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Navigating Holiday Parties


The holiday season is filled with all types of parties. While they can put you in a festive mood and allow you to catch up with family and friends, they can also derail your diet when finger foods and delicious beverages abound. Do you have to deprive yourself at these get-togethers? No! These parties come just once a year and should be enjoyable. However, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to keep yourself on track!  At least a little bit 😉

Focus on fruits and vegetables. If the party has a fruit salad or crudité tray, make these the star of your party plate. Fill half or most of your plate with fruits and vegetables and not more than about 2 tablespoons of dip before moving to the more decadent items like cheese trays and desserts. Besides the produce being lower in calories, the fiber will also help keep you feeling full.

Pick your protein. Look for lean sources of protein on the snack buffet. Some party favorites you might see are cocktail shrimp, lean deli meats like turkey or ham, grilled chicken skewers, hummus, or bean dip. These options will be lower in saturated fat, and the protein will round out the plate to make you feel satisfied.

Have dessert! – in moderation. Holiday parties usually have a variety of sweet treats for you to choose from. It may be tempting to try several different desserts, but the best strategy is to be selective. Whether it is a holiday favorite you absolutely must have every year or a beautiful new treat you can’t resist, choose just one delicious dessert and enjoy every bite!

Make only one trip through the line. At a party where snacks are being served, it is tempting to graze throughout the evening. However, by doing this you may be taking in more calories than you realize. A good plan is to limit yourself to one trip through the buffet line, then take your time eating those snacks during the party. Eating slowly will help you gauge when you become full, enjoy your food, and allow you to socialize more!

Plan your beverages. One of the sneakiest sources of calories any time of year, but especially at the holidays, are drinks. Eggnog, punch, or holiday cocktails are delicious ways to quench your thirst but are usually high in calories and sugar. Just one cup (8 fl oz) of eggnog is about 220 calories. You don’t have to avoid these drinks altogether; instead, alternate your beverage of choice with water or another low-calorie drink. You would be surprised how many calories this can save without missing out on the party fun.

Wear a tighter outfit. This may sound silly, but give it a try this year at a party and see what happens! This strategy can make you feel more confident and motivated to maintain your current size. Additionally, it can help you determine when you are full faster than wearing baggier clothing!

We hope these tips will help you expand your joy at holiday parties but not your waistline! Happy and Healthy Holidays from UGA Extension.

Written by Emily L. Selph, BSFCS, Master’s Student, Dietetic Intern; Edited by Alison C. Berg, PhD, RDN, LD, Assistant Professor and Extension Nutrition and Health Specialist