Our drinks columnist Sam Rice shares her top tips and non-alcoholic tipples for a lower-alcohol Christmas.

It doesn’t seem five minutes ago I was last loading up the trolley with festive wines and spirits but this year something has changed.

After attempting Dry January at the start of 2019, and failing dismally, I decided abstinence wasn’t for me – it’s too restrictive and I genuinely enjoy a drink – but I knew I needed to get a handle on it, which is the theme of this month’s column.

By drinking more mindfully, I have managed to significantly reduce my alcohol intake and, most of the time, I am staying within the healthy drinking guidelines of 14 units
a week.

But December can be harder to stick to limits: all those drinks parties and festive gatherings and that’s before you get to the day itself. And with New Year round the corner, there’s yet another excuse to celebrate, usually with something alcoholic and fizzy.

That said, I am determined not to let all my efforts to moderate go out the window, so I have come up with a few strategies to help me finish the year on a non-alcohol-induced high, which you too may find useful:

Keep it social

Only drink when in company, and keep your units for when you are celebrating.

Stick to two

Put a limit of two alcoholic drinks on any occasion – the first one or two are always the ones you enjoy most.


Try a more diluted alcoholic drink such as a spritzer or shandy if you have a choice.


Have a soft drink (preferably water or sparkling water) after each alcoholic one to help stay hydrated.

Choose quality not quantity.

Invest in a fabulous bottle of wine for Christmas Day and enjoy a glass or two with your meal. It can be tempting to crack open the booze before lunch but you’ll be glad you waited.

Go alcohol-free.

There are some excellent low- and no-alcohol products on the market that tick the psychological ‘I’m having a drink’ box without the unwelcome after effects (see below).

Or, if you are hosting friends, why not make a large bowl of delicious non-alcoholic festive punch?

A great one is cranberry juice, pineapple juice and ginger ale topped with lime slices.
With a little seasonal moderation, there’ll be no need for Dry January in 2020.


(£10.98 for 750ml, amazon.co.uk)

At last, a bottle of zero-alcohol fizz that does the business. From the team behind Skinny Prosecco comes Noughty.

Spiced Citrus Atopia
(£25 for 750ml, ocado.com).

This non-alcoholic spirit has notes of orange, juniper and spice and just 0.5% ABV. Try mixing it with lime juice and ginger ale.

Rochester Organic Mulled Berry Punch
(£4.99 for 725ml, hollandand barrett.com).

It wouldn’t be Christmas without mulled wine. Try this non-alcoholic mulled fruit punch. Served hot, it is a winter warmer.