Holiday Party Survival Guide


The holidays are in full effect and you know what that means- holiday party time is here!  From work parties to catching up with friends and family, you can’t escape the onslaught of hors D’oevres, cookies, and cocktails coming your way.  But you can prepare for it with this handy Holiday Party Survival Guide.

It’s no secret that weight gain commonly occurs over the holiday season.  Between the largholiday partye holiday meals and frequent parties, it’s easy to lose track.  Follow these tips for maneuvering holiday parties, and escape the holiday season in shape.  You and your significant other should be partners in crime when it comes to weight management goals, not enablers, so make sure once you have a plan, stick to it!

Nutrition Nuptials Holiday Party Survival Guide

Don’t Stray from Your Routine

Just because there’s an event doesn’t mean your whole routine should get thrown off course.  Eat meals and snacks as normal leading up to the party, and don’t forget to throw in some fitness as well to keep your body on track.  Following your usual routine will not only help keep hunger levels normal (which can prevent overeating), but also serves as motivation for staying on routine the next day.

No Skipping Snack Time

Have a small, nutritious snack before leaving the house.  This will eliminate arriving at a party and ravenously attacking the appetizers (often full of empty calories).  Amy Baertschi, MS, RDN from Green Eyed Nutrition LLC: A Fresh Look at Everyday Eating(@Green_EyedNutri) recommends eating a light, high protein meal before heading out to a party.  The protein keeps you feeling fuller longer, which will limit overdoing it on the picking foods and meals.

Scope Out the Scene

holiday partyJamie M. Marchetti, MS, RDN, LD(@Scintilla_Liferecommends checking out all food available at a party first and don’t just settle for eating the first foods you see upon arrival.  This prevents filling up on foods you’re only moderately interested in before coming across the items you really want, which can lead to overeating.

Be Monogamous With Your Plate 

Cocktail parties and buffets can lead to many pitfalls if not handled smartly.  Create a plate first, then stick to that one plate.  Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, Family Nutrition Expert & Founder of Family. Food. Fiesta (@SarahKoszykRDhighly recommends the 1 Plate/2 Bites Rule.  “When at a party, only eat 1 plate of food. Fill up half the plate with vegetables. Pick just 1 or 2 sinfully delicious items you really want to try and give yourself 2 bites only so you savor the flavors while being mindful of the portions.”

Size Does Matter

holiday partyWhen it comes to plate size, that is.  A typical appetizer plate is 6-8″ in diameter.  At a cocktail party or buffet, a lot of food can fit on that tiny plate.  Just make sure you follow the above rule- 1 Plate!  Samina Qureshi RDN, LDN (@SaminaqRD) encourages, “Try everything you’d like as long as it fits on the smaller plate. This can help control portion sizes and prevent overindulging.”

Sharing is Caring

Mr E and I have similar tastes, which makes it helpful at a party serving lots of food we want to try.  We make up one small plate for both of us to share and try a little of everything.  For the items we particularly liked, we’ll go back and create a “Greatest Hits” plate to share.  That way we’re still technically enjoying 1 plate each.  Sneaky, right?

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Admit it- how many times have you strategically placed yourseholiday partylf next to a food table to casually reach over and grab an item while chatting at a party?  Or stood next to the kitchen door so you’re first to grab a cocktail weenie from the waiter’s tray?  That is a fast track to losing track of food intake at a party.  Once you’ve gotten your plate, steer clear of food that’s easily accessible.  Stand in the middle while socializing to remove temptations.

Is it Worth It?

Many times at parties we will eat food simply because it’s there.  But is it all amazing?  If you take a bite of something and don’t like it, there’s no obligation to finish it.  Likewise, many times we have a tendency to overstuff ourselves on items that we may only get once a year.  Rather than stuffing yourself to your heart’s content, ask if you can take some home to stretch out the enjoyment.

BYO Contribution

If you’re going to someone’s home and are worried there may not be healthy options, there’s a great way to fix that- bring something!  Baertschi recommends bringing the salad or an appetizer that is more nutritious.  Just make sure to give the host a heads up first.

Listen to Your Body

Don’t deprive yourself of items you truly want because you’ve convinced yourself they are “bad” for you.  Karla Moreno, MDA, RD from Nutritious Vida: Eat. Simple. Healthy (@kmorenord) recognizes that the holidays are filled with delicious comfort food- but, don’t torture yourself to maintain your waistline. Practice eating mindfully and recognize when you’re feeling full to prevent overindulging on extra calories.  Notes Marchetti, “Although the holiday cliché is to eat until one feels stuffed, I focus on honoring my body’s fullness cues and enjoying the time with family and friends.”

Don’t Drink Your Calories

holiday partyRemember wine, beer, and spirits all have calories.  And the more we drink, not only are those extra calories, but our ability for making smart food choices diminishes.  Baertschi suggests alternating a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage to reduce calorie intake and stay hydrated (Mr E and I call that a Taffer Tip).  Plus, no one wants to be THAT person at the holiday party- especially when it’s among co-workers!

You’re Coming Home with Me Tonight

Was there a particular item you enjoyed at the restaurant or host’s home?  Instead of going back for seconds, ask to take leftovers home.  Many restaurants will provide take-home containers when asked (even at cocktail parties), and most hosts are thrilled to reduce the amount of leftovers in their own home.  Fill up the to-go container with you favorite items to take and enjoy throughout the week.

What tips do you personally follow for holiday parties?  Which from this list will you follow during the holiday season?  

Sound off in the Comments!

Thank you to my fellow Registered Dietitian Nutritionists for contributing.  Make sure check out their sites and follow on Twitter for more great nutrition information.    

Images courtesy of Apolonia, jk1991, OZphotography, Rosen Georgiev, stockphotos at