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Thursday, September 4, 2008

When in a social situation, it is possible that you will be offered an alcoholic drink by your host. Once people get into the party mode they may be reluctant to take 'no' for an answer, but you have your reasons. How do you turn down the offer without seeming like a killjoy?
Decline gracefully. Sometimes a polite word will do the trick, and there's no need to go into detail.
"No thank you. I'm not drinking this evening."
"No thank you. I have to drive my friends home."
"No thank you. I have to drive myself home."
"No thank you. I forgot my designated driver."
"No thank you. I'm not thirsty at the moment."
"Thanks, but I'm pacing myself."
"Thanks, but I don't need alcohol to have a good time."
"Thanks, but I'm still hungover from last night."
If they insist, then you must insist as well. "Thank you for the offer, but I'd really rather not."
"Thank you, but no. Perhaps another time."
"I'm fine right now, I may take you up on it in a little bit," thus ambiguously deferring the drink until a later time (or not at all).
Alcohol? Orange juice?
Alcohol? Orange juice?
Carry a decoy. If what you are avoiding is alcohol, ask instead for soda, juice, coffee, tea, non-alcoholic sparkling cider, or water. Even bars keep these items around. Whether or not you drink it, having a drink can stop people from offering another.
"No thank you, but a coffee would be wonderful if you have any."
If you're in a bar, ask for a soda in a short glass (if they serve sodas in larger ones), add a stir straw instead of the fat straw and a slice of lime or lemon. No one will know.
Get allies. In a bar or restaurant, discreetly inform the wait staff that you won't be drinking, or that you are avoiding alcohol. Ask if someone buys you a drink the bartender can omit the alcohol. This is especially helpful with heavy drinking friends or friends who buy shots.
Driving home?
Driving home?
Offer to be the designated driver. Tell them you will have to drive later, or that you're the designated driver for a group. Better yet, volunteer as a designated driver in advance of drink offers. Most people will think you are choosing to not drink because you're driving instead of choosing to drive because you're not drinking. A sensible host should drop the issue right then and there.
Explain your reasons for not drinking or make a convincing excuse. While a simple "No, thank you" should be enough, some hosts are particularly insistent, and in some cultures, to refuse a drink outright is often seen as ungrateful and insulting. Offer a reason or excuse and defuse the tension. Just be firm and don't waver, or do anything to make it look like you might be convinced to change your mind. A firm reason, even a fabricated one, may persuade somebody that your refusal to drink is more than simple reluctance or indecision. Here are some common excuses/reasons that work wonders:
You're trying to lose weight, cut calories, etc.
Your doctor advised you not to
You're allergic
You have a big day tomorrow
You have an early morning appointment
You have to drive home
You're feeling dehydrated or under the weather
You're recovering, or still sick and on antibiotics or other medication that can't be combined with alcohol
You had too much the night before and can barely stand to be in the same room with it
You're feeling nauseated. It may be something you ate.
You're training for the Olympics. If your host has a sense of humor, they'll laugh (unless you look like an athlete, in which case they'll ask what you're training for). Then you can go on to tell a funny story about that time you fancied yourself a gymnast on the playground's monkey bars...
You're a recovering alcoholic. If you are upfront about being a recovering alcoholic, you may find they are not only apologetic but also become supportive and more considerate.
It's contrary to your religious beliefs. If you have religious or other firmly held belief that drinking alcohol is wrong, you should just say so. If your host is unwilling to respect your religious belief, you might as well know that up front. Some people do not recommend saying anything to the effect of abiding by your beliefs, asserting that your beliefs are a personal decision and that your host and other guests might feel insulted because by saying that you're trying to do the right thing by not drinking, you're implying that they are doing the wrong thing by consuming alcohol. Worse yet, those who make this recommendation point to the possibility that a heated conversation about ethics and religion may ensue. However, if your reason for not drinking is your religious belief, it's hard to see that lying about that is nearly as polite as it is hypocritical. You should be able to stick to your beliefs without pushing them on others. If not, you may not be ready for situations where others will be consuming alcohol.

If you simply don't enjoy drinking, people may have a hard time understanding this, so you're probably better off making an excuse.

Take one and hold it. If you absolutely must take the drink, remember that you are not required to drink it. If you've already resisted the drink, then the fact that you carry the drink around without sipping or quietly abandon it untouched should come as no surprise to your host.
Dump it. If you feel uncomfortable or tempted holding the drink, or if you've been holding it for a long time, get rid of it. Use discretion when dumping an unwanted drink. Keep in mind that not having a glass in hand will probably be noticed after a while and you'll start the refusal process all over again.
Offer it to a friend and see if they'll take it. Waste not, want not.
If you're at someone's home and have access to the outside, you can dump the drink outside. Try to dump just the liquid and carry the glass with the ice and remnants of the drink around.
Excuse yourself to the restroom and pour out the liquid in the sink.
If you've been offered a can of beer, take it into the bathroom and pour it out. Then refill the can with cold water. They can't see the contents so no one will know. You can be seen sipping it and when offered a fresh beer, you can tell them that the can's full and you're not ready for another one, yet. One can, carefully, and discreetly refilled, can fool people all night.
Never pour a drink in a houseplant or potted plant. It could kill the plant, create a sticky mess, or attract bugs.
Set your drink in an area with many empties and walk away.
Remember that it's not you; it's them. If somebody is pushing alcohol on you after you have declined, then they are the ones not being polite. Many people choose to avoid alcohol for a variety of reasons, which are nobody's business but their own. You do not owe them any further explanation, especially if you've already mentioned a reason or excuse. Don't let anyone pressure you into having a drink, and don't allow them put you in a position in which you have to "make a case" for why you're not drinking. If the host continues to pester you about the issue, feign a sickness, thank your host for a wonderful time (i.e. lie), and leave.
Don't attend future parties like this. If you have a hard time being firm, or this host has a hard time taking "no" for an answer, just don't go next time. When friends ask why you aren't attending, tell the truth. Say, "Well, last time I went, it seemed all anyone cared about was seeing me drink. I don't care to party that way (with alcohol or drugs). Until I feel sure that my "no" will be accepted and I won't be badgered all night, I'm not going to go." That should take care of the problem, because your friends will pass what you said on to the host, and in the future, care will be taken not to offend you in this way again.
If possible, give the host advance notice you won't be drinking. Give them whatever reason you'd like but let them know you're a non-drinker before the gathering. Ask if there will be non-alcoholic items or volunteer to bring something.
Tell a close friend or two and work the buddy system. Sometime you just need backup to avert a pushy host, someone to mix you that non-alcoholic drink or someone to change the subject before the host insists...again.
Ask your host whether a mixed punch or other drink offering contains alcohol.


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