Five Best Ways to Survive Holiday Imbibing

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By Craig Pinhey

There is no question that the annual winter vacation is a popular time for enjoying the odd drink or two or three. We are usually reuniting with family and friends, perhaps on a trek back to our hometown. Sometimes we’ll be hitting our favourite haunts, going to lunches and dinner which could include drinks. Perhaps you will dine with both sides of the family in one day, which means double the turkey and trimmings, and potentially double the booze.

This week or two of regular drinking, even if moderately paced, is sure to put a strain on your liver. It can also be mentally tiring, as you don’t get as much quality sleep after drinking a substantial amount of alcohol. This can be compounded by the stress of maintaining holiday relations, unless you get along well with EVERYONE in your extended families, in which case you deserve an award.

Whatever your situation, here are some coping strategies for surviving your holiday imbibing:


1. Share and share alike

When you’re getting together with friends and families at dinners, try to make it a sharing event. You don’t need to all bring a bottle of wine. If there are 10 people, plan for 5 interesting bottles and everyone can try them. Drink less, but drink better. Do this for beer as well. If you are a lover of interesting bottled microbrews or world classics, pour a bit for everyone, and drink for the taste.

2.  Enjoy seasonal specialties in moderation

Who doesn’t love rum and egg nog? Well, some folks, shockingly, but you need to remember when drinking these things that they are sweet and creamy and thus go down way too easily. “It doesn’t even taste like there’s booze in it!” says Grandma, surely on the way to an unplanned nap before dinner.

3. Choose Beer over Booze where possible

There is a reason they call beer the traditional average of moderation, although with modern beer enthusiasts that has kind of gone out the window with all the super strong “extreme” beers. But if you stick to 5% alcohol or lower, including so-called session beers, or English Bitter if you want to stay away from hoppy American style brews, then you can have a few pints and still maintain casual conversation without slurring your words or getting so drunk you end up in a scuffle with your intolerant uncle.

4. Hydrate/Sleep/Repeat

You need your sleep. I know you want to stay up till 2 am to see the end of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for the fourth time this season, but you might want to consider calling it a night and not having that second double scotch. Before you go to bed though, drink a big glass of water. This may make you get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, but it will also prevent a pounding headache. Do this regularly, including in the middle of the day. You may crave a beer, but if you drink a pint of water you won’t drink as much alcohol, and you won’t suffer as much either. Trust me.

5. Don’t let Santa (or your relatives) get to you

When morning comes and you are opening gifts, waiting for the turkey to make its glorious appearance, don’t be shy about having a little bit of Champagne, or perhaps a Mimosa. It is one of those times of the year (the other is camping) where it is socially acceptable to drink in the morning. Also, a little liqueur or rum in your coffee might help to make conversations with your less-than-favourite relatives more tolerable, and possibly hilarious.

Happy (not) Hungover Holidays!