How to Host Successful Alcohol-Free Events

A fascinating, albeit boringly-titled, study called Event-Specific Drinking in the General Population scientifically confirmed something most of us intuitively know to be true. People’s drinking patterns are strongly tied to social events.

Let that sink in a moment.

Social events cause people to drink alcohol they otherwise wouldn’t have touched — and we’re often talking not about a few drinks but about full-blown binge drinking.

When we decided to dedicate an article to hosting enjoyable alcohol-free social events, we had people in recovery in mind — but there’s no question that others can benefit from sober parties and other events, too.

Unfortunately, society is so alcohol-centric that some wonder how to have fun without it. We’ve got some tips to help you get started!

Who Is This Guide For?

This guide is for anyone who’s considering hosting one or more sober social events. You may have decided to go the alcohol-free root for many different reasons:

  • Children will be attending.
  • You want to help the sober alcoholics in your life feel welcome.
  • You’re in recovery and don’t want alcohol anywhere near you.
  • People with religious objections to alcohol will attend your event.
  • You’re committed to a sober life (even if you’re not in recovery) and dislike being around drunk and drinking people.

The event you want to organize may be a neighborhood barbecue, wedding, funeral, weekend get-together, holiday celebration, office party, or anything else. This guide won’t be especially useful to you if you’re in a sober culture, but if most people attending your event expect alcohol to be served, this is your chance to get it right.

Offer High-Quality Alcohol Substitutes

Nearly everyone loves a fancy mocktail — and the best ones aren’t just spectacularly festive but also healthy. Read up about the best alcohol-free drink alternatives and practice your mixology skills before the event.

Make sure to offer at least five different choices so everyone can find a drink they love and sample the entire menu if they want. Aim for top-quality ingredients that can wow guests and leave them feeling more open to attending future sober social events.

While you’re at it, serve impressive snacks or foods that so naturally become the center of the conversation that people easily forget there is no booze.

Plan Entertainment & Activities

Alcohol Free Activities

It’s strange but true — when you serve alcohol, many guests see the booze as its form of entertainment. You can make your alcohol-free social events more exciting by planning activities to keep everyone entertained.

Ideas include:

  • Live music
  • Game nights or party games — think charades, Cards Against Humanity, D&D, Twister, card games, and so on
  • Watching a film
  • Dancing
  • And what about Wall Climbing?

Any of these activities can replace traditional drinking games during casual get-togethers. If you’re hosting a wedding or holiday celebration, selfie booths, treasure hunts, sharing stories about family history, or unusual activities like horseback riding or rock climbing could all make your sober event more memorable.

If you want to go all-out and it’s appropriate for the occasion you’re planning, consider hiring a magician, storyteller, speaker, or someone who can turn your event into some sort of cool workshop.

Decide the Right Timing for Your Event

People usually expect alcohol to be served during evening events or celebrations, while daytime events are much more likely to revolve around coffee, lunch, or outdoor activities. If you think you’ll get pushback for organizing a sober social event, take advantage of this. Plan your event earlier in the day so fewer people will be surprised there’s no alcohol.

Pick a Theme

Social events immediately gain a more exciting and festive feel when an overarching theme ties everything together.

Weddings and workplace social events can, for example, be turned into wellness retreats, art workshops, or team-building exercises. You can ask everyone who shows up for a casual weekend social event to dress up — with potential themes including the ‘50s, science fiction, horror, or glamour. If you’re planning a birthday party or a stag do, you have lots of creative options.

Let Everyone Know There Won’t Be Alcohol Ahead of Time

You may feel a little apprehensive about this if you’re hosting a sober social event for the first time, but it’s easy. Depending on the level of formality, let your guests know there won’t be alcohol, or include a note in the invitations.

This kind of thing usually does the trick:

“We’re hosting a party, and we’d love you to come! This is a sober event, so we won’t be serving any alcohol, and we’d appreciate it if you didn’t bring any.”

You’ll scare off everyone who thinks they can’t have fun without alcohol and be left with an event everyone planning to attend can look forward to.

How Can This All Tie Together? A Case Study

A married couple in my social circle hosts a huge sober Halloween party every year. It’s grown to be among the most popular dates in every guest’s calendar, and here’s how they manage to turn it into magic:

  • There’s a different theme every year, but one that’s wide open to interpretation. “Ominous,” “Medieval,” “jump scare,” and “post-apocalyptic” are some recent examples.
  • The party starts earlier in the day. The participating children enjoy a costume competition in which the adults vote. They then have some sort of workshop, like pumpkin carving, while the adults watch a scary movie.
  • A treasure hunt is the central focus of the evening. The hosts make a list of clues and invite guests to look for 15 to 20 items hidden around the house. This keeps everyone busy and interested for at least an hour.
  • Party games like charades and cool card and board games follow.

Everyone’s also invited to prepare and bring a dish.

By the time the evening draws to a close, everyone’s excited for next year — and nobody even thinks about the fact that the event was entirely alcohol-free.

Adults can enjoy themselves without alcohol. In being the first in your social circle to start planning sober events, you may just rock everyone’s world — and become part of a new trend.

Martijn van Eijk
Martijn is a passionate creator and the driving force behind He created this website to assist individuals and their families in conquering alcohol addiction and finding a joyful, fulfilling life after alcohol. With a deep understanding of the challenges they face, he empowers readers with valuable insights and practical guidance on their journey towards recovery. Author of the Stop Shaking Book.