New Year’s Eve Ideas for Those in Recovery

New Year’s Eve can be a difficult holiday when you’re in recovery. People tend to focus on alcohol when they’re celebrating the New Year, which can feel isolating. It’s easy to assume that there’s nothing to do on New Year’s Eve if you can’t drink, but that’s not true at all. In fact, there are many ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve without alcohol. Here are some of our favorites. You can use these ideas on their own or combine a few to create the ultimate New Year’s Eve celebration. You can stay sober on New Year’s and have fun, too!

Host a Game Night Extravaganza

Whether board games or video games are more your speed, a game night extravaganza is the perfect way to ring in the New Year. Invite your best friends, and ask them to bring their favorite games. You can set up various game stations throughout your home so everyone has something to do. Enjoy snacks and non-alcoholic drinks while you play your favorite games and enjoy spending time with the people you love most.

Related reading: 5 Substance Abuse Counseling Techniques

Pick Your Favorite Movie Marathon

With hours and hours till midnight, a movie marathon is ideal for New Year’s Eve. There are several simple ways to host this event. You can ask each guest to bring a favorite movie, then vote on which one to watch first. You can also host a themed event. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Lord of the Rings theme: You’ll need to start early if you want to watch the full trilogy before midnight. Costumes are optional, of course.
  • Harry Potter theme: These movies take approximately 20 hours total, so you may need to start the night before. You can also just pick your favorites and start with those.
  • 80s theme: Pick your favorite Brat Pack movies and binge them all in one night.
  • Genre-specific: Choose your favorite rom-coms, action flicks, or comedies and watch them back-to-back.

With a movie night, the possibilities are endless. You can ask your guests for suggestions, too!

Dress Up for New Year’s Brunch

New Year’s Eve is fun, but don’t forget about New Year’s Day. It’s much easier to enjoy brunch when you’re not hungover from the night before. Plan a fun brunch at your local restaurant (or host one yourself), and enjoy ringing in the New Year without the nasty side effects of alcohol.

Serve Up Tapas and Mocktails

You don’t need alcohol to enjoy a good drink. Host a party and invite each guest to bring their favorite mocktail recipe. Pair the drinks with tapas or hors d’oeuvres, and everyone is bound to have a great time.

Practice Gratitude and Self-Reflection

If you prefer a quiet evening to yourself or with a few close friends, self-reflection is a great way to process the old year and prepare for the new one. Make a list of the things you’re most grateful for, and think about what you hope to accomplish next. You can share your thoughts with friends if you like. This exercise can help with recovery and strengthen your relationships. If you need help or are struggling with your recovery, please call Transformations Treatment Center at (877) 204-0661.

Related reading: How to Heal When You’ve Grown Up With Alcoholic Parents

Dish Up Desserts

If a fun, lowkey event is more your speed, consider a “desserts only” party. Any other day, you might limit sweets and insist on eating your veggies first. New Year’s Eve is an excuse to loosen your belt and eat whatever you like. Ask each guest to bring a delicious dessert, and enjoy each dish together.

Host a Dance Party

Let loose with a fun dance party! You don’t need alcohol to get into the swing of things. Make a playlist of your favorite party songs. You can pick a specific genre or just add whatever you like to the list. Don’t forget about line dances and group dances, too. These are a great way to break the ice and get everyone moving.

Include a Fun Photo Booth

A themed photo booth is one of the best ways to remember New Year’s Eve. Set up one or two photo booths with props, and enjoy watching your friends be their silliest selves. Take plenty of photos and share them on social media so everyone can enjoy.

Start the New Year With a Bang

Fireworks, poppers, and other noisemakers are an exciting way to welcome the New Year. Find a fireworks show in your town or create your own at home if local regulations allow. Make sure you purchase the big fireworks to make the best impression.

Focus on Family

If you normally spend New Year’s Eve with your drinking buddies, it’s hard to break the cycle. Sometimes it’s better to focus on family, though. Ask your parents, siblings, or extended relatives what they’re doing for New Year. If you’re married, consider a quiet evening at home with your spouse. Children are especially fun on this holiday. Everything is new and exciting for them, and they love the rare chance to stay up late. Ask the kids for party ideas, too; they may surprise you with some great suggestions!

Share Your Resolutions

Nearly everyone has a New Year’s resolution. Why not make a game of it? Ask your party guests to share their New Year’s resolutions (silly ideas are welcome), then record everyone’s response. Check back next year to see who stuck with their resolution.

Gather Round the Fire

New Year’s Even is often too cold for much outdoor activity, but a firepit or bonfire quickly warms things up. Host a fun backyard event with a fire, s’mores, hot dogs, and outdoor games. You can cap the evening off with some fireworks, too.

Host a Pajama Party

If you prefer to stay warm and cozy indoors, why not host a pajama party? Invite your favorite friends over, and insist on pajamas for the dress code. Lay plenty of sleeping bags and blankets on the floor, then play games or watch movies till midnight. Make sure you provide plenty of sleepover snacks like chips and soda, too. In the morning, serve a big breakfast to start New Year’s Day off right.

Try a Murder Mystery Dinner

If you need a bit more excitement without the loud music, host a murder mystery dinner. Create a fun, full-course menu and use your nicest dinnerware. You can find storylines and game sets online for cheap (or even free). Pick a theme that matches your plot, and assign every guest a character. Then spend the evening solving the mystery together. If you don’t feel like hosting, you can find a murder mystery dinner party in your area to attend instead. Many venues host this type of event on New Year’s Eve, but you’ll need to buy tickets in advance.

Dine on Dishes From Around the World

If you like the idea of a themed dinner party, consider “Food From Around the World.” For this theme, simply ask each guest to bring a certain type of cuisine. One friend might bring an Italian dish, another friend brings Indian, etc. You can snack on the food and talk about its origins as you eat.

Play Poker Till Midnight

If you’ve ever played poker, you know how easy it is to stay up all night playing hand after hand. Host your own poker tournament and play till midnight—or later. You can place actual bets if you want, or just use poker chips or pennies and play for fun. Make sure you print out rules or guidelines for whichever poker game you choose. You’ll probably have a few guests who have never played before, and they’ll appreciate the thoughtful gesture.


Yes, this is a boring suggestion. But sleep can be so helpful and restorative when you’re in recovery. If you don’t really feel like hosting (or attending) a New Year’s Eve party, remember that sleep is always an option. There’s no rule that states you must stay up till midnight. You can simply go to bed early and wake up well-rested and ready to start the day.

Related reading: 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Alcohol Withdrawal

Start Your Recovery Before the New Year

If you’re struggling with drug or alcohol use disorder, why wait? You can start your road to recovery now and start the New Year with a fresh outlook on life. Call Transformations Treatment Center at (877) 204-0661 to discuss treatment options. We’re ready for your call, and we’re here to help you celebrate New Year’s Eve without alcohol.

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