With the holidays almost upon us, now is a time for many of us to figure out a game plan to help us enjoy them and not wind up with the Holiday Blues or anything else that can make us feel like we’re missing out. And the great thing is that there’s no missing out involved – so just because you can’t go to the typical Ugly Sweater Drinking Party doesn’t mean there aren’t great (or better) alternatives! There are plenty of sober holiday activities you can either participate in or host– just as there are for your birthday.

Lots of people love making gingerbread houses come the holidays – but why stop just there? This year, commit yourself to make a gingerbread TOWN. Something big, something impressive, and something just as delicious to look at. Maybe it’s a gingerbread high rise. Or gingerbread Empire State Building. Or a gingerbread Manhattan, if you are feeling particularly ambitious?

What’s your house or apartment looking like for the holidays? There are lots of homes out there that go all out – so why not join ‘em? Outdo your neighbors with a display that doesn’t just say it’s the holidays but screams loudly that it’s the holidays. Make your electric bill a thing for the ages. Give new meaning to the phrase “lighting up.”

Like to sing? Then put together the most amazing caroling ensemble and start rehearsing. Perhaps you can host and put together a playlist of Christmas songs to learn. Pass out a few instruments and rock and roll. Put together a map of the homes you want to visit. Collect money for charity. Heck, try to make a world record for most houses sung at!

There’s nothing quite like decking yourself out in full Santa regalia, standing outside a grocery store and collecting money for charity. Figure out who in your area could appreciate the time and money – whether it’s a local food shelter or a homeless shelter – and ho ho ho your way into bringing them some Holiday green.

If you live in a snowy part of the States, then make up your own sledding championship and league. Perhaps it is with your friends from recovery. Perhaps it is just for the kids in the neighborhood. Whomever you choose, how much fun will it be to organize an event where cries of joy are the hallmark?

We talked earlier about the Ugly Sweater party – so why not throw your own, only instead of people wearing or exchanging store-bought ugly holiday sweaters, people have to create their own? How you uglify your holiday sweater will say a lot about you – so make it count!

How about just staying in and cooking a meal that your family won’t forget? Make yourself the ultimate Holiday Dinner Host and put together the best meal ever. You get to decide the menu, you get to decide the ingredients, you get to decide the décor. And if you don’t have your family, then invite your friends. You get to create everything – from the playlist to the food.

Here in the Costa Mesa area, there’s also plenty to do that’s both fun and sober. On Dec 19-23 there’s the 110th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade And Ring of Lights – and you don’t have to have a boat to participate. You can watch from Marina Park and bring along your own food and non-alcoholic drinks.

How about hosting your own Holiday Lights crawl, and driving some friends (or organizing a convoy!) through some of the more picturesque parts of town? They include the Balboa Island Ring of Lights, the Eagle Hills Neighborhood Lights Display, and some of the drive-through nativity scenes.

There is also the Winter Fest OC, dubbed SoCal’s ultimate winter festival at the OC Fairgrounds. There’s ice skating, mazes, carnival rides, and the world’s biggest walk-through ornament. Throw in a Thomas and Friends show for the kids, a Beatles tribute band, as well as an Elvis and Neil Diamond tribute band and there’s something for almost everyone.

We’ve also got you covered if you’re looking for some fun ways to spend a sober New Years. This is the time to reach out to those you need if you’re feeling overwhelmed. But either way, go have some fun this holiday season – you’ve earned it.