12 Ways to Keep the Holidays Stress-Free

The following suggestions will help you enjoy the season to its
fullest with a minimum of stress.
Eat Smart

Don’t arrive at a party starving; you’re likely to overeat.
Instead, before you leave home eat a piece of fruit, a small
salad or a cup of low-fat yogurt. Eating a healthful snack will
prevent you from overindulging on mini quiches and other
high-fat fare when you arrive.

Avoid handfuls of anything.
At the appetizer table, fill your
plate three-quarters full with fresh vegetables and fruit.
Reserve the remaining quarter for anything you want, even
if it’s high in fat, so you don’t feel deprived.

Don’t feel obligated to eat everything on your plate or to
have dessert.
And think twice before going back for seconds.

If you overeat, get right back into your normal routine the
next day.
Shop Smart

Give yourself plenty of time to complete your holiday
shopping.
Shop with an itemized list of what you’ll buy for
each person and a ballpark figure of what you’ll spend.

Brainstorm for gift ideas.
If you’re stumped on what to
buy, consider what’s important to the gift recipient. To
personalize a gift that isn’t personal, give the story behind
it. For a book, write an inscription that explains why
you’re giving it or mention specific pages the recipient
may find interesting.
Party Smart

Keep parties simple by having a buffet instead of a formal
sit-down dinner.
Serve uncomplicated dishes (made with
six ingredients or less) that you’ve made before.

Buy nonperishable party items days, even weeks, in
advance.
These include groceries, beverages, candles,
napkins and decorations. Save the day before to buy
items with a short shelf life, such as fresh fruits,
vegetables and flowers.

Cook ahead.
On the day before your party, prepare salad
dressings, stews, casseroles, cold sauces, soups, desserts
and dips. That way, during the party, you can spend as much
time as possible with your guests.

Hire a helper.
To make your party more manageable,
employ a teenager or a catering waiter to help you serve
during the party and clean up afterward.

Devise games guests can play to help spark conversation.
For example, tape a piece of paper with the name of a
movie character onto the back of guests when they arrive.
Challenge them to guess who their characters are, with
clues provided by the other guests.

Be sociable.
Attending parties when you don’t know many
people can be stressful. To break the ice, elect yourself the
official introducer. If you see someone standing alone, go
over and ask nonthreatening openers. For example, ask
these questions at a corporate function: How do you fit into
the company? Are you a spouse or an employee? What do
you do? What does your spouse do?