Give your guests the gift of good health by offering healthy alternatives at your holiday gathering.
Be a Healthy Holiday Hostess
Credit: Beau Gustafson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine

Give your guests the gift of good health by offering healthy alternatives to high-calorie appetizers, desserts, and cocktails. Think of it as your little contribution to the well being of those you love.

Beat the Bar
Try these three tricks to help knock-off some of the extra calories at the bar.
•High-calorie mixers like juice, tonic water, and regular soda can add as many as 100 extra calories per cocktail. Offer your guests soda water, diet tonic water, and diet soda for a calorie-free alternative.
•Encourage guests to drink water between alcoholic beverages by setting a place at the bar for pitchers of water filled with citrus slices, fresh herbs, and sliced cucumber. Water will keep guests feeling full so they are less likely to overeat as well as keep them hydrated so they will drink less (and their heads will thank you for that in the morning).
•A standard serving of wine is 6-ounces but wine glasses often hold as many as 16-ounces (that's 2 1/2 servings of wine in just one glass!). Use smaller wine glasses so guests feel as if they are drinking more while taking in fewer calories.

Healthy Buffet Basics
•Once you get the party started, serve colorful foods to give guests the maximum amount of nutrients and antioxidants.
•Offer a few low-calorie dishes that your guests can enjoy without the guilt such as fresh veggie sides, lean protein like boiled shrimp or pork tenderloin, and whole grain breads.
•Offer traditional holiday foods that actually have nutrition benefits such as pumpkin (packed with iron, fiber, beta carotene and antioxidants), seasonal fruits like cranberries, apples and pears (all are good sources of fiber), and pecans (loaded with disease-fighting zinc).

Sweet Endings
Everyone loves something sweet at the end of the meal, so in addition to your signature desserts, give a low-calorie option by setting up a coffee bar away from the dessert table. Let guests choose from various flavors of coffee and then top with light whipped topping, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and "healthy" candy like dark chocolate shavings and dark chocolate-covered espresso beans (both are packed with antioxidants).

What Food?
Set up places away from the food table where people can gather such as around the fireplace or on the back porch. Play games such as "Dirty Santa" or ask everyone to bring an unwrapped toy for a child in need and then wrap them at the party. Shifting the focus to a fun activity will keep guests from overindulging and most importantly, allow them to enjoy the spirit of the holidays.