An Alcohol free hen party can be great fun

Your friend is getting married soon and she’s wondering if an alcohol free hen party is a good idea. She’s  struggling with alcohol and trying to stay off the booze  until after the wedding. She’s dreading the hen party as she’s worried she will drink and make a fool of herself.  You know that a hen party free from alcohol  would avoid potential problems.

Alcohol free may be essential

The bride to be may be very stressed out, so have a discussion with her to agree if  an alcohol free hen  party is a good idea. Let her know, you will keep her informed, discussing all suggestions and ideas with her. 

Plan, Plan, Plan

A person close to the bride  to be, should meet with her privately to find out the triggers that are likely to cause her to drink. Triggers are things such as smells, activities, people that might cause a problem. Find out more about triggers here.

Know the triggers

Once you know what the bride’s triggers are you can plan to avoid them. Certain people may cause a lot of anxiety and stress to the bride so it might be worthwhile chatting to these people to avoid problems or even leave them off the list entirely.

Avoid stress and anxiety

Planning the hen party well in advance can help reduce  stress and anxiety.  Stress and anxiety are  common triggers for drinking too much, so plan activities that encourage relaxation. Understanding what activities the bride and friends are will  enjoy is important.

Decide  what you’re telling  the guests

Agreeing what the bride will say  about her drinking is important. Is she confident enough to simply state this is an alcohol free hen party as she’s not drinking?

Or is a cover story easier? Perhaps  the bride is taking metronidazoleA+ for bacterial vaginosis which means she can’t drink. This cover story can also be great for a laugh!

Or perhaps it’s a hen party where as well as having fun, all monies saved by not drinking will go to a charity of the Bride’s choice.

The key is to let all the guests know what to expect  in advance of the party and making sure they’re ok with the format.

Or maybe a hen party with a difference ?

You can even take it a step further, by combining the hen party with doing something rewarding and helping people.

For example Access Earth is a free online platform offering mobility information for anyone who needs it. e.g which restaurants have wheelchair access. The hen party guests  can help feed into the data this platform provides. Guests are  broken into teams and set loose to try to win the top spot on the leader-board, by mapping as many places as possible.

Or you can help clean up the coast, paint in a hospital or take part in a dragon board race. More details of lots of  different activities   here.

Make sure hen party attendees are  on board

Some people may complain so this is why being clear on the agreed message is vital.

If the Bride has given permission, explain the Bride is trying to stay off alcohol.  She will find it much more difficult not to drink if other people are drinking.

If  the friends still keep complaining  make it clear  that if people can’t drink for one event, to support their friend, then it is sending a message they do not value the friendship. Perhaps it would be better if they did not attend?

After all if a friendship is only good in alcohol is it a real friendship?  Lucy found many of her friendships were based on alcohol and were toxic.

Alcohol free drinks?

If  money is available and it does not bother the bride you may be able to have a selection of alcohol free drinks available, including mocktails. You can find out more about alcohol free drinks here.

Even more party ideas

  • An old-fashioned sleepover, complete with facials, manicures, pedicures, films , and popcorn. Make sure the bride gets a good night’s sleep as sleep deprivation can be a trigger, especially in the early days.
  • Throw a dinner party at someone’s home. Make it as fancy or simple as you want.
  • If the bride enjoys board games, you could have everyone bring their favourite game to play, complete with popcorn and fizzy drinks. You could also do this with movies.
  • Set up a treasure hunt (like geocaching ).
  • If the weather is likely to be dry, go to a free event. For example, an event  in the National Gallery then picnic in the park.
  • Drive somewhere with a great walking trail and plan a hike together. Pack a special picnic and break the treats out after the hike.
  • There are places where you can make a craft, do-it-yourself style for a relatively small fee. Going home with a piece of pottery or jewellery would be a fun way to remember the night.
  • Escape room type games might be a good bonding experience.
  • Funky Seomra run alcohol free dance events.

Is a fun alcohol free hen party possible?

Is a fun alcohol free hen party possible? Absolutely! It just takes  planning, organising and a little bit of creativity.

Mc D continues to not drink

Mistakes are seen as learning

I decide to continue to not drink and extend my challenge to 365 days and yes I did slip up, make mistakes, but I got up and dusted myself off again.  I realised that making mistakes was normal and were a great way to learn more about myself and also how to safeguard myself from future blowouts.  I became obsessed with all things alcohol free.

