If you will be the host of a party this holiday season, you'll have plenty of control over the agenda and menu that you would as someone else's guest. Although your kids might clamor for your famous fudge, pecan pie or cornbread stuffing, you can plan a menu that also includes healthy choices. You can also drastically simplify the menu. When fellow humans somewhere are dying of malnutrition, it's almost arrogant to serve 3 meats, 3 starches, 3 cooked veggies, 3 salads, 3 beverages, and 3 desserts for Christmas dinner.
If you're Christian, think for a minute about the meals Jesus enjoyed in his time...fish, bread, water, wine...would he expect green bean casserole, pineapple ham, sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping and death-by-chocolate-cake for his birthday party?
If you present a simple, wholesome meal, you'll reduce your own food temptations and give yourself more time to enjoy the company of your family friends. This may be the first year in the history of your family that you'll be able to get down on the floor to help a child or grandchild discover the wonders of her or his new toys. Is a plate of cookies truly better and more lasting than that kind of miracle?
If you don't spend 4 hours eating at your holiday gathering, what else are you going to do? There are lots of possibilities: pose for and take photographs or videos, play charades, learn more about each other by asking and answering questions in a Chat Pack (questmarc.com), sing Christmas carols or karaoke style pop tunes, ask the oldest members of your group to describe the holiday celebrations of their youths. Don't waste your social time vegetating in front of the television for hours unless the program you watch will celebrate the season and/or stimulate interaction amongst your guests. If all else fails and the natives are restless, go for a walk together. We live out in the country now, but when we lived in a suburban setting, my husband and I liked to walk the neighborhood and admire (or critique) our neighbors' landscaping and seasonal decorations. It might be fun to take those antsy kids for a neighborhood cruise and ask them to vote for the best and worst outdoor holiday decorations.
Whatever you do, remember the reason for the season: the birth of Jesus, the festival of lights, the seven principles of Kwanzaa, the turning-point of the winter solstice...