Love them or hate them, employee parties are a mandatory, unavoidable part of the holiday season. The stress that sometimes surrounds a holiday work party can be magnified if you are in recovery or maintaining a sober lifestyle. The party is a good chance to strengthen professional connections outside of the office setting, but the possibility of being around alcohol and in a stressful environment may pose a threat. Here, we will look at a few ideas for how to stay sober at your holiday work party and still have fun while you’re there.
Make a Plan to Stay Sober at Your Holiday Work Party
This approach may take a bit of the spontaneity out of the evening, but the effort will reap great rewards. You should think everything through:
Set Boundaries Ahead of Time
If you know you have bad influences in your office, it’s a good idea to be proactive and work out your boundaries before stressful run-ins or events occur. You probably already know the people in your workplace that are a bad influence on you.
Keep a list (can be physical or one committed to memory) so that once you show up, you know whom you should just give a polite “hello” and then move on. Identify whom you should avoid altogether; whom you can only handle in small doses; and, how long you can be around each type of person.
It might also be good to have set dialogue for how to ask for space or set the necessary boundary. If you’re having trouble coming up with the right words, a therapist might be really helpful with this process
Focus on Support
When it comes to holiday gatherings, it’s a good idea to build a support system of people you know you can safely turn to; if you start to stress out, reach out to your support system and let them know you need to rely on their help to carry you through the tensions.
This can be as simple as enlisting a close friend or co-worker you trust. Maybe you know of another co-worker who is also in recovery. Maybe there is a pregnant co-worker who isn’t able to drink. Or, maybe just a co-worker who just doesn’t drink at all whom you feel comfortable around.
If you are pro-active you can find these allies and count on them if you begin to feel uncomfortable at the party.
Find Alternate Activities
You could suggest games and activities for the actual party so there is something there to entertain the people who don’t wish to drink.
Ugly Sweater Contest
Many companies have entire Ugly Sweater Parties; if your affair is a big to-do, you could suggest incorporating an ugly sweater contest into the night’s events. This will give and the rest of your co-workers something else to focus on besides drinking and getting rowdy. Ugly sweaters are also a great conversation piece and can keep people occupied during any lulls that may happen outside of food and drink.
If your party is a potluck, pick a dish that has an interesting backstory or a quirky holiday tradition behind it. You can always focus on the story your food offers and telling this story will lend itself to interesting conversations and interactions that will keep you engaged in the party without relying on drinks and possibly compromising your sobriety.
Get Individualized Tools to Stay Sober at Your Holiday Work Party
Whether it is the holiday season or not, staying sober can be a challenge and you should know that there is no shame in that. If you or someone you know is having a hard time this holiday season, with all the additional stress that can surface during this time of the year, we encourage you to reach out to us here at Ocean Hills Recovery. We are happy to work with you to reboot your efforts or just keep you strong in your current path. Give us a call today.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.