What to Do in Dry January: An Idea for Every Day of the Month

Written by:

Maia James

12/30/2023

Updated: 02/20/2024

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Are you participating in Dry January? For the third year in a row, I am! And for the first time, I am not feeling like it’s going to be a chore. In fact, after the indulgences of the holidays, I’m looking forward to this chance to clean up my act, prioritize rest, and spend more time at home. Of course, January in the Northeast is cold and dark, so removing alcohol can increase the chances of feeling a little bit bored. For that reason, I am spending the last couple days of December planning out specific activities that I know I can enjoy without being tempted to drink.

What follows are 31 ideas–one for every day of the month–of things to do without alcohol. I hope you’ll find this helpful if you’re also doing Dry January–or even if you’re not! Most of these could be done with a drink in hand, too ;).

  1. Stock up on alcohol-free drinks to get excited about what you can drink this month. You could try Curious Elixirs for a variety of healthful non-alcoholic cocktails (Number 2 is my favorite). Or you can get your haul from Boisson–I am lucky to have this in my neighborhood, but you can also shop online. (These are my top two alcohol-free cocktails.)
  2. Consider signing up for a cleanse for part of the month. I’ll being doing Sakara’s Burn program starting on January 8th. Use code XOMAIA for 20% off if you’d like to join me! You could also build a Daily Harvest box for a more affordable option.
  3. Go out to breakfast. I love eating in restaurants, but it’s hard for me to go out to dinner without ordering a drink. So I am going to plan some fun restaurant breakfasts in January, and as a bonus, I know these meals will be much cheaper than their evening equivalents.
  4. Host a mocktail night with friends who are also doing Dry January. I am dying to try this non-alcoholic espresso martini (I’d use coconut sugar instead of brown, and do decaf espresso).
  5. Go to a spa. My all-time favorite is Aire Ancient Baths in Manhattan (they also have a location in Chicago)–and they are open until 11 p.m., so you can totally do an evening session.
  6. Take an evening fitness class. When I take a 5:30 p.m. Pure Barre class, I find that I come out without any desire to drink. This month, I am going to stack more classes at night, which will also free up my mornings for productive time (I may even join the 5:00 a.m. club, but don’t hold me to that.)
  7. Do an at-home spa night. For me, this means a face mask, my best attempt at a manicure with safer nail polish, and sitting in front of a red light.
  8. Meet a friend for dessert. Last January, I did this in a coffee shop rather than a restaurant to avoid a drinking atmosphere.
  9. Drink fancy tea from your favorite mug. I’ve upgraded my tea game with this kettle, and this blend is great for winter evening sipping.
  10. Shop for something online with all the money you’re saving. There are still some pretty amazing sales happening post-holiday. On my wish list: organic waffle robe at 40% off (for all my home spa nights!), organic yoga pants for only $22 (for all those evening barre classes!), and a set of mugs at 20% off (for all tea I’ll be sipping every evening!).
  11. Go for a mani-pedi. This is another activity you can do in the evening at the time you might normally reach for a drink.
  12. Visit a shopping mall in the evening. I also like to go to Whole Foods or Target at 7 p.m. or later when the crowds are gone.
  13. Take a long walk with a friend. Walking in the winter is actually really wonderful if you wear long underwear :).
  14. Go to a book reading. Books Are Magic is your best bet if you live in Brooklyn. (I want to go to the readings for Araminta Hall and The New Naturals in January!)
  15. Get a massage. I love the walk-in places around New York City, where I can get a neck and head massage for $20 for as many minutes–even at 7:00 p.m.
  16. Make breakfast for dinner. Here is the healthier waffle recipe we use, and we will also make turkey bacon, omelettes, and Trader Joe’s hash browns (which aren’t that healthy, but which my kids LOVE).
  17. Go to a live sporting event. We are planning a night watching the Brooklyn Nets in early January at Barclays Center, where they serve non-alcoholic beer and vegan bratwurst!
  18. Plan a game night. Of course you can have a fun game night with alcohol, but it’s also fun to do with kids and no booze. Some of our favorite family games include Pictionary, Sushi Go, and Beat the Parents.
  19. Visit a museum. Here in New York, the Met is open until 9:00 p.m., so you can totally do this activity at night, too!
  20. Treat yourself to a case of flavored seltzers. I normally try to limit how many canned drinks I bring into our house (we use our Sodastream instead), but in January, I am ordering cases of Sprindrift, and guzzling them to my heart’s content!
  21. Go to a concert. While live music is often a place to drink, it doesn’t have to be! I’m thinking less jazz club and more New York Philharmonic.
  22. Take a clean CBD (or THC!) edible. I wish I liked marijuana as much as I like booze, since I believe that it is a much healthier vice.
  23. Get tickets to a play. On Broadway, you can usually order virgin “Doubles,” which are the extra large signature cocktails in the souvenir cups.
  24. Buy yourself new books and go to bed early to read them. There is little I love more than getting into what my mom calls my “nest”–preferably with freshly cleaned sheets–with a pile of brand new books. On my short list: Birnam Wood, Hello Beautiful, and The Bee Sting.
  25. Take a bath. Make it special with candles, soaking salts, and a hair mask.
  26. Go ice-skating. If you’re me, this probably means watching others skate more than skating myself, but this is a fun evening winter activity to do with hot cocoa instead of a hot toddy.
  27. Host an at-home movie night where you watch several of the movies that are likely going to be nominated for an Oscar. On my streaming list: Killers of the Flower Moon and Oppenheimer.
  28. Edit your closet. Put on some fun music and purge your closet–I plan to consign some items and donate the rest!
  29. Go see a movie in the theater. I’ve already checked and my local theater is playing Poor Things, The Color Purple, and The Boys in the Boat this month–I want to see all three! I’ll smuggle in Lesser Evil popcorn, Olipop root beer, and Panda strawberry licorice.
  30. Try a new hobby. I have several paint-by-number and embroidery kits– I hope this January is when I finally bust them out!
  31. Plan a vacation. I recently read a study that showed that people’s happiness levels are higher during the planning stage of a trip than during the trip itself! So I’ll spend a few of my January evenings fantasizing about future trips, and maybe even planning a real one.

You can follow my Dry January journey on Instagram, and please comment below with your own ideas for enjoying (surviving?) this month!

Stay sane,

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