8 ways to celebrate without alcohol

It’s my birthday week!! As promised, here’s my 8 ways to celebrate, sans-alcohol.

I'm not sure about you, but for me birthdays can be a mixed blessing. Mine always involved alcohol (sometimes too much), ranging from crazy adventures and good times, to missed meetings the next day, fights with loved ones, huge gaps in my memory and at least several recovery days after.

When I turned 30, I fell and hit my head on the cement, waking up with a huge goose egg on my forehead. I had no memory of this happening, only a painful reminder.

As I describe in the About Me section, this was a huge catalyst for me wanting to make some serious changes. Which I did, drastically reducing my alcohol and practicing periods of abstinences until right around a year later...

On my 31st birthday, I drank a lot of absinth and then passed out, missing out on a good part of my party. While the evening itself was fairly tame, crashing early and waking up with a massive hangover was lame.

I decided that I was finally going to leave the blackouts and hangovers behind. Last year I was drinking in moderation right before a long period of abstaining, and this year - I had no alcohol at all.

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the past year. I am really happy with where I am at in my life, and feel like the changes I wanted to make as I approached my 30s are finally falling into place.

Yes, it’s taken me 3+ years to be able to say that. Creating new patterns and ways of being in relationship to alcohol, to my body, and to life is not easy or fast. I’ve been undoing and re-writing over 15 years of my story.

Last week I wrote about ways to relax and release stress, without alcohol. This week, I wanted to write about how celebrate without alcohol - because it is in celebratory moments that many of us who previously turned to alcohol now feel like something is missing.

Our culture is such a powerful force in equating fun and celebration with drinking so that we might feel like it is not a real celebration if there’s no alcohol is the glass that we are toasting with. 

That’s why is extra important that we share our tips and support one another to find fun and meaningful ways to celebrate without alcohol. These are a few of my favourite tips, I’m looking forward to hearing yours!

  1. Make it bubbly. I don’t know about you, but having something bubbly in a fancy glass feels way more celebratory than errmm water. Try scented or naturally flavoured mineral waters and infusions, make virgin mimosas or any variation of juice + bubbly water, or spritzers (fruit + bubbly water + juice). Or try kombucha. While visiting the Pacific Northwest/West Coast of Canada, I was amazed to see that many restaurants have kombucha on tap right now. I was totally digging the bubbles and buzz.

  2. Enrol your friends for support. Let them know how important it is for you to have a great time, sans alcohol. If you are going to a dinner or house party, ask the host if you can contribute a delicious n/a alternative.

  3. Enrol the bartender. Most mixologists or drink alchemists or whatever bartenders are calling themselves these days will be pleased to get creative to make you something tasty. My standard is this “What the most delicious drink that you can make me, that’s not too sweet and doesn’t include alcohol?” I’ve been able to try some amazing creations this way, and usually for a fraction of the cost of an alcoholic cocktail.

  4. Dance! In your bedroom, in the kitchen, wherever you may be. Getting groovy with great music is a wonderful way to celebrate.

  5. Treat yourself to a massage, facial, mani/pedi, sauna or whatever will help you feel spoiled and celebrated.

  6. Buy a new outfit or accessory. I don’t usually advocate retail therapy, however, when you are getting used to the different experience of celebrating without alcohol, it’s important that you feel as ravishing as possible. If buying something new helps with this - then go for it! (ps, think of all the money you are saving by not drinking alcohol. You deserve a treat!)

  7. Indulge your senses. Try a new restaurant or sumptuous new culinary experience, or treat yourself to a delicious desert... and of course don’t forget to ask for that custom made n/a cocktail.

  8. Go on an adventure. Get out of your normal routine, explore a new neighbourhood, consult your local “what’s happening” guide for events that you might not normally go to, be a tourist in your own town. The key is to have fun, of course! Invite your friends, family or whomever you want to celebrate with and go play!!

What are your favourite ways to celebrate without alcohol? Please share in the comments! Also, let me know if you want a play by play of my super special 2 day long birthday celebration - that was so lovely, nourishing and fun that I didn’t even miss alcohol (which actually was a bit surprising to me!).

Looking forward to hearing from you,


11 alternatives to wine for relaxation

For many social, casual or even habitual drinkers, it seems like the desire to often drinking falls into two main categories:

Drinking to relax/relieve stress OR drinking to celebrate/have fun

This week, I’m going to focus on alternatives to the first category with 11 things you can do to relax/relieve stress instead of drinking.

Need week, being my birthday week and all, I’ll focus on a list things you can do to celebrate and have fun, instead of drinking.

How to relax and relieve stress without alcohol?

This is something that comes up a lot in the groups I’m a part of and with my clients.

I know there’s a part of me that still pines for a glass of red wine at the end of a long day or stressful day. Yesterday was certainly one of those days.

Here are 11 alternatives to alcohol that I used with great frequency:

  1. Go for a walk. Get outside and into nature if you can! Stuck in the middle of a city? Find a planetarium, atrium, or aquarium to visit.

  2. Have a delicious aromatherapy bubble bath. Use scented blends specifically focus on calm, relaxation, or sensuality.

  3. Light candles. Again, pick floral or plant-based scents which stimulate the limbic system and life force energy, or “food-based” smells like cinnamon, vanilla etc that provide comfort and coziness, while they turn on our senses.

  4. Drink tea. Make sure to have your tea cupboard stashed with aromatic and delicious teas. I love teas that are named with a desired feeling, such as pleasure, calm, zen, relax etc. I find it helps trigger and tell me brain that that’s the experience I’m looking for. Pukka is one of my favourite tea bag brands. I also love teas with roibos as a base, and accents of honey, chocolate, cocoa, rose, vanilla. Remember that you are trying to create a sensory experience for yourself, so enjoy the taste and aroma.

  5. Drink cacao-based drink. If tea is not your thang or not rich enough for the moment, try a hot cocoa made with raw cacao. It's rich in tryptophan, which is a powerful mood-enhancer, crucial in the production of serotonin, which diminishes anxiety and has the same impact as love in our brain. Maca, a powered root from Peru, is also a great additive to your cocoa. It’s amazing for balancing hormones and is a great adaptogen that helps decrease stress levels. (See recipe below)

  6. Call a friend. Open up about how you are feeling. Ask her to tell you some jokes.

  7. Stretch or do yoga while listening to relaxing music.

  8. Have sex or give yourself some self-pleasure, or better yet, BOTH!

  9. Treat yourself to a movie, or go to the theatre.

  10. Cook a delicious meal. Again, go for sensory overload with beautiful colours, tastes and textures.

  11. Book a massage or spa treatment. Go to a sauna or hot tub. Get hot and let your body relax.

The more of these tips that you can combine into one evening, the better! Think setting the mood and romancing yourself into blissful relaxing. Or, enlist a friend or lover to help you out if you don’t feel like being alone.

I know that none of these will exactly replace that glass of red that you might be craving.  However, any combo of these alternatives will serve both you and your sanity, ease you into relaxation and calm the internal storm or stress.

Have I missed any tips? What are your favourite wine (or other alcoholic bevvy of choice) replacements? I’d love to hear in the comments!


Cacao-based drink recipe:

Blend 1 Tbs raw cacao, 1 tsp maca, 1 Tbs coconut oil, 1/s tsp vanilla powder, and your sweetener of choice (maple syrup, honey or stevia) with 1 cup hot almond milk or other dairy alternative. Hmmmm