5 Tips for Handling House Parties Sober
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5 Tips for Handling House Parties Sober


If you’re sober, you’re probably not going to hit up any cop-baiting ragers, but you’re still likely to find yourself invited to mellower house parties where the booze will nevertheless be flowing. Here are five house party hacks to amp up the fun and leave boredom, awkwardness and temptation at the door.

1. Bring a (sober) friend.

This isn’t crucial if the guest list is already full of all your favorite people. But if the only attendee you know is the host, ask if you can bring a guest along—preferably one who can keep you entertained without getting loaded.

2. Bring your own fun beverages in a six-pack carrier.

Stores like Cost Plus World Market that sell fancy soda in individual bottles tend to give you sturdy six-pack holders that make it easy to tote your personal supply of non-alcoholic drinks anywhere. If you’re not content to sticking to water and whatever boring mixers they happen to have, with this little beverage caddy you’ll never be empty handed. Of course nobody can (or should) be downing six soft drinks, so I tend to mix it up: a couple bottles of sweet gourmet soda or ginger beer, a can of something lighter like iced tea or Fresca, and three mini-bottles of water. Just stash the holder in the fridge, and anything you don’t drink will be easy to reclaim and take back home for next time.

3. Eat before you leave.

Every time I’m getting ready for a house party I have one thought: “I hope there’s food. But not too much.” Without alcohol to keep me occupied I tend to default to compulsive non-stop grazing, which can occasionally push the limits on the socially acceptable. There’s hardly a bigger turnoff than someone who’s clearly way more into the seven-layer dip than making conversation. So unless it’s a cookout or other meal-based event, showing up already full helps me be more selective about how much attention I pay the party snacks versus the partygoers.

4. Get in the game.

There are plenty of grown-up games where drinkers and non-drinkers alike can have a blast, from the perennially uproarious Cards Against Humanity to Mafia variants like One Night Werewolf and Bang! If a party is the right size and atmosphere, part of the group may peel off and circle up for a round or two of competitive hilarity. Not only do games give you something to do besides watching other people get their buzz on, but they can also turn strangers into instant friends. If you have a favorite party game, talk to the host beforehand to see if they think it would be a good fit for the group. You don’t want to impose on anybody’s plans, but scope out the vibe and see if anyone’s up for it.

5. Seek out fresh air.

Unless the party’s in some tiny studio apartment, there should be several places to hang out. Instead of hovering near the kitchen or bar where drinks are flowing and space is cramped, see if you can migrate to some place like a balcony—though preferably not one where people are passing a joint around. If that’s not an option, seek out a side room or even just a place to sit down with a few friends out of the main fray. Bonus: this strategy works equally well if you’re trying to avoid bogarting the cheese plate.

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About Author

Erica Larsen AKA Eren Harris blogs at Whitney Calls and Clean Bright Day. Their writing has also been published on Salon, Selfish, Violet Rising and YourTango. They live in Los Angeles with their husband and their enormous cat.