Healthy Holiday Entertaining

It’s that time of year again: the street lights are decorated with garland and red bows, and you can smell Christmas in the chilly night air. The holidays are packed with parties and shopping and hustle and bustle. This time of year, I love to host a gathering for our closest friends. Here are some tips on what I do to get ready for a party and my favorite recipes for healthy entertaining during the holiday season. There’s no need to get frazzled hosting a party, with a few simple tricks, you can be relaxed and enjoy healthy food with your family and friends.

  1. Light the Candles.
    Pine, cinnamon, spiced apple, and everything nice. These smells are warm and welcoming to guests. It just puts you in a good mood smelling those candles. If it’s too warm to have a fire, add pillar candles to the fireplace for ambiance.
  2. Bring the Outdoors In
    I love to decorate with the elements from the outdoors like pine cones and acorns. Fresh rosemary adds a warm woodsy element to flower arrangements. Add lemons, oranges and cranberries to centerpieces for a lovely color contrast and natural look.
  3. Primp Before You Finish Cooking
    Nothing’s worse than having guests arrive while you are trying to figure out what you’re going to wear. Schedule time to get ready time before you finish in the kitchen. Guests don’t mind lending a hand with finishing touches on the food if need be. Keep lipstick and gloss handy in the kitchen so you can freshen your look just before the guests arrive.
  4. Plan and Prep Ahead
    Key to stress free hosting is finding recipes that you can prep in advance so you aren’t making everything day of the event.
  5. "Matchy-matchy" Is Out
    I don’t believe that everything has to match; it’s okay use different plates, napkins, and glasses. People feel more at home and relaxed when things aren’t too stuffy.
  6. Make a Signature Cocktail
    Apple cider or eggnog. Keep it simple and you’ll save money, there’s no need to have too much. Always have a pitcher of water available. I love to dress water up with cranberries and fresh citrus slices. It makes it fun and encourages guests to drink more water.

Healthy Party Appetizers
Here are six party appetizers that I'm planning to make this holiday season.

Plus…my own Mascarpone Stuffed Dates!

Mascarpone Stuffed Dates

Recipe by Kristina LaRue, RD

1 pound Medjool Dates with pits (I use Natural Delights)
8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
chopped pecans


  1. Remove pits from dates and create a cavity for the filling.
  2. Mix mascarpone cheese with vanilla and cinnamon until combined.
  3. Place cheese mixture in piping bag with large tip (or use a storage bag; cut the end off to create piping bag). Squeeze the cheese into each date.
  4. Finish each date with chopped pecans.
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Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN, CLT
Kristina LaRue, RD, is the sports dietitian with University of Central Florida Athletics, provides nutrition services for Tara Gidus Nutrition Consulting, and works in the treatment of eating disorders with Joyful Nutrition. Read her blog, Love & Zest—and connect with her on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and LinkedIn.