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Happy alcohol-free Halloween! That’s right, even holidays can be celebrated in a non-alcoholic way.  After all, the party isn’t supposed to be about the drinks. It’s supposed to be about the lasting memories.

So if you or a friend has recently become sober, congratulations! You have a lot to celebrate. Halloween is a great occasion to pull out the decorations, carve some pumpkins, and throw on your best costume, while not spending any extra cash on alcohol. Who needs the booze when you have “boos,” and all of the fun that comes along with Halloween. Here are five tips to get your Halloween party planning started.

1.  Determining the Guestlist
If your goal is to have a completely non-alcoholic party, invite friends who are 100% supportive of the sober guest. Anyone who has been known to be an enabler in the past may not be a good candidate for the guestlist. The last thing you would want is for someone to show up in an alcohol-related costume. What could be meant as a joke could actually cause an unwanted relapse for a formerly addicted guest. Clearly communicate to all invited guests that there will be no drinks served at the party, and you may even want to consider adding that detail on the invitations. 

2. Deciding the Entertainment
Keep the party going with constant entertainment. Plan a list of icebreaker activities or party games that could be repeated throughout the night. Avoid games that are similar to drinking games. Even if those games can be completely without alcohol, they might bring back memories for someone who has struggled with addiction. With so many new games to play, no one will even have time to crave alcohol.

3.  Considering a Movie
If you are planning to show a movie during the Halloween party, think through all of your options before ever pressing “play.” It can be pretty difficult to find a modern movie that doesn’t include an alcohol reference or bar scene. Try previewing the movie options before the night of the event to see if there is any content that could trigger someone’s crave for alcohol. Perhaps consider changing up the genre of the movie altogether by showing a comedy special instead. YouTube and Netflix both have a wide range of clips to pick from.

4.  Picking Out the Decorations
The decorations don’t have to be fancy or extravagant. Many times you can find discounts on items online if you buy them in bulk. You can buy tablecloths, paper goods, and plasticware at the dollar store, and then just purchase a few extra items at a local retailer. You can make the decorations as extravagant as you’d like, or just simply let your costumed guests be all of the flare your party needs.

5.  Selecting the Foods and Beverages
Try to avoid serving alcohol substitute drinks, like sparkling juices or “virgin” drinks. The same applies to food items, which means offering a snack like “rum cake” is probably not a good idea. Instead, take your sober guest’s mind off of past memories by offering completely different options. Unique punches like Candy Corn Punch are a great choice of beverage. When in doubt, almost anything chocolate will draw a lot of attention.

If you are a little nervous about all of your friends remembering that it is a sober party, you might want to consider hosting it at a local venue that doesn’t serve alcohol. The goal is to make everyone as comfortable as possible while having the most fun as possible. Let this Halloween party be full of “spirits,” without the spirits. Have a happy alcohol-free Halloween!

Caleb Anderson resides in Springfield, Illinois and is in recovery from an opiate addiction. He hopes sharing his experiences will help others.He co-created RecoveryHope to help people with substance abuse disorders and their families.