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Teetotally! (A guide to having fun at parties while sober)

Teetotally! (A guide to having fun at parties while sober)

I’m what, in the old timey days, people would call a “teetotaler” and in this here post I wanna take a little time to outline a few ways to have a fun(ish) time at a booze-filled party if you’re a non-drinker like me.

So, what do you do if you want to attend a party every couple of months with your friends or significant other, but you don’t drink? If you want to turn your potential cranky time into a fun(ish) time, you gotta be proactive, baby! Follow these simple rules and you too can start having a “sort of okay, sometimes even really good” time at parties!

1. It’s really important to bring some awesome non-alcoholic beverages with you. I don’t know how many parties I’ve been to where my only options are water, flat Coke, or RedBull, all bought as mixers. Even though the host probably didn’t think anything of it, the fact that there’s nothing there for you to drink can leave you feeling a little like a non-entity. “Oh, you don’t drink??? Well, hey, there’s some tap water in the faucet! Knock yourself out!”.  Grrr. So, instead of showing up empty-handed and risking starting your night off on a bad note, be sure to drop by a store beforehand for some tasty delights. There are a ton of craft soda makers churning out interesting sodas these days and they’re a lot more fun to drink than flat Coke. Some of my favorite craft soda brands include Dry Soda and Boylan. I’d also like to try Gus one of these days.

2. Stay close to the people who are slowly nursing their drinks and interspersing them with a glass of water or two, not the people downing shots. If you’re a teetotaler at a party, someone who has had 3 or 4 beers over the course of a few hours is a lot more fun to talk to than someone who’s loaded or even really tipsy. Talking to a drunk person is funny the first few times you do it but it’s always so refreshing to have a real conversation with someone at a party. I’ve been lucky in that I almost always seem to be able to have a great conversation with a couple of people each time I venture out into the land of “scheduled fun”, and I owe that mainly to great friends and loved ones who don’t seem to drink to excess all the time.

3. This one is hard to do unless you’re planning the party, but I love it when the party host offers something else to do besides standing around drinking and playing the occasional drinking game. Even among my friends who like to drink, the drinking game thing gets old by about age 25. I know the host might be thinking that everyone will be well lubricated and therefore having a blast, but we could all be having a blast if there was something more to do than drink and then giggle over drinking some more while playing some drinking game. It could be Charades, Wii, anything!

4. I know this guide is about parties, but if you aren’t a drinker or just don’t like parties all that much, it might also be a good idea to ask those friends that you only see at parties if they want to hang out in other ways every so often. Drinkers may feel like drinking isn’t the main focus of most parties and may feel like it’s all about socializing, but in truth, socializing is done all the time without alcohol. The drinks are there for a reason. Parties with drinkin’ are about socializing with alcohol. There’s a reason nobody brings food or desserts or anything other than alcohol as a gift to the host. It’s what the night is about. As any teetotaler notices, a lot of people at parties talk a great deal about drinking and what their particular drink tastes like, how toasted they got last week and what the beverage they had last night tasted like way more than they think they do. And it’s fine because they’re enjoying talking about a shared interest with each other.

But just like sitting among a group of model train enthusiasts talking about how to build the perfect model  train route in your garage would probably be dead boring to a non-model train enthusiast (especially if it was culturally and socially expected to be really interested in model trains and to work on them every weekend because model trains are considered so super fun and hardcore), this kind of talk can make a party even more uncomfortable for sober friends. So, if you’re a teetotaler, be proactive! Instead of only hanging out with folks in party circumstances where the whole point is to drink at least a little (and often a lot), you could suggest getting together every once in a while with those same folks for a sober activity like dinner or hiking or seeing a film together. Anything. It could be fun and could lead to all sorts of adventures that might be a little more stimulating for both parties.

5. Now, this one is important. It can be hard to remember this when you’re perfectly sober and trying not to roll your eyes at all the drunken hijinks going on around you, but keep in mind that it can be very easy for drinkers to feel judged by non-drinkers. Especially when you’re at an activity that’s mostly about drinking and you’re standing in the corner looking cranky because you aren’t in the same head space as most everyone else. Most of the time, what you feel as awkwardness and boredom comes off as judgement. And just like you don’t like it when people give you grief and judge you for abstaining, drinkers don’t like to feel judged for enjoying some beverages at a party. I know that for myself, sometimes my intense aversion to parties of any kind (alcohol or no) and my natural inclination towards introversion, comes across as judgement towards others even if my intention isn’t anything of the kind. Not cool for anyone involved.

So, go out there with some soft drinks in hand and try…try…TRY to have fun! Talk to some still perfectly coherent people who happen to be imbibing a little! Try to start up a game of charades! See if your friends want to get together for sober adventures! Don’t keep that cranky expression on your face all night! (At least not until the drunk girl you just met barfs on your shoes).

Oh, and don’t forget to take embarrassing photos. Anyone OK with getting wasted in the age of smart phones is practically begging for it.

Tawnya (14 Posts)

Tawnya lives in Salt Lake City, spending her days trying to figure out how to preserve digital data and her nights watching Star Trek: Voyager with her cute husband and two cats. She's also busy gardening, learning to cook fancy meals, and delving into the mysteries of unwanted facial hair removal.


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