Children's Hospital Colorado

Happy, Healthy Holidays

A close-up of a girl with long brown hair, wearing a yellow knit hat and a yellow scarf, laughing as snow falls down around her.

How to have a happy and healthy holiday season

The holidays are about being thankful, spending time with family and making lasting memories and traditions. Keep your family happy and healthy this holiday season with these tips.

Holiday eating and lifestyle tips

  • Make a healthy treat together as a fun holiday activity, while taking the time to teach your child about nutrition and cooking. Try substituting healthier ingredients for recipe ingredients high in fat or sugar. For example, mix in applesauce instead of oil for baking with less fat.
  • Contribute a healthy dish to gatherings to ensure there’s something you can indulge in. To avoid overeating, nibble on healthy snacks like whole grain crackers, fruit or raw vegetables before the big feast.
  • Tasting holiday goodies like pie, cookies and other baked goods is fine, but eat them in small portions and in moderation.
  • Limit TV watching – but when you do watch TV, get up and move instead of sitting during commercials or turn on music and dance around the house.
  • Do fall and winter chores (like raking leaves and shoveling snow) with your kids. Go on active family outings like ice skating, bowling, skiing or walking in your neighborhood.
  • See more healthy eating tips for the holidays and staying active.

Traveling for the holidays

  • Leave early and allow extra time. Pack your patience!
  • Pack healthy snacks (like apple slices, whole grain crackers, pretzels, raisins, carrots, string cheese and granola bars) and a bottle of water or empty water bottle that can be refilled. For younger children, bring along an extra sippy cup to help avoid spills.
  • Let your children pack their own bag of travel games or quiet toys like crayons, books and coloring books. Consider stickers or art supplies that don’t have too many pieces.
  • Play games as a family (like counting all the red cars on road trips, finding license plates from other states, or playing “I spy" or “Go Fish”).
  • Pack a nightlight for your destination.
  • Make sure everyone has their seat belt fastened while driving or riding in a motor vehicle, and always buckle your child in an appropriate car or booster seat.
  • Teach the kids the importance of hand washing and germs. Have travel-size hand sanitizers and child-safe hand wipes easily accessible, and be sure to get flu shots before you travel.

Keeping the holidays fun and simple

  • Help those in need. Look at charities together as a family and pick one (or more) to support. Donate clothing, toys or your time.
  • A handmade gift (like a knitted scarf, homemade treats, or a framed photo) can be used and cherished by the recipient.
  • Experiences, like a family trip or outing or lessons, are wonderful gifts and can bring the family together.
  • Stick to your schedules the best you can, even when you're away, and be sure you build in down-time between activities.
  • Read about dealing with holiday disappointment and moving past negative interactions.
  • Create family traditions with tips from Harley Rotbart, MD.
  • Read more about having a stress-free holiday season.

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