Let’s say you’re not a drinker, but enjoy the social aspect of attending parties and other events, especially during the holiday season – You might wonder how to comfortably fit in and not feel like a party pooper.  How can you defy the popular misconception that non-drinkers are boring and the party ends with them? If attending parties is something you enjoy, then you shouldn’t have to feel anxious attending or sit home, just because you’re not a drinker.  

Here are some tips for enjoying the party season while maintaining your sobriety and cool social standing:

  1. First, know that anxiety begins and ends in the head so work on the way that you think about things. The only expectations that matter here are yours — not those that other people have of you. So nix the social comparisons and be your own person. If that’s the sober guy or gal, be okay with that.
  2. Remind yourself of your motivation.  Really think about your reasons for not drinking.  Maybe it is your health and wellness, or maybe it’s simply to be more clear-headed.  Own the reasons and keep them in mind prior and during the party.  
  3. Find a worthwhile event to attend.  Don’t feel like you have to attend every event you’re invited to just to fit in or out of fear of being perceived as a party pooper.  Attend events that have meaning to you.  Perhaps celebrating a person or holiday that you like, one that fits your schedule, and one that ultimately makes you feel good.  
  4. Attend with people you feel comfortable with.  If those who will be attending are known to be heavy drinkers and drug users, simply sit that one out.  There’s no need to put yourself in a situation where you know you’ll feel out of place. 
  5. If you feel compelled or just more comfortable with something in hand, then know there are options.  Consider water, soda, juice, a non-alcoholic cocktail, or food.
  6. Be okay saying ‘no’ and don’t worry about feeling like you’re being judged.  Know that you are more aware of your sobriety than anyone else is. Anxiety sometimes can loom larger than life…but in your head, not in those perceiving you.
  7. Surround yourself with people who respect and support your decisions to not drink.  Anything short of that and you may want to re-evaluate them as a friend.
  8. Have a game plan in place.  For example, when do you plan to leave?  What will you say to people if they ask if you want a drink?  Here are some sample responses that might be helpful: “I’m not in the mood”, “I have a busy day tomorrow”, `I’m not drinking these days”, “I’m getting started early on my health goals for the New Year”, “I’m the designated driver.”

For more tips on living a healthy and stress-free life, check out my book Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.


  • Jonathan Alpert

    Psychotherapist, executive performance coach, and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. Twitter: @JonathanAlpert

    Jonathan Alpert is a psychotherapist, columnist, performance coach and author in Manhattan. As a psychotherapist, he has helped countless couples and individuals overcome a wide range of challenges and go on to achieve success. He discussed his results-oriented approach in his 2012 New York Times Opinion piece, “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already”, which continues to be debated and garner international attention. Alpert is frequently interviewed by major TV, print and digital media outlets and has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, FOX, and Good Morning America discussing current events, mental health, hard news stories, celebrities/politicians, as well as lifestyle and hot-button issues. He appears in the 2010 Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job commenting on the financial crisis. With his unique insight into how people think and their motivations, Alpert helps clients develop and strengthen their brands. He has been a spokesperson for NutriBullet, Liberty Mutual insurance, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Jonathan’s 2012 book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days has been translated into six languages worldwide. Alpert continues to provide advice to the masses through his Inc.com, Huffington Post, and Thrive columns. @JonathanAlpert