8 Tips to Make Your Sober-Curious Halloween a Smash

Christie Craft


Nov 02, 2023

Two life-size skeleton decorations are posed so that they appear to be having a conversation in front of a house decorated with neon lights.

Does the idea of going out sober on Halloween send chills down your spine? Ghosts and goblins may not be real, but believe it or not, it is possible to have fun on the spookiest night of the year without relying on alcohol. 

Maybe you’ve never experienced All Hallows’ Eve without being somewhere between buzzed and hammered but want to change that. And maybe you’re not even 100 percent sold on the idea of total alcohol abstinence but are curious about how your social life might look with moderate drinking. Whatever your reasons for leaning into “sober curiosity,” it’s okay to question your relationship to alcohol and experiment with drinking less, or not drinking at all in different situations. 

Enjoying Halloween — one of the most raucous party holidays of the year and the unofficial beginning of the fall and winter holiday season — while respecting your personal boundaries around alcohol doesn’t necessarily mean you automatically become the “boring, responsible friend.” You can still dress in your scary best, enjoy frightening festivities, and connect with your social circle. 

Ahead, eight tips on having a fun-filled and festive Halloween for the sober curious. 

1. Make a plan

No matter where you are on the sobriety scale, it’s always important to plan ahead when attending events where you know alcohol will be served. 

Consider the event and how much drinking might take place. Are the hosts known to throw all-night ragers or will it be more of a laid-back soiree? Is the event BYOB or a carefully curated cocktail experience? 

Think about how many drinks you’re comfortable with having in one night, if any at all. You may also want to consider the guest list. Will there be others there that tend towards alcohol temperance or those who might pressure you into imbibing?

Having a good think about how you’ll handle these social situations while honoring your limits and boundaries is always smart. Practice saying, “no, thank you,” and sticking to your limits.  

And if you do plan on drinking, even minimally, decide ahead of time how you’ll get there and back. Will you have a designated driver or use a ride-sharing service? It’s never a good idea to drink and drive, even if you only have a few drinks. 

2. Lean on your community 

You’d probably never enter a dark and jump-scare-filled haunted house alone on Halloween, so why would a party be any different? Strength in sobriety often comes in numbers. Leaning on friends who understand and respect your limits can provide important social support for staying on track with your goals. 

For a sober-curious Halloween that doesn’t skimp out your social life, consider rounding up your most supportive friends for a spooky night out. Talk openly with them about where you’re at in your sobriety journey and what your expectations are for this holiday. That way, they can provide accountability as well as support. 

Including people who are sober or who have successfully recovered from alcoholism or alcohol use disorder is also a great idea. Whether you’re staying in for a cozy Halloween or going out to a ghostly bash, having a network of support in person can make all the difference in sticking to your choices. 

3. Drink a new brew 

Just because you won’t be drinking alcohol doesn't mean you have to miss out completely. This Halloween, consider a new — and alcohol-free — witches’ brew. Making mocktails, or cocktails without the liquor, can be a fun way to feel included in the drinking festivities while still maintaining your boundaries and goals around drinking.  

There’s no shortage of festive Halloween mocktail recipes online to choose from. From elegant, high-end mocktails to colorful, classic party punch and totally gruesome gross-out drinks (eyeball snot-tail, anyone?), there’s something for everyone. 

Make some fun Halloween drinks at home, or check with the party host to see if they can accommodate you. Or, you can always request a special BYOB arrangement of your own alcohol-free beverages. 

Mocktails not your thing? Try sipping some non-alcoholic beer, a sparkling cider, or mulled apple juice this fall. 

4. Throw your own party

If you’re still craving the social aspects of Halloween but can’t find the right alcohol-free accommodations, why not throw your own scary shindig? 

Hosting your own Halloween fete ensures that you’re (mostly) in control of your experience, including the guest list and refreshments. This could be your golden opportunity to create your own dream party: costumes, decor, menu, and more — sans alcohol.

What’s more, your party could be the Halloween lifeline others living a sober lifestyle crave. Consider reaching out to your friends in temperance and letting them know that your event is a safe space for alcohol-free fun. Who knows, they could bring along a guest or two and widen your network of sober friends.   

5. Go all-out with your costume 

Halloween is an amazing excuse to get dressed up and create a spectacle. If boozy parties and benders raging well into the witching hour have been your main Halloween focus, try shifting your attention to one of the holiday’s most fun aspects: the costumes. 

Going all-out with your costume can take the attention off of boozing and also distract others from noticing whether or not you’re staying dry this year. Plus, if you have social anxiety around your sobriety, getting excited about donning your wickedest witch or most fabulous superhero ensemble can take the focus off any pressure you may feel. 

6. Adopt new traditions 

One of the benefits of trying sobriety on for size is that you give yourself agency in reinventing how you celebrate. You can make your own rules and traditions around festive fun and who you do it with, and this goes for any holiday. 

There are plenty of ways to have Halloween fun that divert from drinking culture. Consider leaning into the fall season with autumnal activities, like going for long walks to see the changing leaves in all their glory, apple picking at a nearby orchard, or visiting a pumpkin patch to find the perfect pumpkin to carve. You could even get competitive and assemble your sober friends and family for an impromptu jack-o’-lantern-carving contest and Halloween potluck. 

Visit a live haunted house with your pals, or find a theatre screening of your favorite scary movies. October is chock-full of fun things to do, and sometimes, just getting out of your house and being around the people you love can ensure your sobriety. 

You can lean into any Halloween tradition — or those of any other holiday — to distract yourself from drinking and partying culture. Try decorating your house lavishly, researching ghost stories, or learning about the ancient cultural origins of Halloween. 

7. Keep it kid-friendly 

One of the best ways to ensure you stay away from drinking on Halloween is by hanging out with people who don’t associate the holiday with alcohol at all. And who better to have some wholesome fun with than families and children? 

Believe it or not, many adults don’t even celebrate Halloween. Instead, they leave the thrills and chills for neighborhood trick-or-treaters. But if you’re toying with the idea of sobriety on Halloween, consider experiencing the childlike wonder of the season you might’ve enjoyed as a kid by hanging out with your own kids, nieces and nephews, or loved ones’ children instead of going to parties and being tempted to imbibe. 

Spend time with the kids in your life by chaperoning their Halloween parties or taking them trick-or-treating. You can help them ace their costumes and see who collects the most candy, or assist them in carving a spectacular pumpkin. When the tricks and treats are done for the night, you can gather together and share your favorite ghost stories or introduce them to the Halloween flicks that shaped your childhood. 

Sometimes, being there for the kids in your life can inspire you to stay on the straight-and-narrow path yourself. And what better time to enhance a child’s life than Halloween, one of the most fun holidays of the year? 

8. Call it a night 

At the end of the day, if none of these ideas appeal to you, you can always call it a night and stay in. After all, you are an adult and have the agency to choose not to participate in certain holidays if you find them too triggering. 

But if you are craving a little bit of spooky fun, there are plenty of cozy things you can do at home to honor All Hallows’ Eve. Tucking into some delicious autumnal fare (pumpkin spice everything, anyone?) and reading a good horror novel or watching a monster movie marathon are always good options. And if you’re just simply all spooked-out this year, you can choose to go to bed early and get a full nine hours of sleep. Because sometimes, you just need to sit a year or two out! 

About The Author

Christie Craft is a writer focusing on psychology and mental health. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading voraciously and gardening at home with her young son in the Pacific Northwest

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