It’s that time of year again, where our Google Calendars become filled with as many holiday parties as one can fit from now ’til New Years Day. From your work’s office holiday shindig to your BFF’s white elephant fiasco, you’ll literally need a break just from commuting up and down the island. But flash forward a few weeks and we can guarantee that your liver will be a bruising thanks to mysterious holiday punches and boozy eggnogs that totally sounded like a good idea at the time (guess what: they weren’t). That’s why we decided to bring in one of our favorite leading ladies, Alexandra Machover, to chit-chat about how she plans to navigate the holiday party scene as a sober Boss Babe and her holiday party, Best Ugly Sweater Party, (you know, so you can overfill your calc with another holiday fiesta, because life’s too short).
Tell us about yourself and what you’re currently working on and planning on doing for the holidays:
Ooo a little bit about myself. Well, my name is Alexandra. Born and raised in NY. I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan as a Video Producer. I’m actually a Food Video Producer at Spoon University, which is hands down the most fun job in the world. I also do some stuff…okay, fine… influencer stuff with my Instagram (@alexandramachover) on the side, which brings me really cool opportunities. Also, I’m in an a cappella group called BLACKOUT, so, yes, I am a nerd. Lastly, I co-host Best Ugly Sweater Party, which is happening this Friday, and I couldn’t be more excited!
For the holidays, I’m going to Florida to visit my parents (they moved there), and I cannot wait.
What made you decide to go down the alcohol-free path and how does this decision empowers you in a world where this isn’t the majority?
The answer to this question has many layers, but I’ll do my best to simplify. There were a few factors that led me to quit drinking: First is that I drank a lot in college (go, Badgers) and was just feeling tired from [that life.] Secondly, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and felt like drinking every night was preventing me from figuring out my career path. Thirdly, I interned at a gallery when I was 22 and the owner didn’t drink. At one of our gallery parties, I just sat there observing the stark contrast between my boss—composed, level-headed, stoic—and the patrons around him—drunk, rambunctious, obnoxious, sloppy. I admired my boss and his composure and success. I wanted to be like him—a badass boss—not the other people. Lastly, I joined an acapella group — yes, that led to sobriety. I had significantly more fun singing soberly every Sunday night than whatever partying I was doing the night before.
During our first acapella retreat (which, for those of you who don’t know, is basically an adult sleepover-version of Pitch Perfect), I blacked out and barely remembered the evening and felt so upset about it. The next morning I said, “I’m never going to drink ever again,” and that was that!
As someone who has been sober for five years and goes to events and parties as part of their job, how do you choose to navigate that scene, especially during the holidays?
It’s kind of crazy how being sober changed my social life; it’s enhanced it. You’d think that I’d avoid parties, open bar events, clubs, but I don’t. I truly have no desire to drink, so no matter what is around me (i.e.: free booze, specialty cocktails, drunk people), I still don’t want to drink. Being sober makes events with alcohol more fun. You get to enjoy the party more and actually experience what’s happening. You meet people and have meaningful conversations.
I go to events and parties that seem like they’ll be fun based on who invited me and where the event is. If there’s going to be good music and dancing (hip-hop or throwbacks, preferably), I’m going. Also, if there’s food, I’m there. And, of course, I go to my own events. I’m getting so excited for the Best Ugly Sweater Party; I’ve been listening to Infinity Ink all day. 🙂
Do you believe your lifestyle has influenced others or has it sparked any conversations?
It has definitely started conversations. I pretty much have a conversation about it whenever I meet someone new.
And yes, it actually has influenced others! Over the summer, a group of girlfriends and I drank seltzers almost every weekend we were out east. We had the best time dancing and poking fun at drunk guys’ funny attempts at hitting on us. We had the best time at this one huge house party, all being sober. Everyone else at the party was drunk; we still met some really cool people!
In addition to your full-time job and side hustles, you also are the co-creator of the annual Best Ugly Sweater Party. Tell us a little bit about how this party came to be?
The Best Ugly Sweater Party is the brainchild of my ex-boyfriend Tolga Brogan, but I have to take credit for taking it to the next level (sorry, Tolg). He used to [throw] a small ugly Christmas sweater party every year and it was always just a fun time for friends and local DJs. One day, Tolga crashed a business meeting I had with my friend and partner Courtney Wright. We were scouting Projective Space, a huge loft in the LES, for a small event. We hit it off with the owner but the space was too big for what we were looking for. Tolga intervened in the meeting and said, “This would be perfect for my Ugly Sweater Party.” We all kind of looked at each other like “should we do this?” At that moment, the four of us teamed up and threw the Best Ugly Sweater Party. Tolga handled artist bookings, Courtney and I handled alcohol sponsors and all three of us handled promoting and logistics. The party was lit with over 350 people; it was pretty exciting. Each year it gets bigger and bigger.
This year we’re expecting close to 1,000 people with Mixmag curating our DJ lineup. Infinity Ink is headlining. Our venue is in Brooklyn and is amazing. It’s going to be so fun.
While the Best Ugly Sweater Party is sponsored by liquor brands, your business partner says the party still retains its wholesomeness because of your involvement. While your choice of being sober effects your personal life, what are some ways (like for the BUSP) your lifestyle influences/inspires your work?
Haha yes. T literally said that the party would lose its wholesomeness without my involvement, and I kind of agree. For Best Ugly Sweater Party, of course, we want our liquor sponsors to have a presence, we want guests to enjoy drinks, but I want to make sure the party is fun regardless of alcohol consumption. Being sober makes me think outside the box as to what other activations/activities/decoration can be interesting for people [in] the space. Courtney is also super helpful with this. She comes up with the best ideas.
Aside from the party, my sober lifestyle overall just inspires me to always be creative and working even outside of my full-time job. I use most of my free time to create, whether that’s planning a 1,000 person party or having a photo shoot before brunch with friends. I feel empty inside if I’m not doing something creative or socializing. But I also do love binge-watching Netflix and sleeping-in on weekends.
Tell us your drink of choice during the holidays.
Seltzer with lime!
Through this lifestyle, what is the one thing you hope others to take from your story?
I hope people who are looking for a change are inspired by my sober story just like I was inspired by my boss five years ago. I had an epiphany that alcohol just didn’t agree with me and, more importantly, that I didn’t need it to have fun. I hope anyone who is struggling with alcohol can know that life is so much better without it!
Also, I want others to know that drinking is fine for some people! I know so many people who can drink without overdoing it. They have great careers and are happy. That’s awesome.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of removing alcohol from their everyday diet, even if it’s just for dry January?
Drink seltzer with lime at the bar — no one will know the difference. Also, if your friends give you a hard time about not drinking, then ditch them; they’re not true friends. No one should make you feel like you “have” to drink. They should just support you.
Lastly, be confident. If someone asks you why you’re not drinking just say “I don’t drink!”, smile, and sip your seltzer 🙂
If you want to meet Alex and check out her super badass Best Ugly Sweater Party. Get your tickets here for this Friday.
Written by Raven Ishak
Photography via Preethi Rajaguru