Saralee Perel

Award-winning columnist, Saralee Perel, can be reached at 

Her novel, Raw Nerves, is now available as a paperback and an e-book on

Holiday Hints to Chuck Before They Ruin Your Spirit

Must we be barraged every holiday season by those annually irritating experts who suggest we deny ourselves everything from one lousy cookie to a single piece of pie?

I'll paraphrase advice I've read and then add my opinion.

1. Fill up on carrots before going to a party. Bring some with you, too.

That's a great idea. When your host has painstakingly labored to make a billion canapés, she'll be thrilled when everyone grabs big fat carrots from their pockets or purses and gnaws on those instead.

2. Guzzle two gallons of water before the party, then only drink water while you're there.

Heck. Why don't we just lug the host's garden hose into the festive party room, turn it on and suck on it every time we're offered a cocktail wiener?

3. Belts should be tightened four notches tighter than normal.

We want to feel miserably uncomfortable when we eat an entire grape. Parties are more fun when we can't breathe.

4. A food pyramid is a nutritional chart. It is not a colossal tower of stacked meat. No food piling! Keep it to one layer.

This doesn't make sense. It necessitates making more than 10 trips to the buffet table.

5. Registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick writes in a Huffington Post article, "Never allow leftovers to enter your house. If you have a pushy host that insists you take home the rest of the crescent roll pastry Brie wheel, graciously take it but conveniently leave it in the bathroom on your way out."

Oh, this is a beauty. When I emailed this tip to my friend Mike, he replied, "Seriously ... who takes cheese into the bathroom?"

Plus, if everyone reads Kristin's article and puts food in the bathroom, that room will look like a separate party for the gastronomically impaired.

6. Stare at food for a full minute before eating. Then you won't be eating subconsciously.

Have you ever stared at an oyster the second it's shucked? Do you really want to see your food moving right before you eat it?

7. Circle the buffet table and blot everything. If food leaves an oil smudge on absorbent cloth, put it back on the platter!

When I blotted my mother's kishka (don't ask) using her handmade lace napkins, she disinherited me.

8. Do not scream, "Fire!" so you can be first at the buffet table. That would be stupid. But be sure you're the last in line. Party dishes look too tempting when nobody's swiped the good stuff, like the crab balls off the salad greens. By the time it's your turn, the food will look dreary, limp and tasteless.

Well, isn't that special.

The only things left will be portobello mushrooms. (Their name is French for big old flat doorknobs.) The lobster they were stuffed with will be gone. We'll be looking at gray floppy discs with gills.

And so, if you're a skinny person who can eat anything, we all hate you. For the rest of us, maybe we can enjoy some holiday food without feeling guilty.

At my house, you're welcome to stack, blot or pile your food. But would you mind not hiding it in the bathroom?