It’s party time

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, December 10, 2011

Photo from Metro Creative Services

The holidays are a time for celebration, but make sure you enjoy it

Christmas is close with New Year’s Eve clipping close behind.

It’s party time.

Parties during this time of year are a tradition all their own, with an almost inexhaustible parade of variety to make guests welcome and ensure they enjoy themselves.

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However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take a page out of “A Christmas Carol’s” jolly reveler, ole Fezziwig, and bring a halt to everything so the fiddle players and dancing can fit.

In fact, the opposite is probably better.

“Keep it simple,” said HyVee registered dietitian Jen Haugen said.

A party, by it’s very nature, is a fun event, but if you are hosting it, there exists the stressful reality to make sure everything is just right.

This is where planning comes in.

“Where are you holding it?” Haugen said. “At your house or off-site: Determine what sort of facilities you will be at.”

Planning should take place a couple weeks ahead of the party just to make sure things run smoothly, and one way to do this is, make it simple and that could include involving a theme, which introduces some more variety.

You could have a small appetizer buffet or a cookie party where guests not only bring their own cookies, but can also decorate them as part of the fun.

From here, it opens up the possibility for guests to contribute openly, which can only add more to your celebration.

“I think people like to contribute,” Haugen said. “Try and get from the host what they want you to bring. Always check with the host.”

However, there are some who will provide everything themselves and here again a level of planning will be required.

“A good hostess thinks about pleasing their guests,” Haugen said. “Try creating what people like, but at the same time don’t be afraid to add something new.”

Either way, at most Christmas parties there will be food. Lots of food and at some point you will hear someone complain they’ve eaten too much even while they are forking up the next bite of pumpkin pie.

New Year’s Eve on the other hand can be a different affair.

“It tends to be a lighter meal,” Haugen said. “You’ve already gone through that Christmas dose of food and snacks.”

At this party you’ll be wanting more of an appetizer fair along with of course the adult beverage or two, but also one should consider non-alcoholic beverages as well, just to balance the party out for everybody.


Pint-sized partiers

If you are having a party, don’t forget the kids. They will be there and they should be made part of the fun going on all around them. Kids can certainly entertain themselves, but more often than not they will want to be part of what the adults are doing.

Who really has enjoyed being banished to the kid’s table?

But this creates a new challenge. How do you involve them?

By letting them help.

“Kids can have a lot of fun on their own,” Haugen said. “Have fun things for them, do something fun for them in the kitchen.”

This may include letting them dip the strawberries for chocolate-covered strawberries or letting them decorate the cookies.

Another good idea is giving them something hands-on to do.

“Get little crafts for kids,” Haugen said. “Kids love crafts.”

New Year’s Eve, though largely adult-orientated, can still offer something for kids. They will want to be part of the cheering at midnight as everybody does, but you may have to help them get there.

“You can have adult and kids parties,” Haugen said. “Let them watch a movie, get them involved into some games.”


Have fun

Above all things, remember, if you’re not having fun, what’s the point of having a party?

“It’s important to relax,” Haugen said. “Enjoy the people you’ve invited, that’s why you’re having the party anyway.”

Again, that’s where planning and a little bit of help comes in.

Around Christmas, when people hold their celebrations, the kitchen becomes the hub of activity and even though it could get congested, it can also be a source of the party’s fun.

“Have some help,” Haugen said. “That’s part of the fun.”


A freezer full of goodies

You will have leftovers. Just accept this and really who doesn’t love the turkey sandwiches, turkey noodle soup, so on and so forth?

According to Haugen its best to use these leftovers as soon as possible.

“They’re best used three to five days after,” she said.

However, turkey can be frozen and its uses extend from sandwiches to soups to yes, even pizza.

But make sure one thing you have leftover the next day its okay to sit on the couch and watch a movie.

“We all forget it’s okay to relax,” Haugen said. “The next day, watch a movie, it’s part of taking care of yourself.”