30 Things To Do Instead of Drinking That Are Actually Fun

Dry January just got a lot more tolerable.

The new year is here, and with it comes people everywhere deciding to change their entire lives on a dime. And while we’re not buying into the whole ‘new year, new me’ madness, we are always proponents of making positive changes.

According to a recent article by Forbes, one in seven Americans are partaking in Dry January this year. Yep, that means a country full of buzzkills. Ahem, we mean designated drivers. If you’re one of them, you’re probably in search of fun things to do instead of drinking.

We at Adultescence have decided to try our hands at Dry January this year, and while we know the breweries and bars are going to miss our loyal patronage, the eternal love from our livers makes up for it. A whole month with no hangovers? Sign us up.

The only downside of giving up the libations is the unfortunate conundrum of what to fill our time with instead. So, we compiled a list of fun things to do instead of drinking. If you’re having flashbacks to being labeled the ‘Sober Sister’ at your sorority’s formal, don’t. We’ve got you covered, and trust us, our ideas aren’t that lame.
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - Alcohol

30 Fun Things to Do Instead of Drinking

Looking for actually fun (and affordable) things to do instead of drinking? We put together a list of our 30 favorite options. Dry January has nothing on you.

1. Get active.

A positive side effect of passing on the tequila is the fact that you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to go on Saturday morning. Go for a walk, a run, or a bike ride through your neighborhood to get your blood pumping.

2. Spend time outside.

On a similar note, enjoy the outdoors in a way you can’t do inebriated. Find a local park, or go for a hike in a nearby town. Fresh air is better than wine, anyway. Or so we’ve heard.
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - Hiking

3. Take up a new hobby.

Been putting off those Duolingo lessons, but secretly dying to learn Portuguese? Now’s as good a time as any. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to knit, but that pesky drinking hobby made you unmotivated on Sunday mornings. Hit up your local yarn shop and knit your best friend a lumpy hat. Her ears will thank you later.

4. Go on a coffee date.

Replace your vodka soda with an addictive Starbucks substitute. May we recommend the Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew?
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - coffee date

5. Watch a movie.

This could mean going to the actual movie theater (yes, they still exist!), or just holing up for a Netflix and chill marathon at home. Either way, we’ll bring the popcorn.

6. Read a book.

Reading is a great distraction, especially if you find a book you can’t put down. You might even be interested in reading a self-help book, or a book that teaches you about a subject that interests you. Kill two birds with one stone. As long as it’s not a mockingbird.

Things to Do Instead of Drinking - reading

7. Find a delicious drink alternative.

Perhaps you’re a fan of Kombucha, or, if you have actual taste buds, maybe it’s a refreshing iced tea. Whatever it is that tickles your fancy, having something delicious to sip on will prevent you from reverting to that bottle of wine shoved in the back of your fridge.

8. Take a fitness class.

Exercise classes offer you the opportunity to meet new people, get your sweat on, and keep your body in shape, all while not drinking. Maybe you’re into yoga, a cardio fitness class, Pilates, or Crossfit. Whatever you prefer, fitness is a form of self care. Just don’t forget to hydrate with actual water first.
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - fitness class

9. Go to a museum.

The arts are still alive and well, and you can support them by visiting your local museum. It might even inspire you to try your hand at painting! Some museums offer free classes or lectures, too, so make sure to check the schedule and see if any fun events are happening near you.

10. Have a crafting night.

Think of a girls night with paint, yarn, and lots of glitter. You can craft whatever you want to. It’s a great way to get your creativity on and bring you back to the nostalgia of Kindergarten, without the bratty boy who pulled your hair ‘because he liked you.’ Unless you’re dating him.
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - crafting

11. Complete a puzzle.

Jigsaw puzzles require a lot of concentration, and they’re a super fun way to kill time. Pour yourself a glass of something non-alcoholic and puzzle until your puzzler is sore.

12. Catch up on your favorite shows.

The Real Housewives aren’t going to watch themselves. Put on some trash TV, your comfiest pajamas, and brew up a glass of hot cocoa. Don’t forget our invite.
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - movie night

13. Make fun mocktails.

Remember how exciting it was when your parents would let you order a Shirley Temple when you went out to eat as a kid? Bring back the days of sugar overdrive with some delicious mocktails. Who said a margarita needs tequila, anyway?

14. Cook a new recipe.

Think about a recipe that you’ve been meaning to try, but keep putting off because it seems too complicated, get the ingredients, and go for it! Yes, it might take a while. But you’ve got all the time in the world now. What was that you said about working?
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - cooking

15. Go window shopping.

Or, you know, actual shopping. But if you’d prefer not to blow all the money you’re saving on expensive cocktails, window shopping will suffice. Walk down your favorite street of shops and just browse. Try to resist going into Anthropologie. That can only end in tears. And a gorgeous living room.

