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When you are living in sobriety, it is important to take an active role in your own life, showing up for things that you may not have previously felt were important or otherwise taking responsibility rather than letting others steer the ship. If you, like many in recovery, feel that family gatherings on Thanksgiving may not be the most emotionally comfortable destination for you, or if you prefer to make sure that whatever you do on Thanksgiving is completely free from exposure to alcohol or any other substance, you have the option of hosting your own Thanksgiving event. Invite the people you want and serve – and don’t serve – whatever you like. By doing so, you can create a new Thanksgiving that will help shape your recovery.
When you throw your own shindig, you have the ability to do whatever you want. Would you like to create the first zombie-themed Thanksgiving celebration? No problem. Are you not a big fan of turkey but really love Chinese food? Most dishes are easy to make, and there is almost certainly a nearby restaurant that will deliver. Do you want to people to dress up as Downton Abbey characters and hold an upstairs/downstairs event? It’s your day. Do whatever you want, but whatever you choose, don’t forget to plan out the details, including:
Write out your lists, start hunting down what you need, and prepare all your in-advance items now.
Are you more interested in the décor and what you will be wearing than in what is on the menu? Are you looking for a laidback atmosphere that is more comfortable for you and your guests? Do some of your guests have food allergies that you are not sure how to cater to? If so, a Thanksgiving potluck may be the best option.
If you find that what originally sounded like a good way to celebrate Thanksgiving is turning out to be a stressful event that is complicating your ability to stay sober, ask for help. You can talk to your therapist or support group about how you are feeling and what is going on, reach out to friends for assistance if you are struggling with managing certain details, or if it proves to be too much, cancel the event. Hosting a sober Thanksgiving will not be the fun time you are looking for if it ultimately leads to high levels of stress during a stressful holiday season and/or leads to a relapse.
In early recovery, as people are in the beginning stages of building their support system and/or rebuilding relationships with family members, it is not uncommon to not have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving. This can be a trigger for relapse if it causes uncomfortable emotions, so it is always nice to extend a personal invitation to a couple of new people you meet in recovery in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, noting that it is a sober event.
From your invite to your follow-up, make it clear to all your guests that it is a sober event and no alcohol or other substances should be brought.
To help facilitate a fun sober Thanksgiving, you can: