'Tis the season when friends and family drop by unexpectedly to wish you happy holidays.
How can you keep your good cheer and make surprise guests feel welcome? Try our host of ideas for healthful and festive foods and drinks—plus tips for quick holiday gifts.
Best of all, it's easy! You'll find everything you need at our stores. But beware—with all your warm hospitality, guests will probably be back soon.
- No-time-flat nibbles. Arrange a tray of reduced-fat cheeses and whole-grain crackers alongside apple and pear slices. Add a few olives and unsalted almonds.
- Delightfully exotic dips. Set out hummus (chick pea dip), baba ganoush (eggplant dip) and tsaziki (cucumber-yogurt dip). For scoopers, offer red and green bell peppers strips and whole-wheat bagel chips.
- Extra-special sandwiches. Turn sandwiches from "ho hum" to "ho ho" holiday festive. Pick up a deli tray of lean sliced turkey, ham and roast beef. Offer unusual toppings such as sun-dried tomatoes, caponata (Italian eggplant relish), chutney and flavored mustards, and breads such as challah, marble rye, sourdough and focaccia.
- Freeze for the future. Prepare and freeze a crowd-feeding dish like lasagna (lighten it up with lean ground beef, reduced-fat mozzarella and ricotta cheeses and low-sodium tomato sauce). When guests arrive, microwave it until bubbly-hot. Add a salad and whole-wheat bread for a satisfying meal.
- Your no-fail go-to dish. Whether it's your famous whole-wheat spaghetti with pesto and tomatoes or yummy goat cheese omelet, rely on a delish dish you can whip up in a flash. Keep the ingredients ready-to-go.
- Super-simple sweets. Set out broken-up bars of dark chocolate with biscotti cookies and dried fruits such as apricots, dates and figs. Sugar plums not required!
- In-the-spirit beverages. Offer a selection of holiday libations. Ideas: low-fat eggnog topped with a dash of ground nutmeg, chilled sparkling 100% apple juice (drop in a couple of fresh cranberries for a festive look), warm apple cider, and hot cocoa made with fat-free milk (add a candy cane stirrer).
- Last-minute gift stash. Surprised by an unexpected gift-giver? No problem! Keep a stash of small presents for just such occasions. A few festive options: our gift cards, a bag of pistachios tied with pretty ribbon, a bottle of wine, a tin of mulling spices, or a holiday-scented candle.