The holiday season can be a tough time of year for many people. This time of year is filled with holiday parties that often include alcoholic beverages. People will drink for many reasons. They may drink in order to feel relaxed, enjoy the taste, or feel pressured to drink socially. Some people are not necessarily drinking in order to “cope” with the holidays, they may choose to use these many celebrations as an excuse to drink more than usual. Others tend to drink in order to cope with the holidays and family tension1.
Researchers have found that there is an increase in drinking around the holidays. They have found2:
- 16% of adults say they drink more than usual during the holidays
- 22% of those who have attended a holiday work party have felt pressured to drink
- 50% of people say that alcohol plays a role in their family’s holiday gatherings
- 96% of adults went to work hung over after a party, or know someone who did
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day sees a dramatic increase in DUI offenses and other alcohol-related issues. In 2016, 728 people were injured or killed each day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in drunk driving accidents, this is two to three times higher than the rest of the year3. Additionally, 70% of the population reports higher alcohol consumption during the last two weeks of December4.
There are several groups of people who should avoid consuming alcohol year-round, but the holidays can make it harder to say no. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should not drink alcohol. According to the CDC, there is no safe time, no safe amount, and no safe type of alcohol to drink while pregnant5.The other groups of individuals who should not consume alcohol include6:
- Children and adolescents
- Individuals of any age who cannot restrict their drinking to moderate levels
- Individuals who plan to drive, operate machinery, or take part in other activities that require attention, skill or coordination
- Individuals taking prescription or over-the counter medications that can interact with alcohol
- Religious reasons or health reasons
The holiday season can be challenging to get through for people who don’t drink alcohol. For this reason, we have compiled a helpful list of how to get through the holidays without drinking.
- Skip the risky parties
- If an event specifically says it is going to be a cocktail party or it’s an event at a bar don’t go unless you really feel that you need to. In this case most bartenders have great recipes for mocktails.
- Drink something fun (but non-alcoholic)
- There are many festive alcohol-free cocktails (mocktails) to choose from. We will list some of our favorites below.
- Be assertive
- Learn how to say no and stick to it. Some people find that having a stock phrase that doesn’t allow further conversation is helpful. These could include, “not thanks, I’m trying to get healthy.” “Or no thanks I’m pregnant.”
- Make sure you have social support
- Educating your family and friends who will support you through the holidays is great idea. You can ask your support group to not offer you alcohol, to give words of support, withhold criticism, and many others8.
- Watch out for stressful moments
- Family events can be very stressful. This can cause people who don’t want to drink to drink. So be aware and prepare for these situations.
- Suggest different activities
- Instead of going to holiday parties invite your friends to something you can enjoy that doesn’t involve alcohol. These can be things like dinner, movies, or ice-skating
If you do decide to have a few alcoholic beverages make sure that you get a sober ride home. There are many services available. Some of these are9:
- This app from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is easy-to-use with three simple choices—find a taxi, call a friend, or show you where you are on a map.
- A rideshare app you can download on the Apple app store, Microsoft store, and google play
- Lyft is a ride share service which is typically more affordable than a taxi. The app can be downloaded on the Apple app store, Microsoft store, and google play
- Tipsy Tow
- Tipsy Tow provides a free ride home and vehicle tow of up to 10 miles for any driver, not just AAA Members. For mileage greater than this a standard towing rate is charged. Users can call them at (800) 222-4357.
- Designated Drivers Inc
- In the Las Vegas area, Designated Drivers, Inc. offers a driver who will drive you home in your own car, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for a $60 flat fee.
- Call (877) 456-7433. They will be expanding to other areas soon
Here are some of our favorite mocktails for the holidays8.
Outside of the Macarena, this drink may be the greatest import ever to arrive from the Spanish-speaking world. Since you make everything up the night before, sangria is ideal for a large party: just pull it out of the fridge when the guests arrive and serve.
- 2-liters alcohol-free red wine (some alcohol-free products have trace amounts of alcohol)
- 1-liter concord grape juice
- 10 fresh oranges
- 2 golden delicious apples
- 2 red apples
- 2 lbs. seedless grapes
- Spread grapes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze overnight.
- Wash oranges with slightly soapy water (removes pesticides). Rinse. Cut into small wedges. Dice apples into large chunks.
- Combine oranges, apples, wine and grape juice in a large serving bowl. Chill overnight.
- Add frozen grapes immediately before serving. Serves 20.
Chocolate Cappuccino Chill
The ancient Aztecs considered chocolate to be the nectar of the gods. To the Beatniks, espresso was, “like, way hep man.” Now you can bring these two great cultures together in your own kitchen with this decadent treat. Just whip it up whenever the craving for caffeine and sugar strikes.
- Cubed ice
- 4 oz. chocolate syrup
- 8 oz. half-and0half
- oz. espresso (caffeine-free for pregnant women)
- Fill blender 3/4 full with ice. Add remaining ingredients. Blend until frothy.
- Pour into glass mugs. Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate shavings— whatever your sweet little tooth desires. Serves 4
It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. The air is crisp and the spirit jovial, but you know you’ll end up in a department store at midnight searching frantically for the perfect wide-stripe tie for Uncle Ed. At times like these, there’s only one thing to do: throw open your doors, invite your merriest friends, simmer up a pot of fragrant wassail and raise a glass to your holiday sanity.
- 1 qt. apple juice
- 1 qt. apple cider
- 8 oranges
- 4 lemons
- 16 cinnamon sticks (10 for garnish)
- 8 whole cloves
- 6 whole allspice berries
- ¼ tsp. mace
- In a large pot, combine apple juice and cider. Wash and slice oranges and lemons. Throw ‘em in
- Create a spice bouquet by wrapping 6 cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice and mace in a piece of cheesecloth or muslin. Add to juice. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.
- Ladle into mugs. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. Serves 10.
- How to Cope with Family Holiday Events… Without Alcohol! (2017). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-high-functioning-alcoholic/201111/how-cope-family-holiday-events-without-alcohol
- Infographic: Drinking & DUIs During the Holidays 2017. (2017, November 13). Retrieved from https://www.scramsystems.com/blog/2017/11/infographic-drinking-duis-holidays-2017/
- Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (2014). Alarming Stats Show Holiday Drinking an Issue for Many: Infographic highlights increased binge drinking, DUIs between Thanksgiving eve and New Year’s. ProQuest. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1626582527?accountid=452&pq-origsite=summon.
- Kushnir, V., & Cunningham, J. A. (2014). Event-Specific Drinking in the General Population. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 75(6), 968-972. doi:10.15288/jsad.2014.75.968
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, September 10). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/index.html
- Alcohol Screening. (2018). Who Should Not Drink. Retrieved from http://www.alcoholscreening.org/Learn-More.aspx?topicID=9&articleID=38
- National Institutes of Health. (2009). Rethinking Drinking. Psychiatric News, 44(9), 6-6. doi:10.1176/pn.44.9.0006b
- Malsberger, K., & Cusumano, C. (2008). Cheers! Liquor-less libations to make your party swing. California State Automobile Association.
- Arrive Alive: 8 Sober Ride Services to Use this Holiday Season. https://www.idrivesafely.com/defensive-driving/trending/arrive-alive-8-sober-ride-services-use-holiday-season
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