Making the decision not to drink alcohol on New Year’s Eve isn’t always easy because more people tend to drink to excess during the holiday.
However, many people are embracing a sober lifestyle, whether it’s because they’re in recovery from alcohol use disorder or because they’re curious about what their life would be like without drinking.
Although heavy drinking is sometimes associated mainly with young people, a 2022 alcohol study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that alcohol use comes with risks for people of all ages.
More people, both men and women, died from alcohol-related deaths in 2020 in the 55-to-64-year-old age group than in any other age group.
If you are looking for a way to ring in the new year without alcohol, here are eight ideas to consider.
1. NYE Staycation Getaway
We’re starting big, with an option that requires a little planning in advance but can make for a really special way to welcome in 2023.
Look into local Airbnbs or hotels that offer a hot tub, an indoor swimming pool, city views, seclusion, access to nature, sports channels, or some other feature of interest to you.
Keep in mind that Airbnbs are less likely than hotels to offer standard amenities, so if you plan on watching the ball drop in NYC on TV, make sure that a TV is available.
2. Movie/T.V. Series Marathon
There is never a bad time for a T.V. series or movie marathon, but there may be no better time than New Year’s Eve. Instead of going to a party with lots of alcohol, you can escape into your favorite worlds and characters and let the urge to drink fade to black.
Gather some of your favorite snacks, grab a non-alcoholic beverage of your choice, get together with a few friends, and enjoy whatever you’re watching alcohol-free.
3. Game Night
A game night is another excellent way to have a sober New Year’s Eve celebration. You can still be around friends to ring in the new year, but alcohol doesn’t need to come into the mix.
There are so many games to choose from, such as board games, card games, or charades. Make a bunch of amazing food, maybe add in a few mocktails, and have fun.
This is also something you can do virtually with friends through online and app games.
4. Dinner Party
While going out to a New Year’s Eve party is the traditional thing to do, why not avoid all the crowds and have your own New Year’s Eve dinner party?
If you’re a good cook, figure out what you want to make and impress your friends and family members with your skills. If you can barely boil water, grab some pre-made appetizers and store-bought meals, or order ahead from your favorite restaurant. As long as there’s free food, no one is going to care.
You could also make it a potluck. With everyone contributing a dish, it takes some of the pressure off you. Just make sure everyone knows not to bring alcohol.
5. Self-Care Night
Addiction recovery is hard. New Year’s Eve is the perfect time for not only reflection but also some self-care. Self-care, which is all about intentional actions, is important for supporting your emotional, physical, and mental health.
You can relax on your own by doing yoga, taking a bath, or playing calming music. If you need some companionship, invite some friends over for a relaxing night in.
6. Non-Alcoholic Drinks Celebration
If you want the same feeling of having drinks on New Year’s Eve without the alcohol, consider some fun alternatives like hot chocolate, apple cider, or sparkling water. Gather with friends, or go solo, and enjoy some indulgent drinks until the ball drops.
You could really spruce things up with a virgin margarita or a milkshake of your choice. While there are a ton of delicious mocktail recipes you can find on the internet, these drinks can be triggering for some recovering from alcohol use disorder, so proceed with caution.
7. Dance Party
This is another option that you could do on your own or with friends or family members. Spend some time during the day making a list of songs to dance to. These are usually upbeat, but they don’t all have to be.
If people are coming over, ask them to text you their top two or three favorite dance jams. Save the songs on Spotify or another music streaming service.
You can even spend some time on YouTube or TikTok looking for new dance moves to try. You might end up starting off 2023 with a new signature move.
If others will be joining you, it’s always a good idea to offer some food and non-alcoholic beverages during dance breaks.
8. Group Meeting
NYE is likely to be a trigger for those in alcohol recovery. Especially if this is your first holiday season without alcohol, you may be tempted to reach for a drink. Even during the holidays, however, it’s important to take things one day at a time.
To avoid the temptation, consider going to an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. Many groups hold “marathon meetings” that last into the night, special parties, or other celebrations to bring in the new year.
Drinking on New Year’s Eve might be widespread, but it comes with an array of risks that many people are choosing to avoid.
CDC data on alcohol use shows that between 2019 and 2020:
- alcohol-related deaths increased by 26%
- alcohol-related deaths increased with age, peaking at 55 to 64 years of age
- for women, alcohol-related deaths increased for every age group over 25
- for men, alcohol-related deaths increased for every age group under 85
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, you’re not alone. To learn more about the full range of addiction treatment options we offer, please call our helpline today.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Alcohol-Induced Death Rates in the U.S., 2019-2020
National Institute of Mental Health — Caring for Your Mental Health
National Institute on Drug Abuse — Where do 12-step or self-help programs fit into drug addiction treatment?