· By Vanessa Royle
How I Celebrate New Year's Eve Sober
New Year’s Eve used to be my moment. My time to let go of all inhibitions. My “the world may end tonight, let’s go crazy” night of the year. Inevitably, I’d start drinking too early, keep drinking too late, and have a hazy recollection of chanting “3, 2, 1…” surrounded by blurry faces. What began as a fun, ecstatic evening, usually turned out to be a bit depressing followed by a gnarly hangover on my first day of the new year. I always felt so much opportunity and like I was on the precipice of a cliff ready to fly. Only, for me, it was a steep fall rather than a thrilling lift-off.
In December 2020, I celebrated my first New Year’s Eve sober, unsure of how I could still celebrate and have a good time without the overabundance of alcohol and wild parties.
I had just read “The Sober Lush” and felt inspired by the authors to do something that made me feel alive, just as I always dreamed alcohol would (but never did). So, when the clock chimed twelve, I jumped into my in-laws’ frigid pool. I shrieked, frantically swam out, wrapped myself in a towel, and then laughed. I was shivering, shocked, and very much alive. The next morning, I felt great. Without grasping for cloudy memories from the night before, or warring with myself over my drunken choices, I was free to glide into the new year excited for what was to come.
The next year, I did the same, with the addition of NA sparkling wine for some bubbles. And this year, I’ll upgrade my new tradition with an official polar bear plunge on New Year’s Day in Santa Barbara, my new home.
Reflecting on past NYE’s, I can’t help but feel a bit sad. There’s so much pressure put on one night by people like me who ache for moments that feel infinite. I so envy the people who casually go to bed at 9 pm not fazed about missing the shifting of time. If you’re like me and are spending this NYE on the wagon, here are a few tips to help you navigate the last night of the year:
- BYOB: If you’re attending a party, bring your own beverages. I recommend Jøyus bubbly white wine or rosé. You’ll have something delicious to enjoy and you’ll be surprised by how many people come out of the woodwork to confess that they too don’t drink or want to cut back. Next year you can bring Tilden to the party :)
- Have an exit strategy: Decide ahead of me if you’re staying through the countdown, leaving at 12:01, or going to see where the night takes you. When you don’t have alcohol speeding you through the evening, hours can drag, and it’s helpful to have your expectations set in advance.
- Celebrate Jan 1: Not into a polar plunge like me? Check out a new hike, cook an elaborate brunch, play a new board game with friends. Do something you haven’t done before or start a new tradition to mark the new year. Take advantage of how great you’ll feel sans-hangover.
- Let go of the pressure: This is mainly a reminder to myself. There is no need to go to a fancy party, spend a bunch of money, or pack all the activities into one evening. The sun will rise tomorrow, the memes of Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen will be online, and you will continue on with your life. Let go of the pressure for it to be the best night ever and just focus on celebrating the moment you’re in, whether that’s curled on the couch watching the news channels, out at a party counting down the clock, or fast asleep dreaming of new year’s resolutions.
I hope this post helps you to enjoy New Year’s Eve in a new way or reminds you to take off some of the pressure that this night tends to bring.
Happy New Year, and we can’t wait to share our cocktails with you in January!
Chana Phillips on