I did not drink. I did n’t need it

I listened to podcasts, read as much quit lit as I could get my hands on.  This newfound freedom and perspective on life had given me real zeal to absorb more information and strengthen my resolve. Stopping drinking was not a chore it was a revelation.  I attended many social occasions and didn’t need to drink.  I began to realise that for the first time, alcohol was unnecessary to socialise.  In fact my confidence in myself continued to grow.

I’m still at it

I’m still at it now.  I have joined other sites such as Soberful which is run by two addiction specialists Veronica Valli and Chip Somers who have years of combined experience and were instrumental in getting Russell Brand sober.  The insights they have to addiction are extremely interesting and insightful and have a weekly podcast that I listen to.

Safe places

Another is Soberistas a website started by single mum Lucy Rocca after she gave up drinking and wanted to create a safe place to meet likeminded people with the shared interest of stopping alcohol.

I find a sense of community

My journey continues.  I recently started attending AA.   I realise that it’s not for everybody but with my newfound confidence and willingness to try things with an open mind.  I take what I agree with and leave the rest and have been finding a sense of community in it.

I can never say I will not drink again, it’s a sneaky and insidious drug and I will continue to work on my sobriety and the lease of life it has given me.

What do I think of alcohol now?

What do I think of alcohol now?  I think it just a socially acceptable drug.  We have been programmed to think that alcohol is the answer to life’s problems and society has been hoodwinked by the drinks industry for too long. 

Go for it, it may change your life

It’s a nasty destructive poison that ruins people’s physical and mental health.  Taking that leap of faith and giving up the sauce has got to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I don’t know what the future holds but for me I will looking forward to it alcohol free.  If you’re curious to take a break from alcohol.  Go for it – it may just change your life.

Editor’s note

Mc D approach to AA is spot on. He’s used it to find a sense of community and people he has something in common with. He just takes what he agrees with. He does not accept the AA view, that if he fails it’s him that fails. He does not blame himself, but sees drinking when he does not want to as an opportunity to learn. For a review of AA see here  

If you would like a different type of community try Smart Recovery who focus on not drinking but do not refer to a higher power.

Low alcohol drinks can help reduce your drinking

We previously looked at using low alcohol drinks in this post here. In this post, we’ll look at some of the low alcohol drinks actually available.

As regular readers will know we’re big fans of each person understanding and picking the right approach for them. So whether low alcohol drinks will work for you will depend on your individual health, lifestyle, work and social factors. Your own feelings  and enthusiasm for change are also really important.

So whether cutting out all drinks with alcohol or drinking low alcohol drinks is right for you is a decision only you can make.You might find these questions here helpful for making your decision.

Here’s a selection of some of the low alcohol drinks available


Alcohol free wines

First up is Torres Natureo White which has 0.5% ABV 

Price is €7.95 – Available at O’Briens, SuperValu , Tesco

Gaby served this wine to her friends without telling them it had no alcohol and they thought it was lovely. She says it is

Fruity and mild, it has flavours of nectarine, yellow plum and a floral touch”

Gaby also reviews a range of low alcohol wines in her very interesting post here. These include

  • Flight Sauvignon Blanc, Brancott Estate
  • Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato
  • Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett
  • G.D.Vajra Moscato d’Asti 2015

Gaby also tells you how much these wines cost and where you can buy them, so well worthwhile looking at her post here.


Aldi Featherweight range

Aldil launched the  Featherweight range which include a choice of Pinot Grigio or White Zinfandel in Irish stores in January. These wines retail for just €4.49 and have half the calories of other wines. Unfortunately they’ve just been withdrawn, I’m not sure why.


Alcohol free Beers

Alcohol free beers have come a long way. New beers are launching regularly. However many of them are not available in Ireland. Some beers still taste awful and most people believe they don’t taste like the real thing. But if you’re under pressure to be seen drinking they might be an option. I like  alcohol free Erdinger(alkoholfrei ) but it is very gassy so I can never drink more than one.

Some of the newer beers are getting better reviews.

Heineken recently launched the Heineken 0.0 which has no alcohol.

Also launched recently is a lager- Pure Brew from Diageo which has 0.05% volume. They claim

In independent taste tests, over 70 per cent of people were surprised to discover that they were trying a non-alcoholic beer after tasting it.”

The recommended pub price is €3.50 a bottle.


 Other low  alcohol drinks

If you can’t find any low alcohol drink that you like, you might want to try the Alcohol Free shop. They’re getting great reviews online. They sell a wide range of low alcohol drinks including beers, wines, spirits and cocktails. They ship to Ireland with a minimum order of 6 bottles which can be all different. They’ve  put together mixed cases so you don’t even have to choose. Click here for their website.


