The holiday season is here at last. Widely loved for bringing friends and family together, these winter months can also mean extra stress if you’re the one planning all the festivities. Whether you’re hosting a family dinner or a late-night party, the pressure is on to create an experience that leaves everyone with a smile on their face.
There are dozens of details to account for when putting together a soiree of any size, but food is a big one. And of course, you’re likely aware of any food allergies or sensitivities ahead of time. But beyond that, it’s also very likely that a number of your guests are worried about staying healthy in spite of seasonal temptations.
For those who have diabetes, heart disease, or another chronic condition, it’s even more important to manage nutrition. This can be challenging when eating at group events, especially when guests have no control over the menu, or don’t want to disclose a recent diagnosis.
As a conscientious host, your best bet is to cater to this crowd because you might not know who is silently struggling with these health issues. Luckily, having a healthier holiday doesn’t require heavy lifting. Here are a few tips and tricks that can make a world of a difference to your loved ones this year.
Eat — Easy Swaps for Starters, Sides, Main Courses, and More
You don’t have to sacrifice your vision for a fantastic feast to accommodate a healthier palate. In fact, the best spreads always include a wide variety, from light dishes to heartier fare. Ensuring a balanced selection at your gathering gives your guests the tools they need to build the best plates for their needs.
One easy trick to test the variety of your food offerings is to check for colorful vegetable dishes. This can include leafy greens, orange carrots, red bell peppers, and so many more great options. Each one will bring unique vitamins and health benefits while adding a pop of color to your table.
Another rule of thumb is to include low fat recipes. During the holiday season there is no shortage of butter-filled and oil-covered foods, so pulling back on these flavor profiles will offer fresh taste profiles as well as healthier options. This same logic can be applied to offering lean meats, and fresh fruits for desserts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines additional details on healthier holiday foods. But it’s important to remember to keep tradition alive with classic dishes as well. Even if they’re not the best for you, guests can still practice their own meal management and indulge as they see fit.
Drink — Healthier Takes on Traditional Holiday Beverages
You’re sure to find clinking glasses at any holiday gathering, which is why curating your beverage selection is just as important as the solid foods. Oftentimes high in calories and sugar, these drinks can add up quickly throughout the evening and sneak up on overall consumption metrics.
From alcoholic beverages like cocktails, champagne, and eggnog to nonalcoholic delicacies like hot chocolate and apple cider, one thing is certain: seasonal drink flavors are incredibly enticing. Each one is not only a unique flavor profile, but also intrinsically tied to seasonal traditions.
Your guests will certainly gravitate towards these classics, but be sure to ensure water is easily accessible as well throughout the space. Water is not only a healthier option, but also incredibly important for hydration purposes as well. Encourage loved ones to mix in a glass of water after each drink.
Another beverage recommendation is not to prepare them ahead of time. Instead, leave the ingredients out for guests to build their own drinks. This way, they’ll be able to cut their cider with water for less sugar, or use skim milk in their hot chocolate. The American Heart Association’s guide identifies even more healthy fixes.
Be Merry — Fun Ways to Pass the Time and Make Memories
While food is undoubtedly a centerpiece of any holiday, it doesn’t have to be the only attraction of your event. Highlighting other available activities to engage in will help take the focus off the food and give your guests something else to do.
This doesn’t have to mean coordinating any elaborate game that the whole group is required to participate in. Rather, it can be setting up additional nooks away from the action for people to sit down and catch up together. Perhaps adding a few conversation pieces for decor could also foster more engaging dialogue.
Another great option is to get moving. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to throw on running shoes and do a 10k, but a walk around the block can do wonders to get the blood pumping, especially during already lethargic winter days.
There are also a plethora of activity-based outings you can coordinate in lieu of a traditional house party. Ice skating rinks are a scenic seasonal destination that people of all ages enjoy. Or if you’re lucky enough to have a winter wonderland already outside your door, building snowmen and doing snow angels are also lots of fun.