What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “party”?
Maybe it’s picturing an elegant dinner party, with appetizers and expensive bottles of wine. Maybe it’s the frat rager you went to in college with red solo cups littering the floor. Or maybe your mind goes to a grander party, like a birthday celebration or a wedding full of champagne toasts.
Did you notice the common theme there? Booze.
When most people think of parties, they think of alcohol. This holds true for most age groups and demographics across the board. While the kind of beverages may vary, there are usually some involved.
So, what do you do if you want to host a party without alcohol? There are some ways to make sure your guests still have a great time without getting sloshed.
Center Your Party Around an Activity
Many people drink when they feel like they’re not doing anything else, or they feel the need to have a cup in their hands while they’re mingling around a party.
If you have a theme for your party, your guests will be otherwise occupied. You could have a game night with an active game like charades. Now, your guests will be more into playing than refilling their glass.
You could do something similar with an outdoor game day. Have lawn games or even a pool party if you have one.
You could also host your own trivia night, where you’re quizzing your guests and give away fun prizes.
If you’re not a game person, you could have an arts and crafts party where you all paint or do needlepoint.
Whatever you choose, find something that you enjoy, and you think your friends will too.
Choose Another Beverage as the Star
What if you have a coffee-themed party? You could get different varieties of coffee beans and taste test them, or even try your hand at making your own fancy cappuccinos or mochas.
If that sounds like a little too much caffeine for you, you could have a smoothie bar. You could get some unique, exotic fruits and really make some lasting flavors that your guests won’t forget soon.
If it’s a cold winter day, you could have a hot chocolate bar and even whip out your parents’ old fondue set and melt some cheese or chocolate to accompany it.
You could go for a more “civilized” approach with an honest-to-goodness tea party. Have some different flavors and some delicate finger sandwiches and pastries.
Notice how these naturally replace mixed drinks or beer? I mean, how many people are going to be thinking of asking for vodka to add to their Earl Gray?
Be Open About Why You Don’t Want Alcohol
This one depends entirely on the person. Maybe your friends know about your problem with alcohol. In this case, you can explain that you’ve chosen not to include any at your party, and they’ll hopefully be completely supportive of your decision.
Or this might be a family-friendly affair with children present. Explain that you don’t want anyone getting too drunk in front of the kids.
At the same time, maybe you don’t feel comfortable telling everyone you invited about your drinking problem. Maybe you just completed a stay at a non 12 step rehab center, like The Exclusive Hawaii, and you’re not quite ready to tell everyone about your newfound sobriety.
Or you might be cutting the drinks to support a friend of yours that is just starting their sobriety journey. In this case, you might not feel comfortable discussing their personal issues with your other guests.
At the end of the day, it’s fine to simply say, “No need to bring any alcohol to the party. We’re actually going to skip the drinks and have some other tasty drink options instead.”
Choose a Venue/Location Where Alcohol Isn’t Permitted
To get around the sticky subject of a dry party, find somewhere to host your party that doesn’t allow alcohol. You could have your birthday party at a local park that doesn’t allow drinking.
Or you could all head to the beach, where alcohol is forbidden.
With these, you run the risk that one of your friends will smuggle in some alcohol. While this isn’t ideal, at least only a few people will be partaking.
If you’re hosting a large party (like a wedding) find a venue that doesn’t allow alcohol to be served. You can also host your gathering in the morning or early afternoon, so it seems less natural to drink anyway.
Serve Mocktails and Alcohol-Free Drinks
Still want that feeling of everyone sipping on something cold? You can make up some fun mocktails that are delicious and conveniently alcohol-free.
For anyone who isn’t a mocktail person, you could get some alcohol-free beer and offer that as well.
Offer Amazing Food
Perhaps most importantly, serve some delicious food that takes everyone’s minds off of the drinks.
Again, you can work with themes. Have a Mexican-themed feast with tacos, quesadillas, chips and guacamole, and more.
You could have a dessert party, with different pies and cakes and brownies (oh my!)
A make-your-own pizza party always goes down well – just make sure you have a variety of meats, veggies, and cheese to choose from.
You could also do an appetizer party, where everyone brings their favorite hor-dourve. This is also a great option if you don’t have a huge budget to spend on the party.
Keep Your Goal in Mind
Remember why you’re throwing this party in the first place. Is it simply to connect with friends? Maybe even re-connecting with friends after a long time apart during the pandemic.
Or maybe you’re celebrating something – a promotion, a move, an engagement.
Whatever the reason behind your gathering, focus on that above explaining why you’ve chosen to not have alcohol on this day.
Your true friends will quickly dismiss the lack of alcohol and go on to have a great time. And for anyone who complains… you may want to rethink inviting them over the next time around.