Use these party strategies at your next holiday gathering to keep you on track and looking great.

Toasting the Holidays
Credit: Sean Locke/Photodisc/Getty Images

With a packed social calendar this holiday season, I know that a myriad of high-calorie, festive foods and drink choices are in my future. My biggest challenge is to not over-indulge in all of those yummy flavors, but to still enjoy some delightful treats. Here are some of the party strategies I use to keep myself from going overboard.

Party Strategy 1: Alcohol
Work parties and social gatherings are definitely on the menu this season. And these parties offer variety of alcoholic beverages–everything from margaritas and martinis to wine and mixed drinks. Here are a few ways I like to keep my alcohol calories in check:

  • Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage. This will keep you feeling full and hydrated.
  • Opt for soda water or diet soda as a calorie-free mixer instead of juice, soda, or tonic water.
  • If drinking beer, stick with light beer. While local beers and lagers have exceptional flavor, they are higher in calories.
  • Watch out for creamy drinks made with cream, whole milk, cream-based liqueurs, or coconut milk.
  • Wine glasses are often larger than the suggested serving size of 6 ounces counting as one glass. Keep in mind your glass may contain two or two and a half servings of wine.
  • Offer to be the designated driver so you have an excuse when friends try to encourage you to drink.

Party Strategy 2: The Buffet
My biggest issue when faced with a buffet is not picking at the food throughout the entire evening. I can recall many events where I left feeling full and not having an idea what I ate over the past few hours. I've found that these strategies work for me to control my appetite and to avoid overeating.

  • Eat a small, low-calorie meal a few hours before attending the party. This will keep you from feeling famished and ready to ravage the appetizers as soon as you arrive.
  • Don't deprive yourself of your favorite foods–just sample small portions.
  • Make a plate, sit down, and eat mindfully. Once you're finished, commit to being done and try not to stand by (and pick at) the food table or the bowl of chocolate candies.
  • Use veggies as low-calorie dippers.

Party Strategy 3: When I'm the Hostess
When throwing parties, I like to help out my guests by serving healthy alternatives as well as adding some other activities to shift the emphasis away from eating. Try a few of these ideas:

  • Play "Dirty Santa" and exchange gag gifts.
  • Ask everyone to bring an unwrapped toy for a needy child then supply paper and ribbon so everyone can wrap their gifts at the party.
  • Serve flavored coffee with dessert. It makes it easier for guest to pass up high-sugar desserts if they can savor a flavorful cup of coffee.
  • Set up places away from the food table where people can gather such as around the fireplace or on the back porch.