The holidays are here again and we wanted to share some Christmas party ideas. During the holidays we end up spending several or more meals with extended family and friends. While this can be a great time for many people, for those with dietary issues, it can be a hassle.
Whether you are vegetarian, vegan or on a gluten free diet, traditional holiday meals can be difficult to muster. Even if you are simply trying to watch your fat and calorie intake you may have problems navigating holiday parties and family functions.
This can cause stress among family members, and can turn what is supposed to be a good time into a nightmare, not just for those with dietary concerns, but also for the host of holiday parties who often want to please all of their guests.
In this issue, we’re going to show you the best ways to navigate holiday meals without ruining your diet if your counting calories or getting sick if you have allergies. We’ve even got you covered from both sides of the equation, as we’ll give you tips for eating at a holiday party, as well as tips for hosting one, so either way, you can’t go wrong.
Whatever you do for your holiday celebrations, we hope you enjoy them whether with friends, family or those in between!
Family Meals and Dietary Concerns: What To Do Whether You Are a Host or Guest
Whether you are hosting the family Christmas dinner or attending a New Year’s buffet as a vegan, holidays can be a stressful occasion when it comes to food.
We’ve got a more varied diet than ever before, and while staying true to your principles can be easy the entire year, the holiday season can turn a routine holiday dinner into an all out war. We’re going to give you some helpful tips and tricks whether you are the host or the guest so that you’re holidays can be stress free and fun no matter what.
We’ll start with the host. Read on for some tips on hosting the perfect holiday dinner (or any party/meal with a lot of people).
Your first consideration should be the number of guests. If you are having a large party, with 50 people or more, it will be much easier to provide a variety of dishes without really worrying about who eats what; guests will likely find something they can eat and stick to it.
If you are having only a few guests, consider stating on the invite that you will be happy to accommodate dietary concerns the best you can if they let you know with plenty of advance notice. If it’s a casual affair with no invitations, consider letting people know ahead of time. This way, if they fail to let you know, you don’t have to feel as guilty.
Vegetarianism isn’t nearly as rare as it used to be, and it is easy to accommodate vegetarians. You don’t have to make a special main course unless you can of course, as long as you provide plenty of side dishes that are suitable. Remember though that a vegan diet does not include any animal products, so if you have a vegan guest, you’ll need to remember to skip butter, eggs and cheese.
Salads are easy dishes to prepare and require little to no cooking. They can be prepared in advance, and are also inexpensive.
If you are making something such as a vegetable that contains meat, try setting some of it aside before you add the meat if it’s easy to do.
Gluten Free Guests:
A gluten free diet, while definitely becoming more mainstream over the years, is still not quite understood by many people. It is also very restrictive, as there is gluten in everything from bread and grains to many processed products. In addition, even a tiny speck of gluten contaminating one dish can make those with intolerance issues sick.
The best thing to do is to first ask your guest how severe their reactions are. You don’t want to sound insensitive, but you also don’t want to make someone sick.
Do your very best to prepare gluten free dishes in a separate location from those containing gluten, especially things like stuffing and anything else made with wheat.
Buy fresh, whole products instead of canned or frozen, as often these things have gluten added in with preservatives.
Guests With Allergies:
If you have guests that have allergies, the best plan of attack is to clearly label dishes with such ingredients. If a guest has a severe allergy such as peanuts or shellfish, it may be a good idea to avoid using these ingredients in your menu altogether. It’s a bit convenient, but you don’t want something tragic to happen at your party.
For Guests Watching Calories:
You’ll likely find that this is the most common type of dietary restrictions. The best course of action is to plan lots of fresh and healthy dishes and sides, such as salads, veggies, and baked options. In addition to your regular dessert, consider having some fresh fruit.
Holiday Party Ideas:
Do your best to time everything properly to avoid making guests with restrictions feel excluded.
If you have a lot of guests with dietary restrictions, it may be a better option to make your meal a potluck where everyone brings their favorite dish. This way those with dietary restrictions will at least have something they can eat. This is also a great way to educate everyone on other diets and ways of eating.
Remember that you can’t please everyone. Do your best, but if someone fails to tell you about their diet beforehand, you shouldn’t let it bother you. Most guests with diet concerns are used to navigating party food, and will likely make do with what you have.
What if you are going to a party, and you have a restrictive diet?
While most people who have dietary concerns get used to going to parties, that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re in a room filled with people eating delicious food and treats while you can’t. Read on for the best ways to deal with attending a holiday party while still sticking to your diet.
First of all, if the host asks either in person or on the invitation if you have a special diet, by all means, speak up or forever hold your peace. They are often asking because they want you to have a good time. Do not use this as an occasion to tell the host about all the things you just don’t like however.
If the host does not ask, you can still speak up, although you shouldn’t expect any special treatment. If you have a severe concern such as a life threatening allergy, definitely speak up. Do so with plenty of advance notice however, not the day before.
Consider bringing a dish to share, but only after you have checked with the host. Most will probably not mind, but it’s always wise to check. And make sure there is enough for everyone at the party.
If you’re not sure what’s in a certain dish, simply ask the host. If they don’t know, you don’t have to eat it, but don’t risk getting sick to avoid asking.
Don’t expect for an entire menu to be changed because of your restriction. If you are gluten free because of a severe intolerance, it may be best for you to eat something beforehand and just go to enjoy the company instead of risking that piece of the stuffing may have contaminated other dishes. If you can’t enjoy yourself and the food, it can be stressful to try.
If you are simply trying to watch calories and don’t think you will be able to stand your ground, consider eating beforehand, or going after the food has already been served to just enjoy the company.
If you will not be eating, be sure to let the host know in advance so that they don’t waste money preparing food you won’t be eating.
The holidays should be a fun time, and while everyone can’t be accommodated all the time, you can enjoy yourself and keep up with your diet.
Wherever you are and whatever you eat, here’s to wishing you and your family the safest and happiest holiday season!
What other Christmas party ideas would you add?
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