Last updated: Sep 27, 2010
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When your calendar is packed with dozens of holiday parties, it may seem like you can't relax and have a good time without gaining weight. But if you want to get through the season without widening your waistline, don't make excuses just because it's December.


Whether you're faced with a slew of holiday parties, a big birthday, or a wedding, the secret to staying slim is to treat special occasions as just another day. Don't build up the holiday season too much in your head or you'll end up overdoing it—and paying for it when you step on the scale in January. Too often people rationalize that they can eat whatever they want because December comes just once a year. But unless you want to add a super-strict diet to your list of New Year's resolutions, it's best not to fall too far off the wagon.

Before I head out to a friend's get-together or an office bash, I make sure I have a game plan. When in doubt, I stick to shellfish, salad, and veggies, and I keep fancy finger foods to a minimum. If the food looks complicated—think mini—quiches, puff pastries, and the like—that means it's probably loaded with calories. I choose two of my favorite and have a small sample of each.

If you don't have any dinner plans post-party, here's my blueprint for a figure-friendly night out:
2 fancy hors d'oeuvres (pick from Parmesan puffs, spring rolls, tartlets, etc.)
2 cocktail shrimp with sauce
2 skinny cocktails
A heaping portion of salad and veggies at the buffet
Sponge-size serving of protein, like chicken or steak

If you're headed out for dinner after your cocktails, stick to this:
2 fancy hors d'oeuvres
Unlimited crudites
2 cocktail shrimp with sauce
1 skinny cocktail

My most important rule is to surround myself with good company: If I'm busy chatting, I won't even notice a tantalizing tray of hors d'oeuvres go by.