Hints and tips for party hosts from a long time member of Alcoholics Anonymous ……..
Christmas is a time when most people enjoy a festive drink or two, but whether you’re throwing a party or hosting a meal there’s the perennial problem of what to offer those who don’t drink alcohol. Some people, like me, have had a problem and have chosen to pack in alcohol altogether. Others can’t join in because of work commitments, medical problems, or just because it’s their turn to be the designated driver. So here are a few tips on how to make the non – drinkers feel welcome.
Don’t worry – just because your guests aren’t drinking alcohol doesn’t mean that they won’t enjoy themselves and insisting that your guests have a ‘proper’ drink often isn’t as hospitable as you intend it to be. ‘Just have the one’ and ‘surely a small one wouldn’t hurt’ gets a little tedious if alcohol was once ruining your life or impacting on your family.
Oddly, offering ‘alcohol free’ doesn’t really do it for a lot of people. The taste of grape or apple juice, or alcohol free beer, can bring back pretty unpleasant memories for some. And ‘low alcohol’ doesn’t mean no alcohol.
So what to do? Offering lime and soda or cola and ice certainly hit the spot for some, but can feel boring and unimaginative. So here are some suggestions to welcome those who prefer to stick with soft drinks as they party this Christmas.
For a warm and welcoming punch : Pour a litre of water into a saucepan; add four cloves, a bay leaf, a cinnamon stick, and some mixed berries, add a teaspoon of cranberry sauce and a wedge of orange. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat and drop in a green tea bag. Leave to steep for 2-3 mins, strain into a jug and serve warm.
For those with a sweet tooth try peach juice over ice in a high glass, top it up with lemon and lime soda, then slowly pour a dash of grenadine into the drink – it will sink and then rise, slowly mixing in.
As the party warms up : – For a refreshing Mojito – mix up some mint leaves, a couple of pieces of lime, equal parts of pomegranate juice, lemonade and soda water. For that extra touch garnish with a sprig of mint.
And for a nightcap – I love a short shot of strong ginger cordial – nothing fancy.
If these don’t suit you’ll find there are plenty of suggestions on the internet and you can find some great flavoursome cordials in your local supermarket.
One final thought – puddings can be a mine field. Faced with a selection of delicious options like Christmas pudding, chocolate mousse, trifle or mice pies, its hard to be sure exactly what they contain. So it’s nice to have the option of a definitely alcohol free “grown up” pudding, rather than being stuck with the jelly and ice-cream served to the kids.
Whatever you choose to drink this year – have a great time!
Alcoholics Anonymous holds local meetings all over Christmas and the New Year, all of which are free – details at
There is a free national helpline on 0800 9177 650, a local number on 02380 223198 and chat now facility on the website.