Can you have a great dinner party without drinking? It may seem challenging, especially since alcohol is typically on the guest list for social gatherings. However, there are many reasons to have a sober event.
Maybe you want to support a friend who is recovering from addiction or you just want to have a night of fun without booze. Whatever your motivation, you can still have a ball with your friends and create a festive atmosphere with a few tweaks to your shopping list and some creative mocktail ideas.
Where Do You Start?
Many people drink at parties to get some sort of release, loosen up and switch gears. However, a good host or hostess can help people enjoy themselves and make it easier to relax.
That can be anything from inviting people from different friend groups to planning engaging activities.
Consider hosting a themed dinner party. You could get people to dress up like celebrities or host a retro ‘50s sock hop with a jukebox and checkered tablecloths.
Invite people who you know will stick to the occasion. New friends trying to reduce their alcohol intake or pals who want to try attending an alcohol-free event will appreciate the invite. Your pregnant friend will also probably want to come and will enjoy options like fruit-infused water.
What’s the Ideal Menu?
Be creative and leave out sugary drinks or sodas that typically replace alcohol. These beverages can make people crash harder than they would if they had been drinking.
A sugar crash brings sluggishness, and you want to keep your guests present and engaged until dessert. Focus on healthy drinks that taste delicious, such as sparkling water or club soda with fresh fruit.
You can make a cocktail or punch with soda, but try to use sugar-free ingredients and sweeten them with fruit or agave.
For the menu, you want to replace foods that would usually go with a glass of wine or opt for items that will keep people’s hands busy so they won’t think too much about reaching for a drink. Set up your meals buffet-style or options that require people to make their own meals from the ingredients displayed.
You could also create a menu and match the meals with different drinks for a fun dining experience. Some food and drink pairings you could try include:
Rice Paper Rolls and Fruit-infused Water
Rice paper rolls work well as a starter. You can serve them with fruit-infused water to keep it light and ensure your guests save room for the main meal.
An easy rice paper rolls recipe uses bean sprouts, prawns, butter lettuce and thin julienne carrots for the filling and peanut butter, mirin, soy sauce and sriracha for dipping.
There are many variations of fruit-infused water. Here are some unique combinations to serve your guests:
- Cucumber, honeydew and mint
- Blackberries, oranges and ginger
- Strawberry and lavender
- Mango, raspberry and ginger
Seafood and Nonalcoholic White Sangria
Seafood is quick and simple to cook, plus it’s always a crowd-pleaser. You could prepare a fish taco bar and let your guests make their own with shrimp and their favorite toppings.
You can also have menu items like salmon crostini, prawns, calamari and crab legs. If you’re feeling adventurous enough to make king crabs, make sure you have a crab cracker or nutcracker to extract the meat.
Usually, you would use white wine in sangria to match the seafood, so why not try a virgin version people will love?
To make the sangria:
- Mix sliced grapefruit, lemons, limes, raspberries or blackberries with unsweetened white grape juice, peach nectar and pulp-free orange juice in a jug. Place it in the fridge for several hours before your dinner party. This will give the flavors enough time to blend.
- When it’s time to serve, pour the sangria into individual glasses and top with sparkling water.
How Do You Entertain Your Guests?
Depending on the vibe you’re going for, pick activities that will get people talking and laughing with each other.
Karaoke is always lots of fun. Pull out some throwback tunes or have people pick their favorite songs from their younger days. It’s a great way to loosen up, get everyone moving, and start conversations about favorite music or memories.
Place crowd-pleasing board games like Jenga on tables to encourage play. You could also start a game of charades for post-dinner laughs.
Good music has the power to make anyone feel good. Pick a playlist with songs you know your guests will like and slip in a few throwbacks to get people dancing.
Host a Fabulous Sober Dinner Party
It takes a little creativity and planning to create a memorable and enjoyable experience for your guests without alcohol. The effort will be well worth it when people have a good time and look forward to next time.