On Friday, I was a guest on “Whole Living” on Martha Stewart radio talking healthy holidays. We discussed holiday parties and the holiday mindset and then, my favorite part of the show, we opened up the phone lines to callers. One caller, I believe his name was Brad, said that over the holidays there would be one day where he would be at 4 different homes.  He asked the best strategy for his day. While four family visits in a day sounds like a doozy, many of us will be confronted with some sort of hostess or host dilemmas in the next couple of weeks. So how can you manage good manners and good health?
First, what I find when I’m hosting a party is that I really want people to take whatever is being offered. Whether it’s a welcome cocktail or a passed hors d’ouerve, your radar is up for who accepts and who declines the food and drink. As a guest, remember you can accept without needing to ingest. Politely receive your plate of food or glass of wine and nobody will notice what you actually consume.
Second, I am a fan of strategic eating. If, like Brad, you have a day or week filled with family and food you should have a strategy too. Once you’re at a gathering and the holiday music plays and delicious aromas infuse the air, it’s too late. Pick one “forbidden fruit.” I’m sorry if this doesn’t sound festive but a fruitcake on each butt cheek isn’t the way I want to deck my halls. For one gathering you may say you’re laying off the desserts, at another you may curb the carbs. The nice thing (yes there are nice things) about family is that you generally know what to expect. If Grandma Edna has baked Christmas cookies at EVERY Christmas, chances are there will be a cookie jar. Traditions apply to food and there will be few surprises.
Finally, never underestimate the value of a thoughtful hostess gift.  Grandma Edna above doesn’t want a bottle of Absolut (or maybe she does) and the calorie counter doesn’t want chocolates. A delicious tin of  tea, your favorite sweet treat work well. Some of my favorite gifts have been special vinegar or hone. It is the thought that counts and let’s be honest the bottle of wine in the tin foil wine-store wrapper doesn’t show much thought. If you’re going to pass on the pie (or accept it but not ingest it), better if you brought something special with you. With these tips you’ll fine you can be polite and not portly, well-mannered and well.
Any host or hostess horror stories to share? Do you eat to please at family or holiday gatherings? What are your favorite host or hostess gifts?


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