Planning a party or event when you have a loved one who is in recovery can be tricky. You want your guests to have fun and feel welcome, but you also want to make a comfortable environment for your friend or family member. Creating a sober-friendly event takes a little work, but it will be worth it in the end if it helps your loved one.
When going through recovery, many people experience depression and other mood disorders and have a hard time being social. They may withdraw from friends and family because they feel like a burden or because they just don’t have the energy or the right mindset to be around others. Going to parties can be a stressful ordeal because they know they’ll have to answer uncomfortable questions or dodge temptation.
If you can create an environment where they feel relaxed and welcome, that’s one step closer to their own healing. Here’s how.
Remove temptation: While the word “party” is often associated with substances, you don’t have to include them to have a good time. Give your event a fun theme and stress that it’s kid-friendly, which will alert your guests that you won’t be relying on alcohol to show everyone a good time.
Focus on the food: One of the best ways to help your guests have fun without substances is to focus on the food. Create several “stations” around the event area for desserts, appetizers, and finger-foods rather than having them all in one place or making it a formal dinner. This will allow your guests to mingle and mill around instead of crowding awkwardly around one table. For more tips on what type of food to serve, check out this article on keeping your guests safe and happy.
Mood lighting is key: Your loved one may feel anxious in a room with lots of people, so lower the lights and give the party a relaxed feel. Create different seating areas to encourage conversation and have a “quiet room” where anyone can go to simply sit and take a break.
Keep it safe: If your loved one is okay with you serving alcohol at your event, be sure you keep it up out of reach of little hands. Get familiar with how much alcohol you have on hand, what type it is, and how quickly it’s being used up. Have a bar area that will be watched over at all times by a responsible adult so that young people don’t have a chance to sneak a drink. It may seem like harmless fun to them, but many kids and teens develop harmful habits later in life if they are exposed to substances early on. In fact, Redfin.com published an eye-opening article about how much children can be affected by the things adults use.
Keep it low-key: It can be stressful for a person in recovery to attend a party during the holidays, as these are the months when temptation often rears its head. If you’re entertaining during this time, keep things relaxed and low-key rather than forcing games or activities on everyone. Play soft music, set out lots of good food and non-alcoholic drink options, and have a separate area for kids who want to play and might become loud. Set out board games, video games, puzzles, and art supplies for little ones so they can entertain themselves.
Remember that your loved one may not stay for the duration of the party, and that’s okay. The fact that they’ve shown up is a step in the right direction. Allow them to have fun at their own pace and decide when they’ve had enough so they will feel in control and confident.
Learn more at CADCA.org