Recovery and the holidays are an interesting tango. At first, the holidays can seem like the biggest test of will to those new to living drug and alcohol-free. Many people associate this time of year to the indulgence of substances. In early recovery, the remembrance of the highs and lows of past holidays can be an emotional rollercoaster.
The holidays are one of the most important time for 12 meeting groups, clubhouses and recovery centers to express fellowship. Newcomers and old timers alike often grow closer. Here’s a list of LGBTQ-specific 12 Step meetings in Palm Beach County.
To change up your mindset around the holidays it’s important for people in all stages of recovery to reinvent holiday traditions. This is a list of suggestions that can help you get into a festive cheer without saying cheers!
Gratitude Lists and Journal Writing
Instead of writing wish lists write gratitude lists. At least once a week in December write a Gratitude List of all the people, places and things in your life that you are thankful for.
Here are some prompts for writing about your gratitude:
- “Today, I am grateful for having a roof over my head! What I love about where I live is…” (even if you want to move or live somewhere else, or in a “nicer” home with “nicer” things, take the time to be grateful for what you have.)
- “Today, I am grateful for all the food that I enjoy. What I love about food and the foods that I cook for myself, have had cooked for me or enjoyed dining out is…” (even if you want to change what you eat, write about what you eat that makes you feel good and appreciative of the food the nourishes you.)
- “Today, I am grateful for the friends and family that lift me up and make me feel good! The people that I am grateful for are…” (even if your friends or family that you are unhappy about, focus on the friends, support people and family that are positive influences in your life).
Be of Service to Others
Volunteer somewhere new and interesting or volunteer for the first time ever! Take some time to research options in your area based on your interests. Write in your journal about what you are truly passionate about making a difference in the world. For any cause that pulls at heartstrings, there is likely an organization in your area that you can volunteer with. Here are some key areas to consider:
- Environmental causes
- Animal welfare
- Tutoring or mentoring young people
- Feeding the homeless
- Helping veterans
A lot of organizations have online or in-person applications that need to be filled out ahead of time and some places have training days for volunteers. Do the research to get linked with an organization and make a committed goal to start being of service with them. United Way is a large nonprofit that is often linked to many other organizations seeking help with their good deeds in the community.
Being of service outside of your usual outlets is wonderful during the holiday, before and after the New Year. Volunteering helps get us out of our mind and our personal circumstances and into the hearts of others.
Make Your Own Holiday Cards
A great resource for handmade cards are the new adult coloring books. Dollar stores often have these coloring books, look for inexpensive books to use for holiday cards. Dollar stores also have markers and coloring pencils to help you cut down the costs of your greeting cards.
How to make a coloring book into a holiday card:
- Color a page and then trim and glue a page of white printer paper or colorful paper. Press firmly on the page you glue to your coloring page to ensure your papers stay glued together. You can also press the glued pages between two heavy books and leave them for a while to set the glue. Make sure there’s no extra glue on the pages so they don’t stick to the book.
- For a smaller size card, take a full coloring page, cut it in half and either fold in half for an open-and-close style card or as a 2-sided card that isn’t folded.
- Write your message in the inside or backside of the coloring page.
Give your creations to family, friends and people who have been supportive of your recovery journey this year! This is a great activity to do on your own or in the company of others. Use this idea any time of year to make birthday, thank you and sober date anniversary cards.
Invite Friends Over to Make Holiday Treats
A few friends can create a fun baking party! Find out if your friends have dietary restrictions and ask everyone to bring ingredients that everyone can eat and enjoy. This can be an experiment in baking and a great way to support your friends who can’t eat different things like gluten or dairy. Some folks are cutting back on refined sugar and there are even delicious Paleo recipes for sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free to try. Your treats can be packaged up to give as presents or saved to share at a community potluck or holiday gathering.
This is also a fun plan for a sober New Year’s party! (Recommended: Combine with the next idea, a holiday treasure hunt or another idea in this list!) Cooking and baking can be a ton of fun for both beginners and those who are experienced in the culinary arts. Invite friends to have a potluck-style gathering. Plan to prepare some of the tasty treats while you’re gathered. Stay on the side of not having “too many cooks in the kitchen” by keeping some of the guests busy:
- Picking out music
- Playing board games
- Watching and enjoying the cooking magic
- Making holiday cards or DIY ornaments
Make a Holiday Treasure Hunt
On a piece of paper, take note of various holiday and particularly interesting things around your neighborhood or a downtown area. Type up and print out your list with checkboxes. Invite folks to join in the fun in teams or pairs. Afterward, share and enjoy the holiday treats you baked on another evening.
Learn About the Other Holidays Celebrated in December
Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Winter Solstice (to name a few). Expand your horizons by becoming familiar with the traditions of other cultures in your community! Pick one thing you can do to honor and celebrate other traditions.
Organize an Outdoor Adventure with Friends, Family or Your Fellowship
A walk in the woods or a friendly game of touch football is great medicine. Get your blood pumping, heart racing and remember to make your outing or choice of sport inclusive and more about having fun than being competitive. Sometimes the holiday can already feel like a competition, being active with your friends can be a wonderful alternative to the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Game Night, Movie Night, Bowling, Anyone?
All great ideas for socializing sober! If you have a 12 Step meeting house or a church that your meeting is held at, find out if you can book the room for a social night. Invite folks to bring games, suggest movies or perhaps, have a holiday potluck dinner.
Build a 2019 Vision Board
Gather peeps, magazines, poster board, scissors and glue sticks. Invite everyone to bring supplies if they can. You can look online to show people examples of what a vision board is, in case they are unfamiliar. Each person will cut and paste images that reflect the hopes, dreams and visions for 2019. Afterward, ask if anyone wants to share their vision board!
DIY Holiday Gift Workshop
Do-it-yourself gifts are a great way to help friends come up with present ideas for people on their gift lists when they don’t have a lot of spending money. You can use the holiday card idea and look up “DIY holiday gifts” on Pinterest and YouTube for ideas. To cut down on costs, share the gift ideas and material lists and ask people to sign-up to bring specific items needed. Zone in on three gift ideas to help keep costs down and make it easy for everyone to make one of each of the presents.
Organize a Holiday Fundraiser
The money can be raised for your local 12 Step meeting, or for a non-profit organization. Many people do toy and food drives during the holiday. You can play an event with live music, bingo, a potluck or homecooked dinner. Make a flyer, ask for suggested donations and promote your event on Facebook. Shazam! You have a great holiday get together and support for a cause that you’re passionate about.
Visit a Spiritual Space You Have Never Been to Before
Plan to go to a Saturday or Sunday service at a different church, congregation or temple. In Palm Beach County, we have the Shambhala Meditation Center, the Unitarian Universalist congregation, the Palm Beach Pagans, the Metaphysical Church and so much more to explore!
If you or someone you know is LGBTQIA+ and in need of addiction recovery, please contact Inspire Recovery to find out how our treatment center can help. We provide affirming, trans-inclusive care that is specifically designed to support LGBT, LGBTQ and LGBTQIA+ individuals create a sustainable life in recovery. Please consider making a donation to our nonprofit organization, Transpire Help, to support more LGBTQIA+ individuals in their recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.