Low alcohol drinks can be a good option

There is certainly still some way to go before the range of alcohol free drinks matches their alcohol versions.  In England there’s a much wider range available with lower prices.

However the newer drinks are worth trying and can be a useful part of your tool kit for reducing your drinking.

If you’d like to find out more about reducing alcohol harm please click here.

7 reasons why Dry January is worth trying

In England, a massive 5 million people take part in Dry January. It’s where people give up drink for the month of January and give the money they save to charity.

Benefits include

1.Weight loss

We’ve written previously about the calories in alcohol. If you give up alcohol and don’t eat more food you will lose weight.


2.Healthier eating

When we drink we have more cravings – those late night takeaways seem irresistible. Not drinking means less crisps in the pub, less takeaways and an opportunity to understand what foods we really like.


3.Better sleep

Alcohol disrupts your sleep as we describe here. No alcohol means better sleep.


4.You’ll save money

Dry January means you’re not spending money on drink. You don’t have to donate the money you save to charity, you could spend it on a nice treat for yourself.


5.Your mood will improve

Alcohol acts as a depressant for many people.  If this is you, then giving up alcohol will help you feel happier.


6.Many health problems will improve

Researchers found that people giving up the drink for dry January had lower blood pressure and cholesterol. But very often over worked doctors don’t have time to give advice on drinking.

Lucy wrote how health care professionals  ignored the impact of alcohol on her health.

My own experience was doctors did n’t tell me  how medication use can be impacted by alcohol.

So if you have existing health problems, you may be surprised how they improve  by giving up alcohol for a month.


7.Pressing the pause button can help

Dry January, allows us to take a break and actually see what life is like without alcohol. We can see whether life is better without alcohol. Alternatively we may begin to realise that alcohol is a big part of our life and maybe we have a problem with alcohol. Either way doing Dry January can help us gain greater understanding of our drinking.


Planning how you manage dry January is vital

Planning Dry January is essential. Here are some tips that can help.

Top tips for managing alcohol cravings

How to fill the bottle shaped hole

Exercise can help

Why people fail the challenge

Also make sure you don’t have a physical dependence on alcohol. You can find out more about physical dependence  here

Padraig O Moran also has some good tips. He describes how social events can be a real challenge, when we’re not drinking. One of his good tips is if you‘re dreading an event because you won’t be drinking then remember

“If it’s no good without alcohol, then it’s no good”


So it’s not too late to try Dry January. You can download the free dry January app here.

My family drink too much so I stopped

I was never a heavy drinker. I did not drink too much. Or at least like us all, I did not  consider myself to have a problem with alcohol.


My Father was a heavy drinker

My father was a heavy drinker, although, he never admitted it. He drank occasionally, as he liked to put it. Every Sunday. Sometimes during the week after a long and tough day at work. He drank at every holiday and celebration like New Year’s Eve, Christmas and Hanukah. Not that we as a family were religious at all.


Every social occasion was an excuse to drink

My Father drank at every birthday of every friend.  Every anniversary, after a trip to a theatre or a cinema.He drank  during his  day off, when watching TV or going out with friends.  So basically he drank almost every 2-3 days. It was always a matter of social drinking.  Later in his life  my Father discovered some health problems associated with his drinking habits  and had to make a conscious choice to stop.


My Grandfather was worse

My Father’s Father, my grandfather was worse. He drank every day after work and during the whole day at weekends. He worked as a craftsman at a large factory.  He had hands worth gold as they said. He died at 55, his heart just stopped.


I was raised in alcohol

Whenever any of us kids had birthdays, the parents would organise cake, some snacks and alcohol free champagne. The alcohol environment is the environment I was raised in. Alcohol was and is in some cases  still  associated with adulthood. It’s being cool, being a grown-up. It is the norm in Western society, and it is definitely a norm in Irish society, where I now live.


I made a decision

So there came a time when I thought about starting a family.  I realised that not I nor the history of my own family will be able to set a good example.  Something had to change. So I made a decision. It was not a New Year’s resolution or a Monday when I stopped drinking. It just kind of happened. I started saying no. It felt easy, logical and good.


By saying no to alcohol, I said yes to me

And by saying no to alcohol I said yes to me. Yes to raising my children in an alcohol free environment, being a positive Mother and leading by example.


