The holiday period can be a time of celebration, hopefully a little relaxation and sometimes the temptation to overindulge, which can lead to feeling worse for wear. But you can curb your drinking, or even stay sober, without curbing your enthusiasm for the festive season. Part of the challenge can be letting your friends and family know you are cutting back or not drinking, so we have some tips for you. The following are suggestions for how to keep that conversation brief, stick to your goals, stay healthy and enjoy the party.
How to keep saying 'No, thanks'
Whether it's a lively colleague, a spirited aunt or a boozer friend, there is often one person that might make a fuss about your choice and try to lure you into matching them drink for drink. It's a good idea to be honest and upfront about your intentions.
- "No, thanks. I'm sitting this one out"
- "I've got plans tomorrow, so need to keep a clear head"
- "I won't be in rounds tonight / today, I'm off booze for a while"
- "I'm still on my health kick so no thanks"
- "I've brought my own, but thanks for the offer", you could also add "you're welcome to try one of mine"
- "I'm cutting back for my health, but thanks anyway"
Actions / thoughts
- Reflect on why you have chosen to cut down or stop drinking before an event / situation where people will be
- Get yourself a signature non-alcoholic drink(s) or
mocktail(s) for the season, treat yourself!
- Tell your crew up front that you won't be involved in rounds
- Try not to concern yourself with what people think, it is irrelevant and won't help you achieve your goals
- Make plans for the following day (even if they are only with yourself) it can help you stay focused
- Before declining a drink for the umpteenth time take a breath and keep your response brief and friendly (see above suggestions)
- Remember why you are there e.g. celebrate, to reconnect with family, express gratitude, appreciate the team you work with, general bonding, release / relief after a difficult year, looking forward with hope for the new year
- When temptation is high remind yourself of why you are choosing to cut down or not drink
- Avoid confrontations with the drunk people
- If you become uncomfortable or feel awkward change your setting, go inside / outside, take a walk, nap, hang out at the kids table, suggest a game
Cutting back: How much is too much?
A 'standard drink' contains 10 grams of pure alcohol. This is about 285 ml of full-strength beer, a can of mid-strength beer, 100 ml of wine, or a single shot of spirits. Use our interactive
Standard Drink Calculator to test your pour.
According to the newly released 2020
Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol, the less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol:
For healthy adults - To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy adults should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.
18 years of age and under - To reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health, children and people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol.
Pregnant or breastfeeding - To prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.
For more on the 'Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol' and what they mean for reducing harm, read
2020 Australian guidelines on alcohol released.
Help to manage your alcohol intake
To get help to track and reduce your alcohol use, download the NSW Health
Drinks Meter app.
Drinks Meter is a free app that provides confidential and personalised feedback based on advice from doctors and the
Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. The app allows you to track your alcohol intake, the amount of calories you are drinking, how much you spending on alcohol and set weekly goals to reduce consumption and stay healthy.
You can also take advantage of the free NSW telephone-based coaching service Get Healthy. The Get Healthy Alcohol Reduction program is designed to support you to make healthy lifestyle changes and reduce your alcohol consumption. The NSW Get Healthy Service is available Mon – Fri 8am – 8pm. To enrol call 1300 806 258 or register online at
For free and confidential advice 24/7 call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. Counsellors are available to provide information, referrals, crisis counselling and support. Or start a
Web Chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm. ADIS can also provide up-to-date information about service availability in your area during the COVID-19 pandemic.