Alcohol Over the Festive Period

KC from The SUN Network and Philippa from HealthyYou smiling for a photo
in front of a drink less poster

KC talked to Philippa from HealthyYou about some strategies and tips to help those who want to drink more responsibly over the festive season when alcohol so often flows free and features big.

Perhaps ask yourself, what’s your goal regarding drinking alcohol over the holidays? Is it to drink less or avoid drinking too much? Some are concerned that once they start drinking they’ll struggle to stop (this can be called binge drinking). And that can be true because alcohol impairs our judgement, which is why the more we drink the less likely we are to make those wise choices.

Here’s some tips if you want to drink responsibly:

  • Eat first, as drinking on an empty stomach is always worse
  • Wait until later in the day or evening to start drinking alcohol
  • Drink water or non-alcoholic drinks between alcoholic drinks
  • Have smaller sizes of drinks (for example, dilute champagne with orange juice)
  • You can set a timer on your phone to help you remember your goal of drinking less and stay on track

During the holidays many visit friends, neighbours, and family, walking from house to house or to the pub. Exercise is great and fresh air is too but be advised that during the cold weather alcohol moves the blood-flow and warmth to our extremities away from our organs, which then lowers our core body temperature. This deceptive feeling of warmth that comes from drinking alcohol is called the ‘alcohol blanket’ so it’s a good idea to wrap up and dress warm for the cold outside weather, even if you feel you don’t need to.

alcohol free badge

If your aim is to stay sober over the holidays you could try alcohol free alternatives which can help socially (with those who don’t understand why you may not want to drink alcohol, to help avoid them making such a big deal out of you not having a drink). Plus it might be comfortable and familiar for you to have a drink in your hand, so why not make it alcohol free! Everyone is different, so you’ll soon learn what works best for you but talking to those who support your goals is a good idea.

If you’ve made some good headway in reducing the amount of alcohol you drink, but you are worried that you might slip and increase your drinking over the holidays, why not make a plan long before the break starts? You might work through what you would do on Christmas day and the other key times throughout the day that you know will be the trickiest. Use the tips above in your own specific plan. If you have a trusted friend who understands and supports your goal then ask them to listen while you talk it through.

Like healthy eating while tasty food is on offer, think beforehand how you don’t need to give into pressure and have your strategy ready before the holidays arrive. Be aware that our resistance and judgement is affected by alcohol. So, try to be kind to yourself if you decide you won’t drink more than a few but find that you have.

Can you suggest other things to do over the holidays that will make it easier to avoid drinking more than you want to? Watching a movie, going for a walk or playing a game can all be good ways to connect while shifting the focus away from alcohol. Some choose to not drink alcohol at all during holidays. There’s no rule against starting Dry January early.

If you would like to talk to someone at HealthyYou about your goals with alcohol, and how reducing your alcohol intake can help you then please call on them on 03330 050 093 or fill out their contact form here. has information about all kinds of free mental health support available around our area, and Change Grow Live (CGL) is free to anyone in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough seeking help with issues regarding alcohol and other drugs (including prescription drugs). You can check out their Cambridgeshire website here: Change Grow Live, Cambridgeshire, or email, or phone: 03005 550 101. For the Peterborough website click here: Aspire, CGL Peterborough, or phone 01733 895 624 or 08001 114 354 or email

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