Editor’s Note

If you would like to know whether your drinking could be causing you problems, try out our free Sofun course.


I feared being known as No Craic, if I stopped drinking

One of the scariest things for me as I cut down on my alcohol consumption was my concern for what others would think. Would I be No Craic  if I gave up drinking?


No one got hurt, but I needed help

In February of 2015, I had a frightening experience while under the influence of alcohol. I was dangerously unstoppable and a hazard to myself and others. Thankfully, no one got hurt that night and I was advised to seek help. Following this, I made a decision to reduce my intake of alcohol. To begin with, I cut it out completely.


I began to waiver

Initially, it was not so difficult as I wasn’t overly enthused about socialising. My mood was low and I had anxiety. It wasn’t until my appetite for a social life began to return that I felt the confidence in my decision begin to waiver.


I feared being known as no craic

Being a sensitively natured person, I often took it to heart when questioned about not drinking.  I feared being known as no craic. Frequently, I would stress over whether my friends would lose interest in me. These fears caused waves of uncertainty. It wasn’t until I started to feel and see the advantages of my decision that my resolve began to strengthen.  The more I learnt about myself and the world in those times that I would have been drinking, the stronger I felt about my choice.


My friends and family did support me

I’ve been doing a variety of things with my new spare time and money, such as hill walking, pottery, learning Irish, sewing and running – I even tried boxing! These excursions have empowered me to share the advantages of my experience with friends and family, who have collectively been an amazing wealth of support.


I am now flourishing

With a clear mind I was able to examine my confidence, strength and emotional resilience and pin point what I needed to develop in myself as a flourishing, young woman. I’ve realised not  drinking does not mean I am No Craic.


Editor’s Note

If you would like to find out your pros and cons of drinking try out Janus our short course which will help make  your decision easier.

You’re pregnant, my friend screamed when I stopped drinking

I stopped drinking

I stopped drinking around April of this year. Apart from the big lifestyle change itself, one of the toughest aspects of the whole process was that people noticed… And wanted answers.


Are you pregnant?

“Are you pregnant!?!?”  One friend shrieked, in a voice that was much too loud for the restaurant we were in.  Others did the awkward ‘ohhh‘ followed by a tentative inquiry as to why. My solution?  It was to be as honest or vague as I felt my relationship with that person warranted. Overall though, some small degree of honest communication usually worked, even if it was just “Health Reasons.”


My best friends became non-alcoholic drinks

Social circles do get smaller when you quit the drink, and I dealt with this by offering other ways of keeping those bonds.  My best friend became non-alcoholic drinks during this period. There’s a sense of inclusion to drinking, and with non-alcoholic ciders, I could sit around with my friends while they’ve got their wine.


I’m not throwing off the vibe of the group

The best part? I still feel like I’m not throwing off the vibe of the group by being the only one without ‘a drink’.  But this can make it easy to cheat, I devised a new strategy. In some cases, offering alternative ways to socialise showed that I was interested in seeing these friends, but in a way we could all enjoy. I’m happy to report that most of them responded positively to it.


Good people were supportive

All in all, I found that people were wonderfully willing to accept and support me.  And if some were pushy or unsupportive instead, I sadly had to realise that they were not the best people to have around me at the time.

….And I’m pretty sure the wait staff in that restaurant still think I’m pregnant.



If you’d like to find out more about non-alcoholic drinks please click here.

Driving lessons from a drunk woman

Was my true destiny to die a  drunk woman? 

When I thought about how I would feel, act, look and behave when I quit being a drunk woman, there was always some joy, but a lot of FEAR. Most of those dark thoughts included;

  • Was my true destiny to die a  drunk woman?
  • Could I ever feel joy again?
  • What if I was a real addict?
  • How would I handle my pain without alcohol?
  • Would I know how to become part of the real world?
  • Would I fit in again?
  • Had I become too broken to be normal?


My excuses protected me

Little did I know at the time that they were my excuses. I kept all those worries and negative feelings deep inside because they protected me. They held back the pain and humiliation of failure. I spent so much time, so much energy and failed so many times.  I found it hard not to blame ME for continuing to drink.


I wasn’t normal

I find that many, many, women do this. It’s often because our energies are   focused on the wrong direction. I spent years chasing recovery when there is no such thing. How can you “recover” from your life experiences, you don’t, you learn from them. For me, the lesson was I that I kept jumping about and clutching to the idea that I wasn’t normal and needed to learn to live. I thought I would find it in places where everyone else was like me. Where I would be given a badge to wear that pronounced who I was, and where there was a leader that gave us instruction from a book on how to live a great life.

