Last weekend I decided to throw an alcohol-free party. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I wanted to celebrate the fact that I am very close to completing 365 days without booze. I was also hoping to show my friends you can still have a nice time without an alcoholic drink. 

I love hosting parties and we have thrown some incredible ones over the years. But clearly, people are a lot more tempted by a night of free alcohol than they are by a night that’s alcohol-free. I don’t blame them. But I thought I’d give it a go.

So I sent out the invitations, organised the marquee and hired the sound system. On the day of the party, my best friend came to put up fairy lights around the garden, my husband built a bonfire, I set about buying and cooking food for all the guests. My daughter and her friend spent the day preparing the most exquisite mocktails – a delicious cucumber mojito and a blackberry mule, both made with Seedlip, the non-alcoholic alternative to gin. So far, so good.

But then the texts and emails started to come in. “I’m sorry, we’re not going to be able to make it after all.” Message after message with various different excuses. “We’re coming down with a sick bug”, “we’re a bit jet-lagged”. It was difficult not to be disappointed.

I was expecting around 80 people and I wasn't counting, but probably only half that came. Some didn’t even bother to send their excuses, they simply failed to turn up.

But to all those who did manage to make it to our house on a cold November night to drink alcohol-free beer and delicious mocktails, I salute you. I am incredibly touched that you made the effort because I’m fully aware it wasn’t the hottest ticket in town.

In the end, it was a lovely evening. There were fireworks and sparklers and toasted marshmallows.  There was a little bit of dancing and a lot of nice chat. The people who did come made it really special, and essentially that’s all that matters.

The next day my friend Romany sent me this message: “Thank you so much, Daisy, for pulling off a really good sober social experience. Actually, a really good sober party. So people didn’t ‘wave their arms in the air like they don’t care' on the dance floor? But I remember everyone I met, I even remember their names. And we all had an improved, shorter and more memorable evening without alcohol. So well done Mr and Mrs Steel for sharpening the knife once again and making us all raise our game, or is it our glass?”

I won’t be throwing another alcohol-free party. But it was an interesting social experiment. I cut the head off the monster that oils the wheels of social engagement and only the brave and loyal were prepared to join me.
Amongst them were some of the people I've met through One Year No Beer and it was a stark reminder of how important it is to feel part of a like-minded tribe. Signing up to One Year No Beer was one of the best things I have ever done because many of my friends are big drinkers but through OYNB I've met others like me, who have chosen to go alcohol-free. I've found the OYNB Facebook group particularly useful – it's a completely private forum in which to chat, connect, build relationships and support and encourage one another.
One Year No Beer is the leading habit changing programme with a 96% success rate. You can sign up for one of the challenges here: Try One of Our Alcohol-Free Challenges Today | One Year No Beer

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