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Tips for Healthy Holiday Celebrations

Ed. note: Originally published in the USDA The School Day Just Got Healthier' Toolkit for Parents.

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving will kick-off the 2012 holiday season—the start of the holiday parties, the family gatherings, and the annual temptation to overindulge in delicious food. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of the fun. Great gatherings are easy to do when tasty, healthy foods from all the food groups are offered in a fun, active environment. This holiday season, make the focus enjoying your friends and family. Check out these simple tips to make your holiday season fun and healthy.


(Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Tips for Healthy Holiday Celebrations:

  • Make foods look festive. Cut vegetables into new shapes, decorate plates with colorful, eye-catching fruits, or add a sprinkle of sliced almonds or green onions to brighten a plain dish. 
  • Offer thirst quenchers that please. Make fun ice cubes from 100% juice or add slices of fruit to make water more exciting. Create a “float” by adding a scoop of fruit sorbet to seltzer water.
  • Make moving part of every event. Being physically active makes everyone feel good. Dancing, moving, playing active games, wiggling, and giggling add fun to any gathering. Take a group walk around the neighborhood after eating, instead of going straight to the couch!
  • Try out some healthier recipes. Find ways to cut back on sugar, salt, and fat as you prepare your favorite holiday recipes. Offer naturally sweet fruit instead of multiple desserts, and try seasoning with fresh or dried herbs to add flavor to your meal. Serve up a new, healthy recipe—check out this NIH recipe collection for some tasty ideas!
  • Keep it simple. Have others participate by contributing a prepared dish, helping with the clean up, or keeping the kids active and moving.  Remember to focus on being healthy and happy—keep the stress low!

For more tips from, check out 10 Tips to Make Celebrations Fun, Healthy & Active.

Looking for planning tips on cooking turkey or answers to some of your turkey questions? Visit

Enjoy the holidays!