For me, it couldn’t have been more wrong……


Sitting in the driver seat

There came a time in my life when I had to take the steering wheel. I was in the driving seat and I had three choices

1) Crash and burn.

2) Let someone else drive even if they brought me somewhere I didn’t want to be.

3) Take the wheel and trust myself.

Well, I had tried the first two, and they caused me pain. I had to decide now if the pain of driving myself was going to be more or less painful that the first two.

I have discovered that since I took the wheel, I am driving down a busy road. I share the road with many people. Most are wonderful, kind, considerate road users, some are cranky, moody people, rushing to get to the end of the journey. On the rare occasion, you might come across the nasty, cruel dangerous driver who has no regard for other road users.


It’s up to you to decide

We are all stopping a different “rest stops.” But the majority of us are moving in the same direction. Each rest stop brings a new challenge; some challenges require many people to come together to solve problems, but most are solo challenges. It’s up to you to decide what to do with them. They even have titles like;

  • Who are you?
  • What’s your purpose?
  • What makes you happy?

The list is endless so far…..But great fun.


I had the power all along

Being in the driving seat is scary, but fun. It’s the “roller coaster” kind of scary and fun. As you get more experienced on the road, you can start to make friends. Many people gravitate to the confident, more experienced drivers because they want to learn from them.

But I can assure you that you were born to drive!  You don’t have to be a drunk woman. You have control over your thoughts; you can decide your next move. You have the power to do it.


Don’t hang out with learner drivers at the rest stops

If you want my advice, be kind to learner drivers and give them a lot of space and encouragement but don’t hang out with them at the rest stops. They will unknowingly prevent you from getting back behind the wheel, and you won’t move forward. Don’t worry too much about other road users; they are just as scared of crashing as you are. Stop at as many rest stops as possible, stretch your legs, meet a few other road users, have a healthy snack and fill up your car.

I have no idea what the road ahead is like, so I can’t help you there. I am however enjoying the ride, loving the experience and getting more confident that my next stop isn’t my last!

So if you’re thinking about changing your destination why sign up for our weekly emails to help you navigate your journey?

Was I boring without booze?

For me, a huge part of the difficulty in getting my head around giving up alcohol for good was overcoming the idea I had that being teetotal wasn’t very cool. I believed I was boring without booze. Call me shallow for worrying about such a thing, but understanding whom we are, in and amongst a sea of different personalities and working out what makes each of us as individuals tick, is the key (in my opinion) to forever sobriety. It’s about discovering whatever works, for YOU.


My heroes were people who sang about struggles

I always defined myself by my hedonism prior to giving up alcohol. Many of my heroes in music and film as I was growing up were drug addicts and alcoholics, struggling with this addiction or that. The music I listened to (and still do) was/is peppered with references to heroin addiction or booze, withdrawals and lyrics that generally denote major inner turmoil.


Was I boring without booze?

When I decided to give up booze, I was filled with dread that I would become…(wait for it, the dreaded word!) BORING! How would I be able to maintain the persona I had spent so much of my life creating, now that I’d dropped the several-times-a-week alcohol binges?


I was an almighty pain in the backside

Well the answer is, I couldn’t, which is no bad thing because if you were to ask many of the people who’ve known me both as a drinker and since I stopped, they would most likely tell you that I was an almighty pain in the backside with the wine in me, and that since knocking it on the head, I am not boring without booze, just normal and a lot nicer.


I only cared about where the next drink was coming from

With regards to the ‘cool’ element of boozy living and whether being a non-drinker can ever bring about that trait, here’s what I think about it all now; there’s nothing cool about being a selfish drunk who walks all over people and only cares about where the next glass is coming from. It’s a struggle and a battle and damn hard work giving up booze, and making it through all of that is a million times cooler than giving in to an addiction.


My favourite inspiration is Anthony Kiedis of RHCP

And finally, I seek inspiration from some ‘cool’ people who are sober, and I use them as my role models. My most favourite of these is Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Listening to this band works for me every time I feel a sense of ‘I’m just a boring so-and-so who doesn’t drink,’ coming on, and even if it’s imaginary, I’m going through it all with Anthony Kiedis, which makes it totally cool in my book.”


Editors Note

What music inspires you?

Some people find putting together a playlist of their favourite inspiring music really helpful in reducing thier drinking. We’d love to hear your views in the comments below.