Dryuary Prep Work: Planning for Success


An excerpt from The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month (Harper Design) by Hilary Sheinbaum

Some people wake up in the morning (or afternoon) of January 1 and decide, with their New Year’s Eve hangover raging and nausea at its peak, to give up drinking on the spot. Others benefit from a little prep ahead of January 1 (and also benefit from having something to get excited about as December winds down).

Will you play Dry January, Sober October, or other periods of time, on the fly—day by day—or will you map out your month and have things to look forward to? Or will your strategy involve a combination of planned outings and spontaneous get-togethers? Whatever method prevents you from taking even just one sip of alcohol, do that. The choice is yours to make. But remember: While an entire month of drink-free days and nights is the objective, it’s still important to enjoy yourself (and live your life) along the way.

Your options:

1. Be strategic about your sober month ahead of time (translation: before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve). In the December days leading up to the New Year, you can opt to toss out, give away, or hide (in unreachable places) all of your alcohol if you think having bottles around may be too tempting throughout.

2. Develop a month-long outline to maintain a super-fun (still dry) social calendar—or don’t. Strategize how to remain strong in these social settings. Cutting ties with your drinking buddies isn’t necessary, but taking the lead on planning activities that are unrelated to bars, clubs, and alcohol in general will help you feel social during what can be a cold, dreary, post-holiday blues-y month. Sometimes drafting a blueprint is the best path for success.

3. What you share is important, too: like who you talk to about your challenge and the platforms in which you indulge your acquaintances (or don’t). Be as verbal or secretive about your challenge as you want. Whatever works for you. (Because why not do what’s going to help you succeed in the long run?)


Just like hiding booze (or donating bottles and tools to friends), you may find it helpful to eliminate booze-related reminders. Doing so may keep FOMO (fear of missing out) at bay.

After all, out of sight = out of mind.

Beyond activities and plans, consider:

• Putting away your bottle-opener keychains and refrigerator magnets.

• Pausing that monthly wine subscription delivery.

• Monitoring your music selection and playlists, temporarily removing songs with lyrics about boozing or popping bottles.

• Steering clear of sitcoms and movies that take place in bars and/or revolve around drinking culture.

There are many ways to survive (and thrive!) throughout a month without the consumption of cocktails. The point is this: If you’re going to do something right, do it your way, and do it yourself (DIY)!