Navigating a sober festive season can be tricky, especially if it’s your first time. There’s a perception that imbibing is the path to ‘getting into the Christmas spirit’, and alcohol is often woven into many Christmas Day traditions. But a different way of thinking about Christmas is one of mindfulness – marking the day with intention, staying present to fully enjoy the experience, and being clear-minded without any detrimental effects for days after. This time of year should be about a much-deserved break, rather than a two-day hangover, so we’ve put together a guide with some advice on how to approach the day and what you can do to ensure it is a success.
Christmas is a joyous time, but it can also be overwhelming! You’re likely feeling stressed from preparations, presents and tying up last-minute loose ends at work, and you might even be anxious about family interactions and certain conversations that might arise over the dinner table. On the morning of big celebration days, it can be helpful to take some time to check in with yourself, even if you can only spare 5–10 minutes. Do a short meditation, take some deep breaths and set your intention for how you’d like to behave during the day, reminding yourself that you are in control of your actions and reactions.
If your intention includes staying sober for the celebration and you’re worried you may struggle, we recommend writing a list of the reasons why you have made this choice. Note down how staying sober makes you feel, what it means to your future self, and how committed you are. Having these reasons front-of-mind can also help you feel well equipped to answer people who may question why you are not drinking. Confidently stating your case should appease any naysayers, and you may even inspire them to try it themselves.
Big, festive days like Christmas can bring with them some guilt about overindulging in foods we normally wouldn’t. In truth, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with treating ourselves on special occasions, and it doesn’t have to derail your efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle. To ensure you enjoy the indulgence rather than quickly spinning into a food coma and feeling ill, practice eating mindfully and slowly. This means savouring each mouthful by chewing it at least ten times, and placing your utensils down between bites to talk, laugh and enjoy the entire experience.
If you’re keen to make an effort to include some extra vegetables in your Christmas meals to balance things out, add in some fresh salads as sides. You can’t go past a mango and avocado salad on an Aussie summer's day; an heirloom tomato salad is beautiful and colourful; and a wild rice salad can be packed full of baby spinach and fresh herbs. Or opt for a Christmas nut roast instead of roast meat as the hero of your meal. There are plenty of recipes available online that are easy to prepare, utilising mushrooms, nuts, breadcrumbs and spices to create a deliciously flavourful main course. For dessert, it’s easy to still enjoy a classic Christmas pudding even if you’re going alcohol free. This recipe eliminates brandy and uses a few clever substitutions for a result that tastes strikingly similar.
The most important key to having a successful alcohol-free Christmas is to be prepared. We won’t lie – when there’s only water or soft drink on offer for those abstaining from alcohol on special occasions, it can make you feel like you’re missing out. In fact, this was a big part of why we started ClearMind over 25 years ago – so that we could have something delicious and familiar to drink over meals, with company, or when we were celebrating. With our range now covering non-alcoholic wines, beers and spirits, it’s easy to stock up on a mix of options so you can join in the libations without feeling like you’re missing a thing.
Big wine lovers? Our Christmas Party Pack contains two bottles of sparkling, three bottles of white wine and one of rosé making it ideal for a warm Christmas spent outside on the deck, paired with seafood and appetisers. Or, if Christmas cocktails are a tradition with your loved ones, grab some of our non-alcoholic spirit alternatives so you too can mix up some creative concoctions. Morning mimosas? You can pop a cork like the rest of the gang with our sparkling wine options.
And if you’re still feeling a little FOMO, try to remember what really makes the festive season special. It’s not alcohol – it’s spending time with loved ones, the opportunity to take a break from busy life, and the joy of giving and receiving gifts.
For all the build-up, actual Christmas events can pass by in a flurry, and suddenly be over for another year. Making an extra effort to use the time as a way to connect with loved ones will be something you look back on with gratitude. Step away from your phone, stay off social media and try to be present, soaking up special moments with people you may not see that often. Try to agree to disagree, rather than getting into arguments and saying things you may regret, and always remember to treat others the way you want to be treated.
If there’s a tendency for your celebration to focus heavily on sitting around drinking and you’d rather make some new memories, you could take the initiative to get everyone involved in an afternoon activity. Whether it’s a game of backyard cricket, a swim in the pool, or a game of charades, it will be a fun bonding experience and may even become a new tradition!
Putting into practice even a few of these tips should help you have the mindful festive season you’re hoping for, full of joy, merriness and lots of delicious eating and drinking.