My mother’s holiday culinary masterpiece was her Bourbon Balls. Mix sugar cookie dough with a half bottle of bourbon (alcohol content: 40%), roll the little balls in powdered sugar and what a treat you have. Feed them in large quantity to small children and watch the fun.

My grandmother’s favorite after-dinner treat when we visited her home as children was a sundae made with vanilla ice cream covered in crème-de-menthe (alcohol content: 25%).

Even as a child, it was impossible to get through the holidays alcohol-free. As an adult it is much harder. After 14 years of sobriety, I am still offered alcoholic drinks at my parents’ homes. People readily trade bottles of wine at work, and chocolates, cookies, and cakes are alcoholic landmines.

For the first few years of sobriety, I simply told people I was allergic to alcohol. This straightforward warning made people go out of their way to protect me from the danger. As I became more and more comfortable with being a non-drinker, I told people I chose not to drink. Period. This did not work.

By telling people you don’t drink and not giving them a viable reason, you open yourself up to challenges and trickery. I have had my non-alcoholic beer intentionally switched with an alcoholic one on more than one occasion. I have had people dare me to drink, calling me, of all things, a coward.

Because I do not publicly or privately accept the label of “alcoholic”, I have never used it as an excuse for not drinking in public. People may or may not assume it, but I have never used it, not even to my husband. He knows I don’t drink, he knows the reasons why, but the word “alcoholic” is never mentioned in our household.

Navigate the holidays with ease by being honest. If you can admit to being an alcoholic, say so and it will make the season a lot easier. If you can’t or won’t admit it, be careful. Active alcoholics can spot an abstainer a mile away and will often go out of their way to curtail your efforts to remain sober. Alcoholics love company, so be careful what drink you pick up!