Trying to figure out what your upcoming holiday gatherings will look like this November and December? With just a bit of creativity, we promise the holidays can still be fun with your loved ones even when you’re six feet apart — or more — this year.
Focus on the social while social distancing.
Celebrations are important even if you won’t be together in person with family and friends — and you can still make special memories while everyone stays in their own home.
Here are a few tips on making the most of a virtual gathering:
Make it official. Create a guest list, set a date and time, and invite friends and family to attend. Mail some sparkly invites or take advantage of free online invitation makers or templates and email or text invitations to your guests.
Create the menu. Separate locations doesn’t have to mean different menus. Send out your favorite healthy recipes and ask your dinner companions to vote on the holiday menu. Check out our recommended recipes in Taste of the Holidays to get started.
Set the scene. Deck your halls with balloons, flowers and holiday décor — and don’t forget the mood music. Make a playlist with traditional favorites or mix it up with modern versions of old classics. Ask your guests to send you their top three songs to include.
Say “Cheers!” No holiday or celebration is complete without a toast. You can drink a glass of sparkling water between each alcoholic beverage or whip out the mocktails.
- Move more. Once you’ve finished the meal, do something active and fun together. Have a dance party or challenge or play charades. Walk around the block and belt out some carols (at a safe distance).
What to serve
Although the holidays are full of delicious foods, we all know that they can come with extra calories and unwanted sodium and added sugars. It can be fun to have everyone — even if you’re thousands of miles apart — make the same dishes. Here are a few of our favorites.
Try Festive Turkey Rice Salad for a quick and easy entrée that requires only minutes in the kitchen. It uses only a few ingredients including leftover cooked turkey and a handful of cranberries. (In fact, you can make this year-round using rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast.)
Need an alternative to side dishes that pack too much butter and heavy cream? With reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup, low-fat sour cream, whole-wheat flour and real onions, you can feel less guilty dishing up this Green Bean Casserole.
For something sweet, try our scrumptious Apple Bread Pudding. The seasonal fruit and autumnal spices in our version of this classic dessert make it a real fall treat.
Here are a few tips on keeping things light:
Instead of butter, use a healthier nontropical oil, light tub margarine or substitute equal parts unsweetened applesauce when baking.
Use fat-free or low-fat milk instead of whole milk or heavy cream.
Substitute white flour for a combo: Use half white and half whole-wheat flour.
Instead of adding chocolate chips or candies, use dried fruit, like cranberries or cherries.
Use extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint to add flavor, instead of sugar or butter.
Use whole-grain breads, rice and pasta instead of white.
Bake, grill, roast, steam or air-fry vegetables instead of deep-frying.
Use spices, fresh herbs and citrus juices to flavor foods instead of too much salt, saturated fats and added sugars.
- Compare labels of your holiday ingredients when possible and choose options with lower amounts of added sugars, sodium, saturated fat and no trans fat.
Join Healthy for Good to receive our digital Taste of the Holidays recipe cookbooklet and get tips on how to Eat Smart, Move More and Be Well all year long.