Simple Christmas Entertaining for a Healthy Holiday

This year, get back to basics with simple entertaining ideas, healthy recipes, and holiday sanity savers.


Warm mugs of hot chocolate, soothing carols, and special times with family and friends -- this is the stuff of Christmas cheer. Yet all too often we drive ourselves crazy with the details, only to collapse on December 26th, wondering where all the cheer went.

Hosting a holiday gathering doesn't need to be about gourmet food and razzle-dazzle decorations. Take a softer approach. Start by planning your menu carefully -- these Make-Ahead Menus and Simple Sweet Feasts will allow you to enjoy your party as much as your guests.

Make-Ahead Cooking

Simple Sweet Feasts

If you insist on going all out in a cooking extravaganza, you'll appreciate these timesavers and shortcuts.

Holiday Cooking Timesavers

Cookie Shortcuts

Sometimes a small party can be just as special as a big one. Consider paring down your guest list -- do you really need to invite the whole neighborhood? Create this intimate dinner instead. Your guests will love it, and so will you.

Simple Feasts for Small Gatherings

It's just not Christmas without lots of lights, glowing candles, and of course, a Christmas tree. And if you're hosting a party, you want your house to look and feel like Christmas. Here's how to do it in three easy steps.

1. Start with the lights. Skip the tangled strings and electrical engineering with these elegant solutions for outdoor Christmas lighting.

Simply Elegant Christmas Lights

2. Little touches. Spread the Christmas cheer throughout your home with these artful arrangements -- you can find everything you need in your own home.

Simply Elegant Holiday Arrangements

3. Your favorite things. Displaying mementos of Christmases past, like your family stockings and special photos, adds a touch of warmth to every room.

Simply Elegant Christmas Decor

Most of us tend to overindulge during the holidays, and then we feel guilty later. So what's the solution? Try healthier food. You can boost the nutrition in your holiday dinners and cut back on the fat and calories with these light dishes.

Light Holiday Dishes

Try these low-carb menus for your diet-conscious guests.

2 Low-Carb Menus

Drinks and appetizers are the places where people indulge the most. These recipes are lighter, but still just as delicious, so they don't have to watch their portions.

Healthful Party Appetizers

If you're bringing food to a party, you'll want to check out these tips to transport foods safely. The change in temperature from oven to outside could be disastrous.

Toting Foods Safely

You've tried your best, but you just couldn't say no to that second piece of chocolate cake, or the extra serving of Christmas ham. Here's some help recuperating.

Post-Party Recovery

This is the part where you settle in on the couch in front of a blazing fire with a warm mug of hot chocolate and those soothing Christmas carols in the background. No time? Use these tips to streamline your Christmas activities, so you'll actually have time to enjoy the season.

Holiday Stress Busters

8 Tips for Holiday Joy and Less Stress

Gift-Giving

It's easy to get carried away by the spirit of giving -- most everybody does it. This quiz will help you find out if you're going overboard. And then see if your indulging habits are affecting your kids.

Do You Spend Too Much?

Is Your Child Too Greedy?

If you think holiday mall-walking should become an Olympic sport, it's time for you to change your gift-buying strategy. Start shopping online -- sites like Amazon.com and eBay are reputable and have great customer service. And most of your favorite retailers have easy-to-use and reliable Web sites too, like Target, The Gap, Sears, and others.

Or consider making some gifts. Special people like teachers, close neighbors, and your letter carrier will appreciate a home-baked goodie from you. Try these simple food gift ideas.

Simple Christmas Food Gifts

If you've got a tight holiday budget, and even if you don't, making crafts for family and friends is a good solution. These beautiful ornaments will look great on anyone's tree -- and they're easy, too.

Quick Gilded Ornaments

Family Tension Tamers

Whether you're traveling to your in-laws or hosting Christmas Day in your own home, there's bound to be some tension. Here's what you can do to keep your cool through the chaos.

Family Tension Tamers

When you're divorced, remarried, or a stepparent, celebrating the holidays comes with its own set of stresses. Find out how to make a smooth transition into new family traditions.

Blended Family Holidays

The holidays are a time for celebrating our families, friends, and life in general. Giving thoughtful gifts, baking delicious foods, decorating our homes -- these are all the ways we express our love and appreciation for each other. This year, take the time to focus on the people you love, and keep the rest of it simple. You'll have a healthy holiday all around.

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