16. Visit a thrift store.

We know, window shopping can be kind of depressing. We like to call it ‘aspirational.’ But, if that’s not your vibe, hit up the local Goodwill and go bananas. That way, your living room can look like an Anthropologie for discount prices, and you’re helping save stuff from the landfill. It’s a win-win-win. Just not for Anthropologie.
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - thrifting

17. Explore a new neighborhood.

How many of us have lived in our city for years and still have that one neighborhood that we’ve never ventured out to? Today is the day! The tank is clean!

18. Redecorate your home (or just clean it).

Decorating will give you something to focus on that isn’t your desire to pour a glass of something strong after a day of dealing with your office’s Karen. Even just adding one or two new pieces to your space can make it feel brand new, and make you more excited to be home.
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - redecorating

19. Start a garden.

Gardening can be a productive hobby if you’re harvesting veggies and herbs. Make us some fresh pesto with your leftover basil, will you?

20. Clean out your closet.

When it comes to fun things to do instead of drinking, cleaning out your closet might not be at the top of the list. But we all know your closet could use a good purge anyway.

You can either donate what you don’t wear to the local thrift store or try to sell it yourself on platforms like Poshmark, Depop, or Mercari. Yes, someone out there will pay you for your old Abercrombie jeans.
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - closet clean out

21. Write in your journal.

It could be as simple as writing about what you’re grateful for that day, what you did over the weekend, or your thoughts on the new Kim and Pete situationship (our official stance: good for you, Pete).

If you feel like it, you can even keep track of how you’re feeling each day as you embrace your new sober lifestyle. This will likely help you stick to your goal, and be fun to look back on as you go forth and hydrate responsibly.

22. Make a scrapbook or vision board.

Creativity flourishes when we take care of our liver. Or so we assume. With your liver as your muse, create a scrapbook or vision board for the year. What are you hoping to achieve this year, or in the next few months?
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - scrapbooking

23. Create a budget.

A new budget for the new year will ensure you’re on track to meet your savings goals. Make sure it addresses what you’re going to do with all this extra cash that isn’t going to your local bartender. We vote for an Anthropologie haul. Surprisingly, this post is not sponsored.

24. Volunteer.

It’s been on your bucket list for years. We all know it. There’s no day but today, according to Rent. Start here if your best excuse is that you don’t know where to volunteer. Yup, we just called you out. But in a loving way!
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - volunteer

25. Catch up with an old friend.

You know that friend from high school that you were super close with, but distance and time have been unkind to your relationship? Call them out of the blue (because we know how much Millennials love that). Better yet, text them first and set up a good time for a FaceTime.

26. Plan a spa day or weekend.

Not that we needed an excuse to do this, but trying to find fun things to do instead of drinking is as good of an excuse as any. Don’t skimp on the massage either. We say make it a full 90.
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - Massage

27. Start a new side hustle.

Add the money you’ll save from giving up the bottle to the money you make with your new side hustle, and you’ll be flush with cash in the new year. That Chanel bag will be yours in no time.

28. Go out to brunch. Skip the mimosas.

Plain orange juice works just fine. Extra pancakes, of course. You have to make up the calories somewhere.
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - brunch

29. Get dessert since you’re skipping drinks.

Our favorite thing about participating in Dry January is that we can unapologetically save room for dessert, since we’re skipping the fancy cocktails. Embrace your inner child and order that lava cake. Extra vanilla ice cream, naturally.

30. Plan a board game night with friends.

Speak our love language, why don’t you? Call your friends up and invite them to a game night, complete with Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and whatever else you can find at Barnes & Noble. Cheese board required. Bonus points if you make it look like Chutes & Ladders.
Things to Do Instead of Drinking - board games

Final Thoughts on Dry January Activities

Now that you have a list of things to do instead of drinking, we hope your Dry January is fun and successful. Starting the new year booze-free is a sure-fire way to get a good start on your New Year’s resolutions and goals.

By Laura Davis

Laura is the co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast and blog for post grads, where she writes about friendship, dating, and career with the mission of helping guide twenty-somethings through early adulthood. She has written and edited for a variety of lifestyle publications, including Let's Eat Cake, Popular Science, and Flixed.

When she's not typing away on her laptop, you can find Laura working on her MBA at Boston College, listening to Taylor Swift, or sweating it out at an OrangeTheory class. Follow her on Instagram @LauraKristine21 and LinkedIn.

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