Tips for Navigating Holiday Gatherings

Jul 5, 2022

What is your favorite holiday? Do you love Christmas with all of the gifts and sweet treats? Maybe you love Thanksgiving because of the turkey, dressing, and other hearty food it brings.

Holidays often involve parties and social gatherings that can be tricky to navigate during recovery. Did you get invited to the big holiday party for work, or the beach bonfire for the Fourth of July? If you are in recovery, you may have a choice to make!

Some may choose to avoid these gatherings altogether. It can be difficult to identify what you can and cannot handle without first experiencing the situation. It is important to consider the environment, of course, before making your decision. If the main activity is to consume alcohol, like a booze cruise, for example, this party might not be for you.

If the setting is going to be appropriate and you are considering attending, it is important to come prepared with strategies and tools to navigate these situations. With time and experience, you can learn what your capabilities are and what works best for you. A few tips for successfully navigating holiday celebrations could include the following:

Bring Your Own Beverages

Having a beverage in your hand can be a comfort thing for some during social gatherings. Sometimes, it can be an expectation, where the lack of a beverage could invite others to offer drinks. 

Avoid this scenario by bringing your own beverage! Fill up your favorite cup with a preferred soda, seltzer water, or tea. This should make you feel and look more comfortable and can help you avoid countless offers and questions.

Know What to Say

This is where being prepared comes into play. More than likely, if you are attending a party or holiday gathering, there will be opportunities to drink. Some who may not be aware of your situation might even encourage it.

Practice what you are going to say in these situations. You could choose to be completely upfront and disclose your sobriety when offered drinks. If this is uncomfortable, you could simply state that you aren’t drinking tonight or imply that you have to be up early the next day. There are even many diets that require refraining from drinking if followed correctly, so this could be a reasonable explanation, as well. 

Choose what makes you most comfortable and stick with it. Practice it a few times if need be. Be sure to run through any and all scenarios you may encounter so you feel confident.

Plan Your Exit

Don’t feel as though you have to stay until the end of the night. To be safe, consider arriving early and leaving early. Usually, things tend to escalate as the evening gets later. This is when you are most likely to experience temptation and peer pressure from others.

It can help to have a reason for leaving early. Plan this in advance, as well. Make plans to be somewhere else by a certain time and stick with that plan. 

Seek Support

This is an ideal time to connect with your sponsor. No one wants to miss out on holiday fun, but the truth is, it can really be tough to be in this type of environment during recovery.

Consider connecting with your sponsor or support group prior to attending the event to ensure you have a solid plan in place. Bounce ideas off of them and ask for suggestions. They may have tips based on what they have experienced and can share what has worked for them.

Plan to connect both before and after the event. This establishes some accountability and can help you stay focused and avoid any behaviors that could lead to relapse.  

Maintain Boundaries

Holiday gatherings almost always involve surrounding yourself with family and close friends. Often, throughout treatment, you learn to establish boundaries that could pertain to your loved ones. 

It’s important to honor the boundaries you have set. This can be difficult in these environments, but these boundaries were set for a reason and it is important to honor them. 

Sometimes, family members or old friends can be triggering. If this is the case and you know that person or group of people will be in attendance, it is probably best to skip that party or gathering. It isn’t worth derailing your progress.

Summer holidays, such as July 4th, often include celebrating with alcohol. If you choose to attend holiday parties and gatherings, be sure to be prepared when you go. Consider the above tips and plan ahead! With the right tools and preparation, you can successfully celebrate the holidays with the ones you love. 

Who doesn’t love the holidays? The holidays are usually filled with time well spent with family and friends. Unfortunately, holiday celebrations, gatherings, and parties can be very difficult to navigate following treatment and during recovery. With many of these events involving drinking alcohol, it can be easy to be tempted and fall off course. Coming into these situations feeling prepared and confident is key. Whether you choose to disclose your sobriety or not, you must be prepared to handle a few potentially uncomfortable encounters. At Renaissance Ranch, we help you learn strategies and develop tools for coping with struggles life can bring outside of treatment. Staying engaged through our alumni treatment can help you stay on track and remain connected even following your stay. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, call Renaissance Ranch today at (801) 308-8898.