5 Ways to Make the Most of Dry January, According to Someone on a 7-Year Streak

published Jan 6, 2023
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Once upon a time (circa 2016), I thought Dry January would be an impossibly boring and flat-out impossible feat. As a single and social 20-something, alcohol was often part of dates, going out with friends, and even my work. (I was a red carpet reporter and freelance food and beverage journalist in New York City at the time.) So, when my best guy friend and I made a bet to do Dry January 2017, I decided to take on the challenge and make it fun. Spoiler alert: I won our wager.

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I’ve completed Dry January every year since. During the past seven Januarys, I’ve learned a lot about Dry Jan, including how to make it the most enjoyable. I even wrote a book, “The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month.” 

If this is your first drink-free month or your fiftieth, here are my top five tips for actually enjoying a Dry January.

Make fun plans, sans alcohol.

Brainstorm activities you enjoy doing that don’t require alcohol. Here are a few ideas to start: bowling, hiking (if a trail is available to you), yoga, or even something creative like a pottery class or painting. Next, invite friends and family to participate with you. This way, you can avoid bars, clubs, and most importantly, booze (out of sight, out of mind!), and still be social as you embark on 31 dry days.

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Try a non-alcoholic cocktail.

When you’re looking for something to drink, you can always order (or pour yourself) a tall glass of water, juice, or soda. That said, Dry January is the perfect time to try some nonalcoholic sips and see what suits you best. These days, there are a variety of nonalcoholic beverages available including 0 ABV beers, wines, spirits, and cocktails. You can find them in stores and online, and drink them in fancy glassware (or however you usually have a buzzy bev of choice). You can even make them at home with step-by-step cocktail books, YouTube videos, and blogs.

Recruit a friend.

Strength in numbers, right? When you have a friend doing Dry January with you, not only will you have someone cheering you on (as you cheer them on), but you can keep each other accountable, as well. Having a rough time? Call your dry month friend. Feeling great about not having a hangover? Share the news (and your new nonalcoholic cocktail recipe) with your dry buddy! As you make social plans that don’t involve booze, they’ll be happy to attend because they won’t be drinking either. 

Count your pennies.

Alcohol is expensive, and so are the activities surrounding it. Add up receipts from a typical night out, and you’ve likely paid for drinks, a cab or Uber, and maybe a meal for midnight munchies — not to mention the next morning’s hangover cure. While participating in a Dry January, you’ll save money on all of these items and can put your savings toward a dream vacation, a new pair of shoes, or anything else you’ve been eyeing. In the end, it adds up!

Be kind to yourself.

Last, but certainly not least, remember to be nice to yourself (and your fellow Dry January participants, of course). Alcohol is ingrained in so many cultures, and it’s not easy to avoid. Whether you give up booze for the full 31 days, or three, or have a one-drink January, or a damp January, the most important thing is being aware of the role alcohol plays in your day-to-day life. 

With that, best of luck and cheers! You’ve got this.