How to Host a Sober Thanksgiving

If you, like many in recovery, feel that going to a family gathering on Thanksgiving may be overwhelming, how about hosting your own? Invite the people you want and serve – and don’t serve – whatever you like. By doing so, you can create a new tradition that will support your sobriety. Here are some ideas:

Plan Ahead for The Party

When you throw your own celebration, you have the ability to do whatever you want. Maybe you want to go with a fun theme or if you are not a fan of turkey, include an alternative food centerpiece. Remember, it is important to plan out the details and let guests know ahead of time what to expect. Here are some tips:

  • Have a full menu, from appetizers to drinks to desserts.
  • Set your table with dishes, silverware, and glassware for all guests.
  • Have a place for kids, if they are on the guest list.
  • Prepare music or activities for your guests. They may arrive as you are still cooking/setting up or between dinner and dessert.
  • Supply to-go boxes for your guests if you think you may have too many leftovers to store.

Write out your lists, start hunting down what you need, and prepare all your in-advance items now.

Throw a Less-Pressure Thanksgiving Potluck

Are you looking for a laidback atmosphere that is more comfortable for you and your guests? Do some of your guests have food allergies that you are not sure how to cater to? If so, a Thanksgiving potluck may be the best option.

  • From the start, make it clear to guests that it is a potluck dinner and they will need to bring something.
  • Take on the main menu item yourself. That is, you should do the turkey and ask your guests to cover sides, appetizers, and/or dessert.
  • To make sure that you don’t end up with 10 pumpkin pies and no mashed potatoes, consider asking people to sign up for appetizers, desserts, or sides.
  • Double-check with your guests a couple of days before Thanksgiving to make sure people are still coming, how many people they are bringing, and if they are still prepared to supply a dish.
  • Have a backup dish on hand if someone doesn’t show up.
  • Notice what is left empty and be prepared to fill in the blanks.

Emphasize That It Is a Sober Event

From your invite to your follow-up, make it clear to all your guests that it is a sober event and no alcohol or other substances should be brought.

To help facilitate a fun sober Thanksgiving, you can:

  • Supply an open “bar” of nonalcoholic beverages, providing clear soda and juices with garnishes and/or fun glasses so people can mix their own drinks.
  • Ask people to bring their favorite nonalcoholic beverages.
  • Verbalize to any of your guests who are sober, especially those who are new to recovery, that your dinner will be a sober event so they feel comfortable accepting the invitation.
  • Check-in with your guests who are not in recovery in the days before Thanksgiving to make sure they understand it is expected that they will not be under the influence when they arrive or bring alcohol with them – better to have this conversation before the big day than when they show up to the party.

In early recovery, as people are in the beginning stages of building their support system and/or rebuilding relationships with family members, it is not uncommon to not have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving. This can be a trigger for relapse if it causes uncomfortable emotions, so it is always nice to extend a personal invitation to a couple of new people you meet in recovery in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, noting that it is a sober event.

The staff at Greenhouse Treatment Center knows how difficult the holidays can be for those struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. If you or a loved one is looking for treatment,  The Dallas-area rehab center can help kickstart your recovery. Contact our admissions navigators who are available 24/7 at .

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