Taking action on your Christmas drinking triggers

Last week we wrote about identifying your Christmas drinking triggers, in this post we talk about taking action on Christmas drinking triggers.

As regular readers, will know it’s all  about the  planning.

Why is planning so important?

In our alcohol obsessed culture where drink is everywhere it’s very easy to drink too much. So it takes effort and advance planning to make sure we’re don’t get sucked down into the glug glug of boozy Christmas drinking.

Everybody’s different so what works for one person may not work for another. So thinking about what will work for you is really important.  Once you know what’s going to be  your Christmas drinking triggers you can take action. You might find these tips helpful.


Create an advent calendar

Creating an advent calendar covering those days which are most stressful for you can be useful. Lidl sell a range for just €4.99  were  you fill each day yourself. You can  use this to write little notes or reminders to yourself for different days. Or maybe even put in little gifts to help you stay focused.

To get you started, here‘s a calendar we came across that many people liked. It focuses on happiness.

christmas drinking triggers


Office Christmas parties

These can be a real killer as a Christmas drinking trigger. Everybody out to have fun, relax and in many workplaces there’s a free bar.  Not drinking means you can be seen as a real killjoy.

One way to avoid this pressure is to ring the venue in advance and see will they be serving no or low alcohol drinks. These can often look like the real thing. So you  look like you’re drinking when you’re not actually drinking.  Sneaky huh! For suggestions on low alcohol drinks see this post.

For even more tips on office parties click  here.


Family events can be real Christmas drinking triggers

If you’re part of a family where socialising consists  entirely of sitting around drinking, this can be very tough. It’s easier to take part then sit watching as the conversation gets more and more boring as people start slurring their words.

Also there’s usually one toxic family member present. I’ve heard one woman say we’re all encouraged to cut toxic people out of our lives, so why do we all feel the need to meet up with toxic family members at Christmas? It’s strange all right. So very important to keep our expectations of enjoying toxic family events low!

Here’s a few tips for family events we’ve heard you might find useful.


Arriving late

Not really good manners, but when the event is going to be a long drinking session, arriving late means you cut the amount of drinking time you spend there. And managing your drinking is much more important.


Bring any kids in the event for a short walk in the fresh air

I know we’ve been minding kids all year, so going for a walk in the cold, does not sound appealing. But I’ve found even a little break from the event does wonders.  It freshens me up, the kids can be really funny and I always go back in better humour. The other adults always appreciate you more as well.

(Did anyone see the wonderful Toy Show, I’d love a walk and  chat with so many of those lovely kids in particular Scott and Grace)


Make a bingo card

In Club Soda, one lady suggested making a bingo card. The bingo card has a range of different tasks on it. Like count the number of people at an event, or talk to someone who is not drinking. Or count the number of times someone mentions a particular word or phrase. Crossing off the bingo card when no one was watching made the event much more interesting.


Line up a friend

So  you know an event is really going to be full of   Christmas drinking triggers. For example, you’re going to feel really lonely in that crowded room because you’re the only one not drinking. Your sister in law will be making snide comments about your kids, while the brother boasts on and on about his new car.  So plan ahead and line up a friend that you can text or WhatsApp when you go to the bathroom. That way you can get a bit of moral support to help with  those lonely feelings.


Christmas is not perfect

So make your plans, but remember despite all the pressure around us to have the picture perfect Christmas it really is just another few days and we don’t have to be perfect or even to actually enjoy it!

What are your triggers for the Christmas drinking season?

Yep, that time of the year again, the Christmas drinking season is on us. When you’re trying to reduce your drinking or even not drink at all, it can be a very tough time.


Christmas is not a happy time for everyone

Memories of past Christmases can make life difficult. Loved ones that are now gone. For me, Christmas means the day services are closed. So I’ll be spending more time looking after my Mother who has Alzheimer’s and needs 24 hour care. I love her dearly but after eight years of care it takes a toll. For the first time ever, my daughter won’t be home from England, so can’t even enjoy her company. So I’m definitely not looking forward to Christmas and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.


What does Christmas mean to you?

