‘Sober October’: Here are 6 ideas for an alcohol-free and fun date

Article compiled by Bonolo Sekudu and first published on News24 on the 20th of October 2023.
Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

  • Going on dates and not knowing whether to order an alcoholic drink can be daunting for various reasons.
  • Dating coach Leigh Joy Mansel-Pleydell says in a country like South Africa, where alcohol abuse is so rife, initiatives such as ‘Ocsober’ are needed.
  • She advises people going on dates to try coffee and simply abstain from alcohol this month. 
  • Here are 6 budget-friendly date ideas for ‘Sober October’. 

Going on dates and not knowing whether to order an alcoholic drink can be daunting. There are various reasons for this; for instance, some people are in ‘Ocsober’; this includes recovering alcoholics or people simply abstaining. Safety is a big one for women, particularly in our country. Drinking alcohol or having too much to drink on a first date with someone you practically don’t know might not be advisable.

Dating coach Leigh Joy Mansel-Pleydell  says in a country like South Africa, where alcohol abuse is so rife, initiatives such as Ocsober are needed.

“This is important because it’s helped many people get sober. Thus, conversations around it need to be had. Our society has a very high addiction and alcoholism rate,” she said.

Mansel-Pleydell advises people going on dates to try coffee and ease into the conversation about perhaps recovering or simply abstaining from alcohol this month. 

“If you are afraid of telling somebody you may have an alcohol problem, should you be on a date with them? Probably not, because this means you will constantly lie or feel pressured to drink when you do not want to,” she added.

“People need to know there are other ways to be happy and that drinking too much makes life worse.”

“Also, what would help is understanding that addicts and alcoholics are shy about telling people what they are going through, so mindfulness around this issue is important. But in my practice and in my personal life, I encourage people to talk about it because I think that shame dies on exposure,” Mansel-Pleydell said. 

According to dating expert Anastasia Pochotna at dating app Flirtini, daters are choosing to abstain from drinking on their dates due to fear of acting silly or losing control. As a result, people increasingly seek enjoyable activities to share with their partners that don’t revolve around alcohol.

You don’t need to have an alcohol problem to avoid drinking on a date.

Here are 6 budget-friendly date ideas for 'Sober October':

1. Do some good in the world

Pochotna says we’re all looking for a bit of kindness in a match, so why not join hands and make the world a better place? Find a cause that resonates with both of you and dedicate your time to making a difference. Whether helping out at a local animal shelter, participating in a community clean-up, or offering a helping hand at a food bank, doing good can help get those feelings flowing (especially when sharing the experience with someone special).

 2. Get your freak on at the thrift store

With Halloween lurking around the corner, why not get ready together? Agree on a budget, hit the thrift stores, and create each other a spooky ensemble. It’s a great way to learn more about your date, their likes, and maybe even their hidden desires (or whether you should run while you still can).

3. Show off your culinary skills

Seek out a cookie recipe that sets your pulses racing, then have some fun mixing the dough and creating uniquely shaped cookies. Alternatively, to get the conversation flowing, pick a recipe passed down through generations or has an interesting story behind it — Share, bake, and enjoy.

4. Build and bond over LEGO

Dating is all about building something together — so why not that dusty old LEGO set at the back of your closet? It provides the perfect opportunity to reminisce over childhood memories and share hilarious stories (and you can always pretend you’re searching for a piece if an awkward silence occurs). Who knows? It might become a shared hobby, and you will never have to scratch your head wondering what to gift your special someone again.

5. Make pottery (and lasting memories)

This date isn’t just about crafting pottery; it’s about creating memories. Roll up your sleeves, put on your apron, and let your love take shape in the form of a beautifully ugly bowl, cup or plant pot. After a while, all those restaurants and bars blend into one — You need to mix it up. Pottery offers quality time that will leave you both with a prized possession and cherished memories.

6. Capture beauty with a photoshoot

Grab your camera and capture your date’s beauty with a photoshoot in the park. It’s the perfect chance to update your profile pictures before the weather turns gloomy, and while you’re at it — ask somebody to take a photo of you together (for when you finally make it official).

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