Will your “Check Liver” light start flashing after weeks of holiday debauchery? Want to give the old organ, not to mention your wallet, a break for a month? These Dryuary tips—i.e., dry January, i.e., a booze-free month—will help you kick off 2020 in sober, sassy style.

1. Be intentional.

Enter the grand Dryuary experiment with purpose. Next time you drink, but before you’re half in the bag, ask yourself: Why do I do this? Not in a judgy way. Just be curious. Do you associate your nightly cocktail or glass of wine or mug o’ beer with Me Time? Is it your way to put a nice soft period at the end of the sentence of your day? Are you after the flavor complement of Malbec with a steak? If you can figure out what your particular brand of poison does for you on at a high level, you can better assess how to stock up whatever you need to get to a similar place. Now, we’ll talk about going a little deeper in step 7. But for starters, just do the exercise above, even if it’s kind of half-assed. Extra credit to go one step further and complete the statement: “I’m committing to Dryuary in order to [your answer here].” Hint: “lose a little booze weight,” “rehydrate,” “simplify,” “brag about something to my less-virtuous friends”—the list goes on and on.

2. Stock up accordingly.

Is your Dryuary an all-in house-cleaning purge kinda thing where you’re tackling the entire clean eating/Whole 30 spectrum of stuff that you’re not going to consume? My friend, you have my sincere admiration, and I present to you this awesome list of Whole 30 recipes. However, if you’re really craving a booze-free version of comfort and joy, you also have my admiration, because you, sir, madame or whatever, understand what self-kindness means for you. Especially for you, my list of 15 Comfort Meals for January. Either way, I heartily recommend that you make menus—detailed or vague, the kind of plan that works for you—a few days before. Stock up at the same time that you’re buying your New Year’s Eve stuff, because few things are more miserable than facing the first day of the new year, and possibly a long bleak Dryuary, by having to go to the supermarket and pass bottles of things you Want but Cannot Have.

dryuary tips
A comfort meal of pastitsio, courtesy of Le Chou Fou; click for recipe.

3. Get Your Mocktail On.

Check out this list of 19 mocktails. And if for some reason you want a new one every night, here are 27 more mocktails (even though the link says 28, which is weird, but whatever). Which combined is 46. If you master them all, you can open a Dry Bar.

4. The Buddy System saves lives (and resolutions).

Don’t try this alone. Let’s say someone you live with says, “Pooh on your Dryuary and your Dryuary tips! Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we [fill in this blank with your own morbid prediction].” This can potentially make keeping your commitment harder. If you have a significant other, see if they’ll come along for the alcohol-free ride. If they won’t, ask for their support anyway. Maybe they drink away from the house so there’s no booze around, if that sort of thing triggers you. If they still won’t support you, my friend, I leave you to figure it out. But get a non-drinking buddy, stat. Here is one of mine, Joanna Hastings, who is also a fine drinking buddy. But we can be wholesome, too. Exhibit A: those teacups!!

dryuary tips buddy system

5. Make a Treat List.

Dude, you absolutely deserve a treat. One for every single evening that you don’t have booze. Before January, make a list of a minimum of 3 treats that you will alternate. If you make a long enough list, you won’t need to alternate. You can make it as elaborate as a sort of 31-day advent calendar or as simple as a nightly meditation session with a fabulous candle.

Here’s the thing: You may be surprised at how much money you save when you’re not going through a couple glasses of wine or a cocktail on a nightly basis. So put that into treats. A favorite of mine below: Talenti!! Also, bubble baths. And especially, Talenti right out of the container in a bubble bath with a fabulous candle on the side. Oh, and Billie Eilish’s weird little voice softly playing in the background. I just love her.

dryuary tips treats

6. Write it down. Or talk it out.

Any kind of physical house-cleaning or habit changing benefits from recording it. When my writing students used to ask me why they should bother to record their thoughts, I always told them the truth: Whether you write or just dictate your thoughts and let the little gremlin in your device write for you, you force your brain to articulate all those unruly ideas bouncing about your head into something resembling coherence. It’s work. It’s not easy 99% of the time. Anyone who writes seriously can tell you it honestly kind of sucks. But it’s tremendously valuable. And when you go back and read what you wrote, you see that it was real. It happened. And you will probably find at least a couple of kind of awesome things that you would otherwise completely have forgotten, and you’ll think, whoa, I’m sort of awesome to have written this down.

If you want to go all 21st century, take a pic a day and write a little diary post on the social network of your choice with your own Dryuary tips, or response to any you’ve read here or elsewhere. My favorite insta feeds are the ones where people write mini-posts. Contrary to what everyone says, some of us DO read now.

So record, one way or another. I promise you’ll be grateful that you did. And just to provide a studious example, I vow to do a dryuary post a day this January 2020. Follow me on insta @nanlechou, and tag your own posts with me and #dryuary. See ya there.

A sample from my insta feed: my favorite Buenos Aires mug with, of all things, llama napkins. Because, you know, the South America thing.

7. Pay attention.

Dryuary, ideally, gives you the distance you need to re-evaluate your relationship with booze to the degree that you’re comfortable doing so (beyond the initial quick check in step 1). And you do have a relationship with booze, or you wouldn’t be giving it up and looking for Dryuary tips to help you through the process. Rather than whining about how much you miss your nightly Chardonnay or beer or g & t or whatever, ask yourself, what is it that I miss?

This can get a little intense. But self-improvement programs happen because you sense there’s something that’s a bit off. Pay attention to those little voices. Let them talk, sing, laugh, cry, throw a tantrum, whatever. It was kind of a big shocker when, after putting the “what do I get out of wine?” in the old percolator for several days, I realized that overdrinking wine, or for that matter overeating in general, is my way of telling everyone, including myself, to F off. A literally sobering thought. I don’t want everyone, including myself, to F off. Not at all! But apparently, my subconscious kinda does. That subconscious. So unruly!

During a booze fast, clarity can be startling and even unwelcome and varying degrees of painful. Allow yourself to be comfortable with the discomfort. As any athlete or dancer can tell you, suffering to varying degrees is a superb teacher if you listen to it and work with it. You got this, you brave soul!

8. Gratitude, or, in other words, This Is Not Hard.

Think about it: You are actually in a position to give something up. You can actually replace an indulgence with something that is better for you. That’s rare. A huge part of the world’s population has no idea where their next meal is coming from. A whole lot are running from something horrible. That is hardship. You, gentle reader, are just trying to not drink for a month. This is not hard.

Flowers! Because they are awesome.

9. Plan, but not too much, for February 1.

I’m writing this in late 2019. This year, February 1 falls on a Saturday. The Super Bowl, a big drunkfest if ever there was one, is on February 2.

Look. Going booze-free for a month is hugely beneficial, even if you do blow it out for much of the rest of the year. The benefits are real. You’re almost certainly sleeping better, you’re less bloated, and you may have even shed a pound or two. For an entire month, you haven’t ever had to wake up and think, oh dearie me, did I really say/do that last night?

You’ll likely drink again, and it’s highly likely that you’ll drink way too much again at some point. Or you may be one of those gorgeous people who dig Dryuary so much that you continue it, which is amazing. Either way, get all the mileage out of your virtuous, wholesome feels that you can. Recognize that after a booze-free month, you’ll get a buzz faster. A celebratory blowout is going to wreak havoc on your newly clean—or at least, clean-ish—system. Ease yourself back in. Keep in mind your favorite booze substitutes, and make it a part of your rotation all year long.

Not to oversimplify but: You Got This. Now go out there and Rock the Stuffin’ out of Sobriety.