to put you in touch with these services, we must have your consent to share that information with the service (we’ll ask for that later, when if you sign up for extra services).

Before we can sign you up any further, we need to know:

  • You're happy for your personal information to be shared with LiveWell Dorset.
  • You understand what information may be shared and why, and that at times, our contact to you may be supported by technology partners, who have the same data protection standards and safeguards as we do
  • You acknowledge that you can withdraw your consent at any time by informing LiveWell Dorset.
  • You understand that if you do not give consent or withdraw consent then it could be difficult for us to connect you some of the services we offer.

If you require any more information to help you make your choice then please contact the LiveWell Dorset team on 0800 840 1628. All telephone conversations at LiveWell Dorset are recorded for quality and training purposes, and stored whilst you are registered as active within the service.

Yes I consent

Sorry we can't continue at the moment

Unfortunately we need your permission to store your personal information to help us to assess the best support we could provide or signpost you to. If at any stage you change your mind and are happy to provide your personal information please come back and visit us again.