Alcohol-free mystery parties

Alcohol seems like a party staple these days, but if you’re sick of waking up with a headache and blurry memories, there’s no reason to drink at your next get-together. Mystery parties are the perfect way to prove that celebrating without alcohol is not only possible, but can actually be more enjoyable. Consider these suggestions to ensure a memorable, exciting and safe celebration.

Embrace your inner child

If you played “Clue” or enjoyed Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books as a child, you already know that it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a great mystery without using alcohol or any other substance. The thrilling anticipation of piecing together a riddle is universal, and it’s particularly fun for children because their minds are open, and their senses and problem-solving skills aren’t dulled. Embrace that wide-eyed part of yourself, rather than possibly impairing your memory and judgment with alcohol consumption. 

Studies have shown that alcohol makes it more difficult for your brain to convert sensory memory — the knowledge of what’s happening around you — into short-term memory, which allows you to recall this information throughout the day. Drinking makes it even harder to form long-term memories, which explains the “blackout” phenomenon that some people experience after a night of heavy drinking. Obviously, this isn’t very practical for a party that requires you to engage your critical thinking skills, remember every new detail that you learn and attempt to connect the dots. If you want to play the game and solve the mystery, alcohol will only get in your way. Ditch that adult trend in favor of the sharp observational skills that you had when you were a kid. [1]

Get into character

All too often, alcohol is considered an essential ingredient in adult parties. Anxious guests may rely on it to loosen their inhibitions among acquaintances, and friends may bond over the ritual of drinking together to forget about their everyday responsibilities. However, mystery parties offer an even more effective way to “step outside your shell” and leave the daily grind behind. As you immerse yourself in the part you’re playing, you can set your own insecurities aside and step into the life of an interesting character.

Approach your part like a role in a movie, dressing and acting like a completely different person. Create a back story to give you more perspective into the way this person would behave, and develop expressions and mannerisms that belong to them, not you. As you become more engrossed in the nail-biting details of this interactive story, your identity will slip away. If you usually worry about other people’s perceptions during parties, you can “hide” behind your character and remind yourself that your genuine emotions and personality aren’t on display, so there’s no reason to take anyone’s reactions personally. If you find it difficult to break the ice with other guests, you can approach your interactions as part of a mission to defend (or feign) your innocence or to gather clues to solve the mystery. 

Pretend to drink

Mystery parties are all about pretending, so if you wish it shouldn’t be difficult to simulate the ritual of drinking. If your character is a drinker or your mystery takes place in a setting that would normally involve alcohol, add a garnish to your water or soda and take sips as you interact with your fellow suspects. People who are maintaining their sobriety sometimes resort to this during traditional parties, to avoid feeling different or being empty-handed while celebrating occasions without alcohol.

If you commit to an alcohol-free mystery party, you’ll be able to fully appreciate and participate in the unfolding story. Have fun!

 

[1] White, Aaron M. “What Happened? Alcohol, Memory Blackouts, and the Brain.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. July 2004. Retrieved from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-2/186-196.htm on Monday, February 23, 2015