I find not pretending Christmas is a happy time really helps. The times when I do meet up with friends, or go out with my other daughter are more enjoyable because they know how I feel and we don’t pretend. So it’s useful to understand for yourself what does Christmas mean for you and not pretend it’s a happy time if that’s not right for you.


Are triggers an issue?

We’ve heard from many people who say the Christmas drinking season is the toughest time to control their drinking. All that pressure to be happy, all the parties and meeting ups. The feeling that if you don’t drink you’re an outsider and weirdo.

So identifying your specific triggers for the Christmas drinking season is really helpful


What are your triggers?

What are your specific triggers?  Could it be work Christmas parties, or is it particular family members, or putting up the Christmas tree. Even specific Christmas decorations can be triggering. I always find a Christmas decoration with all our names painted on it makes me feels really sad. I can’t bring myself to throw it away. So now I just put it in a separate box which I never open.

Is spending too much time with family a trigger? Or maybe tiredness after too many late nights or not sticking to your usual daily routine.


Start planning for the Christmas drinking season

So write down all your likely triggers by the 1st of December and then you can start planning how you are going to deal with them. That way you get to control your drinking and actually enjoy the Christmas drinking season.

In the next post, we’ll give some tips on dealing with these triggers.

You can also see more advice on Christmas drinking here.

Planning Christmas drinking prevents that sinking feeling

It’s that time of the year again when Christmas drinking takes off

All the Christmas ads are already appearing on TV.  The junk mail coming in the door with special offers on Christmas drinks. The invites to sessions and office Christmas parties. All of us trying to control our drinking can find the pressure to take part in Christmas drinking tough.

We’re much more likely to wake up with that sinking feeling of yet another hangover.

Fail to plan and prepare to fail

As Roy Keane famously said

“Fail to plan and prepare to fail”

So our Christmas job list should always include a task to plan how we’re going to manage our Christmas drinking.

What works for you?

A big problem is the perception there is only one right way to control our drinking that works for everybody. So not drinking at all seems to be the only option. That can work for some people.

For other people the pressure of not drinking means they actually end up giving in. Then they drink too much and end up with a hangover.

The only right way is the way that works for you personally

This is different for everybody so we need to understand what works for us.

Good questions to ask are

Should I cut out Christmas drinking totally or can I drink a little?

When am I most likely to drink too much?

Who am I with when I drink too much or am I drinking on my own?

How do I feel when I start drinking too much?

When I’ve controlled my drinking in the past what did I do?

You might find our course Janus useful if you’re finding it difficult to decide.

Decide what you’re going to do

Once you’ve decided whether you are going to drink or not, start planning exactly what you’re doing to do. For example

  • Practise saying no
  • Have one drink and then a glass of water
  • Have a drink that looks alcoholic but is n’t. e.g. alcohol free wines (check out with the venue in advance if they have these)
  • Stick to alcohol drinks with low levels of alcohol
  • Organise a supportive friend to ring you at the Christmas party at a set time saying your child/pet is sick so you have to go
  • Bring your car with you if you know you won’t drink and drive (plan your exit though if you don’t want to drive boozy pals home)
  • Only have alcohol free drinks in your house
  • Plan some enjoyable alcohol free activities with supportive pals

Focus on the positives

Because we’re brainwashed by advertising into thinking alcohol makes us happy. It can be a really difficult time with all that Christmas drinking.

So every day it’s really important to take five minutes every day to think about the positives of controlling your drinking.

Don’t think about it in a negative way as that does not work as well.

e.g. It’s better to think

“I’m going to really enjoy catching up on the soaps in peace and quiet tomorrow morning”

Rather then

“I don’t want to have a hangover in the morning”

Brainwash yourself into understanding you’re not the problem

As we’ve previously written we’re all brainwashed into thinking drinking is normal. So we need to hear opposite views.

I find short videos poking fun at our drink culture really help me to realise I’m not the only one who does not enjoy drinking.

Good videos included

The Irish intervention


I don’t drink poison

Every time I watch these, they really make me laugh. They also make me realise just how mad our drinking culture is.

So plan your approach to Christmas drinking and avoid that stinking feeling.

For more tips on Christmas drinking click here