The silly season is well underway, and for those of you who are pregnant or thinking of giving drinking a miss for a while, it's only going to get harder over the next few weeks.
The calendar is already jam packed with function after function, family gatherings and overdue catch-ups, all featuring lots of booze.
When my wife was pregnant we adopted many tactics to cope with such social events. I spent a lot of time honing these skills to a fine art while undertaking my Pregnant Pause, when I stayed sober for nine weeks in support of my wife's nine months without alcohol.
These sober strategies can work whether everybody already knows your amazing news or if you're still trying to keep your baby a secret!
Of course, your other choice is to either tell the truth about why you're abstaining, but this doesn't guarantee you won't be pestered by those people who are seemingly desperate to make sure EVERYONE has a drink or two at some stage. If you're up to it, you can stand up for yourself and not give in. Or you can use the old "sorry, I think I've got a bug ... not feeling too well" excuse, too.
Besides that, here are five other tried-and-true tactics that can help you handle the hardest social situations over the silly season.
It seems as though people come out of the woodwork as soon as the word 'Christmas' is uttered. Despite the fact you haven't caught up with that "friend" since the exact same time last year, it quickly becomes mandatory to "have a drink before Christmas". So how do you deal with your new-found sobriety and handle the monotony of having the same conversation you did 12 months ago?
Tactic: The diversion
Instead of a pub or bar, catch up at a cafe. This reduces chatter with that "friend" you haven't seen forever, to 30 minutes, max. Unlike catching up for a wine, no-one has more than one coffee AND you don't have to worry about buying an expensive round!
Whether it's a work function, street party or just catching up with mates, Christmas parties have one thing in common: alcohol. So how can you survive the Christmas party, have a good time, and not get pressured into having "just one drink"?
Tactic: The instigator
There's always one at every party, and now, being grog-free, it's your turn to become The Instigator. The Instigator's role is to divert attention away from themselves onto other guests. This tactic can offer outstanding benefits and even make you the life of the party.
- Dish out dares. By being in control of the challenges, you never have to partake in any!
- Encourage the boss to let their hair down and really enjoy themselves. You can then share all the great photos you took in the office the next day.
- Play cupid. Instigating a round of Perfect Match between Debbie from Marketing and Omar from Accounts will deflect everyone's attention from your sobriety and on to what Alex from HR is going to do next.
You can also try 'the mocktail', 'the mimic' and 'the sleigh of hand' tactics found further in the article.
Another idea is to enlist the help of one other person who will be at the party. If anyone is pressuring you to have a drink, your assistant can step in and ask for your presence elsewhere to get you out of the situation, or could hand you a drink that's actually non-alcoholic.
There are lots of things on Christmas Day that don't revolve around alcohol; unwrapping a mountain of presents, devouring delicious food and spending time with family, for starters. But in between all that, corks pop all day.
Tactic: The mocktail
Summertime makes The Mocktail a perfect tactic for Christmas day. A few delicious juices, some carbonated soft drink and a muddling of mint can provide for a perfect, refreshing complement to your holiday grub. Mocktails will provide a sense of fun and colour, which is what Christmas is all about.
Plus, with no alcohol to make you drowsy, you may find yourself being the only person up at 3pm. While everyone else is passed out on the couch, you can use that three hour block after lunch and before dinner to do something just for you - with a delicious mocktail in hand of course!
Boxing Day means eating leftovers and watching cricket ... both of which have always been accompanied with a frosty brew in my hand.
Tactic: The mimic
There are many occasions where not having a beer in your hand can raise eyebrows. This is where the mimic comes in: a ginger beer.
How to make your ginger beer mimic a lager
Serve it in a stubby of brown glass – it shares the same stature as a VB. Keep swigging with a bent elbow just like the rest of your mates and you'll look just like you're drinking a beer.
Cover your beverage with a stubby holder to keep it cool and discreet.
If ordering at a bar, emphasise the word BEER in ginger beer, so anyone short of hearing will think you are ordering the hard stuff.
The mimic is not solely for use with beer – my wife has also found some very palatable non-alcoholic wines. This comes in handy when everyone is drinking semillon and sipping cola from a wine glass could draw unwanted questions.
New Year's Eve
The biggest party night of the year can look like a huge drag for a pregnant woman or a Pregnant Pauser. But that also means that you don't have to wait in that huge taxi line at 4am, and you have an extra public holiday to do many things while the rest of the world is nursing their sore head.
Sometimes it's hard to say no when someone offers you a drink. This trick will put you in control and make you seem like the nicest person in the world.
Tactic: The sleight of hand
Smuggle a bottle of non-alcoholic wine into the fridge or place slightly separate from the rest. Pour yourself a glass and then become the hostess with mostest! When you see other guests with empty glasses, offer to freshen their drink. When you're back at the fridge getting refills for others, use the occasion to discreetly top-up your own alcohol free cup. This puts you in control of your drinks and makes you seem look super lovely, too.