Healthy Thanksgiving Entertaining

How to host a Thanksgiving dinner that you can enjoy, along with your family and friends. Plus, holiday stress busters and healthy Thanksgiving menus.


A cozy room, the laughter of family and friends, comforting food, and a warm place to take an after-dinner nap -- these are the visions of a perfect Thanksgiving celebration. But if you're the host of the party, it's possible that you might see an overdone turkey, contaminated stuffing, too many dishes, and fighting in-laws, all against the backdrop of a loud football game.

That's why we've compiled this host's guide to Thanksgiving entertaining. It's packed with the resources you need to ensure a happy day for all, including you. Here you'll find healthy menus, food safety tips, tips for simplified gatherings, and even some family tension tamers. So start planning.

Healthy Menus

First things first: What's for dinner? Every family has their particular food tradition that they just can't do without -- buttermilk biscuits, string-bean casseroles, the all-important secret stuffing recipe. But old-fashioned recipes don't take into account health issues like high cholesterol. Start a new family food tradition with one of these healthy menu ideas -- your arteries will thank you.

Healthy Thanksgiving Menu

While you're slaving in the kitchen, your guests are salivating in the living room. Satiate their appetites, and spread out the eating, by setting out bowls of cashews and pistachios along with some simple appetizers. And assign someone to drink duty so you don't have to be filling glasses instead of perfecting the gravy. These healthy drinks are a nice alternative to wine and beer.

You've taken the time to plan a healthy Thanksgiving menu. Now don't blow it by making the usual rich (and fattening) desserts. These light desserts still highlight your favorite Thanksgiving flavors, but with a little less fat and fewer calories.

Light Desserts

Food Safety

If you're a seasoned Thanksgiving host, you probably have your own system for handling the turkey and cooking the stuffing, among other things. But if you're new to the game, you might want to check out these food safety and handling tips. The last thing you want is a case of food poisoning on your big day.

Turkey Safety

Toting Foods Safely

A happy host will have a wonderful party, even if the mashed potatoes are too chunky and the gravy gets cold. So if you're overwhelmed by the idea of hosting this holiday feast, then keep it simple:

  • Ask your guests to bring something. Assign a vegetable, dessert, or appetizer to each family member or guest. You can worry just about the meat and potatoes.
  • Ask for help in the kitchen. Thanksgiving has been a group effort since the beginning. Most people will be happy to stir the gravy, pour drinks, and replenish the cheese and cracker plate.
  • Use dishwasher-safe dishes. It's tempting to break out your formal china and silverware, but that just means someone has to wash it by hand. Today your dishwasher is your best friend.
  • Let someone else take care of the leftovers. As the host, you should linger at the table, relax, and enjoy your wonderful accomplishment! Let your guests clear their own plates and pack up the leftovers. They can even wash the dishes that don't fit in the dishwasher.
  • Keep it simple. Try these menus for a streamlined Thanksgiving gathering that you can enjoy.

Simple Thanksgiving Menus

10 Stress-Busting Tips for Hosts

Holiday Survival Strategies

We are a nation of overscheduled, stressed-out folks. And the holidays, with the family gatherings, work parties, and endless lists of gifts to buy, are no exception. Try these ideas to help you reduce your stress this holiday season.

A Stress-Less Season

No matter how hard we try to avoid talking about politics or debating sports rivalries, sometimes family spats get the best of all us, especially during holiday chaos. These tips will help you cope with the tension.

Family Tension Tamers

If you have to travel to your Thanksgiving gathering, either by car, plane, or train, you've got an entirely different set of stresses to deal with -- especially if you're traveling with children. Here are some holiday travel tips to make your journey a smooth one.

Holiday Travel Tips

Staying Fit

The best stress buster of all is exercise. In the weeks leading up to your Thanksgiving gathering, try this walking program. It will give you some much-needed quiet time away from the hustle and bustle. Plus, you'll feel better about indulging when the big day arrives.

Walk Off Your Weight

Overeating is one of the great joys of Thanksgiving. And the guilt you feel the next day is one of the major drawbacks. But here's the good news: You can overeat without feeling so guilty! Here's how:

Bank Your Calories

Now that you've created your menu, simplified your plans, and worked out your stress, it's time for you to host your party! Thanksgiving is a time for great food, but it's also a time to make new memories with your family and friends. So no matter what you plan to serve, remember that your guests will be thankful for the opportunity to connect with each other, and with you. And that's a healthy Thanksgiving.

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