ByKimberly Button

Nov 19, 2014
Snowman in front of Christmas Tree

‘Tis the season for holiday gatherings full of food, fun, family and friends. Create a healthy gathering for your guests, as well as the planet, by considering the following four simple steps to healthy holiday entertaining.

Navigating food allergies 

  • Many people have food allergies and intolerances, but few people want to make a fuss by asking about the ingredients of the dishes that you have prepared.
  • If you have dishes that are comprised of ingredients not easily recognizable, such as a casserole with bits of mushroom and sausage, or a dip made with hot spices or mayonnaise, consider putting out little place cards by each entrée highlighting some of the ingredients.
Chili Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – Image courtesy of Elana Amsterdam

Preparing the right amount of food

  • When preparing food, we tend to prepare too much, so that there is enough for everyone.
  • However, we have all left a party where there were too many leftovers, no one wanted to bring them home, and they were needlessly dumped in the trash.
  • If you want to have plenty of food available, consider overstocking on vegetables and fruits, something that can be eaten as snacks the next day or used in recipes.
  • Still have too many leftovers? If your guests don’t want to bring them home, consider donating a plate of food to your neighbors or someone in your neighborhood that is out of a job or could be cheered up by a fully-prepared meal.

Skip single-use 

  • When choosing drinks for your guests, avoid the single-use containers of sodas, teas, waters and other beverages. Opt for large bottles instead to reduce waste.
  • Even better, consider giving up the sodas and make pitchers of spiced tea (hot or cold), chilled water flavored with mint or oranges, or a punch comprised of exotic fruit juices. These options are healthier, and produce less waste.
  • When entertaining, it is easier to purchase disposable plates, cups and cutlery to make your cleanup a breeze. All of that convenience is usually comprised of plastic, though, which is especially troublesome when used with hot foods and liquids. The heat can start to compromise the plastic, resulting in chemicals leaching into both food and drink.
  • Use plates, cups and dishware that you own; rent these items from a party company that will also come and clean up, or use biodegradable options made from bamboo or sugarcane, instead.

(Artificial) fragrance free 

  • When preparing a festive atmosphere for a soiree, you might be tempted to light scented candles throughout your home.
  • Keep in mind, though, that the scents of the candles will compete with the scent and smell of the food you are serving.  Also, many people are affected by artificial fragrances.
  • The term “fragrance,” unless solely derived from essential oils, can mean that up to 200 different chemicals were used to create the synthetic smell, and those chemicals are being shown to cause headaches, allergies, asthma attacks and many more problems in individuals.
  • For the comfort of all of your guests, choose unscented candles to add atmosphere to your gathering. Your guests will be appreciative, and the flavors and smells of the food and drink that you worked hard to prepare will shine through.
Image courtesy of José Pestana

The holidays can be stressful enough.  By following these simple tips, you too can create a healthier holiday season.

Feature image courtesy of Will Montague

By Kimberly Button

Kimberly Button is the author of The Everything Guide to a Healthy Home and the Editor-in-Chief of GetGreenBeWell , featuring modern, sane ideas for living a non-toxic life. A professional journalist for nearly two decades, Button has written for magazines such as Martha Stewart's Whole Living, American Airlines, AAA, Sierra, National Geographic Traveler, and Vegetarian Times. Visit for more information.