A few weeks ago I went to the most amazing hen party: glamping in beautiful bell tents, a flower-crown making session (so relaxing!) and a night out with such a lovely group of people. Having given up alcohol on a whim 90 days ago, I wanted to enjoy the hen party sober. Read on to find out how I got on...
I've got to confess, my current alcohol-free status was actually a complete accident. I wasn't even looking to give up alcohol, but after a particularly heavy and teary night, I read This Naked Mind by Annie Grace, and haven't had a drop to drink since.
Whether you're just trying to cut down on alcohol to prioritise your health and wellness, or are embarking on an alcohol-free stretch, there are always occasions that make not drinking difficult. After 80 days of not drinking, I faced my first real test: a sober hen party. Sure, I had practised maintaining my sobriety at house parties and had spent many weekends saying no to summer G&Ts, but I worried that a hen party would require more than just willpower.
The funny thing is, since giving up alcohol, I haven't actually had to employ any willpower at all. I simply haven't wanted a drink (I'm pretty sure Annie Grace is to thank for this!). Compared to Dry Januaries in the past where I've counted down the days, if it wasn't for an app on my phone I would have lost count of how long it's been since I stopped drinking. I seem to just be basking blissfully in the health benefits and haven't looked back.
So, back to the blog in hand, how to make it through a hen party...SOBER!
Decide whether to fake it or make it
Are you going to knock back tonic pretending it's a G&T or are you going to share openly that you're not drinking? Decide in advance. At a work mixer where you mingle with a lot of different people, it's easy to run through different excuses and cover ups: 'I'm driving', 'I've just finished my drink', 'I'm hungover from last night', 'No this is red wine, not grape juice'. At a weekend-long hen party, this isn't really an option. It's obviously a lot easier to be open about the fact you're not drinking as you'll inevitably be dragged in to drinking games and buying rounds where your cover will be blown. My advice is to tell your host up front so that activities such as cocktail making can be adapted (e.g. making mocktails or extra cocktails for the bride to be).
I'm not usually fussed about faux-alcoholic drinks. I personally steer clear of fizzy drinks and juices as the health costs really outweigh the benefits for me. Plus I genuinely like drinking water. That said, for special occasions like a hen party, I stock up on de-alcoholised wines and Prosecco so that I have something sparkly to cheers with.
Get to know people
At most hen parties, you don't know everyone going: some of the bride's friends are from uni, some from work, some from home, some family. When you're drinking, it's easy to spend a lot of time talking and not a lot of time listening. My go to conversation piece on a night out was usually: "I love this song". Ask people questions. Get to know everyone. Make making friends your focus, it's a good distraction.
Capture the moments
Not only did a heavy night out often erase my memories of the night itself, but the only photos I ever managed to wake up to were blurred or bathroom selfies. Try taking photos and really capturing the night. It'll be something you can share with the bride to be.
I've always needed a few drinks before I'd even consider getting up on the dance floor but when you're alcohol free you've just got to let this rule slide. If you're sitting on the sidelines, you'll look, and feel, left out. Get up. Get dancing. Get involved. Everyone will be too busy having fun (and drinking) to notice that you can't dance for sh*z. Practise in your bedroom at home if you have to.
Hold a glass
I hope I don't need a glass permanently attached to my hand to enjoy my night but for now, it's a good prop. Oh, and a straw. Definitely hold a glass with a straw.
Alcohol used to be what kept me awake during nights out. Now that I'm not drinking, and off the coke (cola, read about that adventure here), there aren't that many stimulants I can use to keep me awake. For this hen party, I had a green tea in the afternoon but really just had to power through. I tried to avoid too many sugary foods and drinks as although it keeps you awake, the sugar low is as low as the sugar high is high.
In new situations, not drinking makes me feel like an outsider. It can feel like alcohol is the magic potion that makes you confident and funny, and that you're making life harder for yourself but not partaking. The truth is, you're what makes you confident and funny. What I found, though, was that being myself made it much easier to be alcohol free. A hoodie and converses with a summer dress will always be my go to outfit. If I had tried to overcompensate for my lack of confidence with tight clothes, heavy make up and high heels, I would have felt even more uncomfortable without my Sambuca safety blanket.
I was surprised how much intrigue my sobriety caused. Naturally people assumed I was pregnant but as the weekend went on, more and more of the girls were asking me about it. Why was I was alcohol free? How long had I not been drinking for? Did I notice any health benefits? Was I sleeping better? Did it really save me any money? Do I like it? So I told them the truth. I f*cking love it.
Oh, and lastly, enjoy it! Remember, you're at a party!
Yup, I faced a butler in the buff sober. And no, I didn't drink that bottle of Prosecco!