Sober Holiday Activities for People in Recovery

The holiday season can be one of the most joyous times of the year. Typically we associate the holiday season with family, good food, gifts, and other holiday traditions. For those of us trying to navigate the holidays and recovery though, the holiday season can be an extremely stressful time filled with anxiety and triggers.

How to Make Your Holiday Happy and Healthy in Recovery

Coping with the holidays in recovery can certainly be a challenge. If you are a person in recovery or have a loved one in recovery you may be asking yourself “What can I do?”.  In order to help those of us in recovery deal with the holidays in recovery we have put together this article as a resource. We will include a list of tips to support recovery during the holidays, a list of tips for avoiding relapse during the holidays, and a list of common triggers during the holiday season and a list of sober holiday activities you can engage in.

Tips to Stay Sober During the Holidays

Here are our top tips for getting through the holidays sober:


  • Stay in contact with someone in your support network. This is probably the most important tip we can offer you!
  • Drive yourself to holiday parties so that if you get uncomfortable you are able to leave easily.
  • Avoid parties with alcohol if in early recovery
  • Say no to events you know put your sobriety at risk. Anyone who loves you would rather have you miss the party than jeopardize your sobriety.
  • Increase your meeting attendance. Lean into whatever program you attend to help you get through the stress.
  • Make a Holiday Relapse Prevention Plan (more on this later)
  • Use the buddy system. Bring another person in recovery with you to the event or party. If that is not possible let someone else in recovery know where you are going and have a set time that they will check in with you.







Holiday Activities in Recovery

As mentioned above it is important to avoid situations that put your sobriety in jeopardy. Here is a list of Sober Holiday Activities to try instead:


  • Host a sober potluck dinner.
  • Organize a secret santa with your sober support network
  • Attend an Alcathon or Narathon. These are typically held on the holiday itself at a local sober clubhouse. There is food, fellowship, and around the clock meetings.
  • Go on a holiday light tour
  • Try some “mocktail recipes”
  • Host a Movie Night
  • Organize a Sober Comedy Night

Formulate a Holiday Relapse Prevention Plan

Creating a holiday relapse prevention plan is crucial to staying clean and sober during the holidays. Although each person’s plan will likely look different we have put together an example holiday relapse prevention plan below:


  1. Avoid parties or events that put your sobriety in jeopardy whenever possible.
  2. Speak to sponsor daily (especially prior to holiday parties or events)
  3. Increase meeting attendance.
  4. Utilize the buddy system at parties wherever possible. If bringing another person in recovery is not possible, let someone know where you are going and have a set time where you will check in with them.
  5. Have an “escape plan”. Have a plan in place so that if you become uncomfortable at an event you know how you will handle it.
  6. Be present and enjoy yourself. While planning is important, being in the moment and enjoying yourself is equally important.


Common Holiday Relapse Triggers in Recovery

What is a trigger? A trigger is any form of stimuli that increases the desire for someone to engage in alcohol or drug consumption, or any other addictive behavior. The holiday season, while joyous for some, can be filled with triggers for others. It is important to note many of these triggers are not exclusive to the holiday season but may be intensified or magnified during this time. Here are our top addiction triggers during the holidays:



The holidays can be a very emotional time for many. It is a time when we are supposed to be happy, with family and friends, and just generally enjoying ourselves. When these expectations aren’t met, it can result in loneliness, sadness, and discontentment. For those of us in recovery these emotions can be extremely dangerous.


Stress is one the most well researched and understood addiction triggers leading to relapse. The holiday season comes with a lot of expectations for all us. Being in recovery means needing to be hyper vigilant about stress and stress management because an overload of stress is one of the most common factors in a relapse.


While seeing family around the holidays can be a great thing for many people, for others it can come with a host of negative emotions. It is always wise to be selective about who you spend your time with. It is ok to avoid family that is unhealthy for you to be around.

Alcohol Consumption

For many people who are not in recovery, the holidays mean increased alcohol consumption. This can be a major trigger for those of us in recovery, especially in early recovery. If you are uncomfortable around alcohol try to avoid it, if not make sure you have a relapse prevention plan in place.


With a little preparation and relapse prevention planning the holidays can be a very enjoyable time for those of us in recovery. We want to wish you a safe, happy, and sober holiday season!


If you are someone you love is struggling with alcoholism or addiction, please reach out to us for a confidential and no obligation consultation with one of our treatment advisors.