December 2010: Happy and Healthy Holiday Parties

Can the holiday be here already?  So much to do, so much fun to be had!

Ever since my kids were in preschool, I have opted to be the “room parent” for at least one of my kids’ classes. I love this role as I get to know the kids and teachers well over the course of the school year.  This role also puts me right in the center for school parties!  Over the years, I have witnessed some pretty amazing feasts of cookies, candies, and all kinds of treats that leave the kids in a glassy-eyed daze.  Now don’t get me wrong-  I love my “sweet treats” too!   It’s just all about moderation, right?

So how do you achieve moderation in sweets around the holiday parties?  For this month’s newsletter, I will share with you three simple strategies that I use with my kids’ class parties.  I will tell you ahead of time that everyone leaves the party happy – most importantly the kids!

1. Strategy #1:  Get the kids moving! If your holiday parties last an hour to an hour and a half, use a portion of the time to get the kids moving around to get their blood moving (and metabolisms going).  Good old fashioned games like “duck duck goose” (try a holiday variation like “santa santa sleigh” or “star star dradle”) work like a charm.  Other fun activities include scavenger hunts (if you’ve got a place for a lot of movement) or an all time favorite: freeze dance.  Another oldie but goody is Simon Says (make the moves active).  Whatever you choose, you won’t be sorry that you got the kids active—they always love it!

2. Ask other parents to help in a way that supports healthy behaviors.  If you’ve got a group of parents that want to help, assign someone to bring fresh fruit.  Assign someone else to bring a cheese plate with whole grain crackers.  Ask for water, not juice or sports drinks.  If a parent absolutely wants to bring in a sweet treat, I don’t turn these away, but I plan for the other things to be eaten to be on the healthier side.  Remember, it’s all about balance.

3. Plan some fun recipes that balance the sweet taste with some healthier ingredients. In the December 2008 Healthy Kids Newsletter, we shared with you 10 tips to make your holiday baking healthier.  In this previously sent Holiday Baking newsletter you can find all kinds of great recipes for cookies, so this is a great stop for your holiday baking!

For kids parties, however, we often don’t have time for baking or access to an oven.  So I’ve provided three ideas for some quick, 10-15 minute food based activities you can do with kids at a holiday party.  I’ve done all of these recipes with my kids classes with great feedback and success.  See if any of these appeal to you:

Holiday wreath. Take a whole grain bagel or a muffin, add a protein based spread, and decorate it however you wish.  Click here for the full recipe.

Snowmen (or women) on a stick. A super cute way to get some fruit into the kids!  Whole grain pretzels for arms, mini dark chocolate chips add sweetness in moderation.   Click here for the full recipe.

Edible ornaments, dradles or holiday balls.  These no-bake cookies made from nut butter, honey, and dried milk can be decorated in any way you desire.  They are pliable like playdough, so you can make holiday shapes, decorate them, and then eat them! Click here for the full recipe.

How do you celebrate healthy holiday parties?  Please share your ideas with us in the comments section below!

Happy Holidays!  See you in 2011!


Back copies of Healthy Kids Ideas Exchange are always available online.

Don’t forget to check out the recent posts on the Garden Tales and Simple Dinner Ideas Blogs!

Garden Tales:   a seasonal adventure for you and your kids to enjoy all the wonderful bounty of edible and ornamental gardens.

Simple Dinners Ideas: on-going inspiration for easy meals your entire family will enjoy.


This column is for information only, and no part of its contents should be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, recommendation or endorsement by the author. You should always ask your physician for his or her recommendation before starting any new health-related activity.

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