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1. Homemade soup exchange
Host a party and ask attendees to bring their favourite healthy soups. First, ask your guests to RSVP with exactly what kind of soup they are bringing so there's no overlap in recipes. Second, each guest should bring one big pot of soup (with enough servings for the group) and a number of smaller mason jars or BPA-free plastic containers to fill with the soup the rest of the attendees provide. Third, ask each guest to provide their recipe and make it clear if there are any potential allergens. Tip: Suggest that your friends bring freezer-friendly containers so they can easily store these healthy dishes for last-minute meals during the holiday season.
2. Healthy casseroles
Baking up a storm for holiday season? Bake in bulk and share with your friends. Whip up your favourite casserole dishes en masse but bake them into individual disposable foil containers. Mix up a spaghetti squash version, a chicken and artichoke dish or a classic veggie casserole. Again, make sure to provide a list of ingredients in case of allergies. Post-party, pop these in your freezer for easy home-cooked meals during the busy season.
3. Homemade breads
From a savoury loaf to a sweet one, homemade breads can easily be made healthy with the right ingredients. Some ideas include Irish soda bread, flaxseed bread, rye bread, buckwheat bread, banana bread or gluten-free versions. To up the healthy factor, ask your friends to make it their mission to swap in healthier ingredients like whole-wheat or red fife flour and for sweet breads to nix the refined stuff and add in applesauce or honey instead of sugar. Ask your friends to submit their recipes beforehand to make sure you have enough variety.
4. Healthy trail mix & granola
Store-bought trail mix and granola can be chock full of sugar and preservatives. A party is the perfect place to share new homemade recipes. Make up a package for each person attending the party and tie it with a pretty bow. Always make sure to list all the ingredients in each in case of nut allergies!
From sweet jelly to savoury tomato sauces, preserves are a gift that gives for weeks or months. Share your favourite local produce with your friends by canning each item, decorating the jar and providing a recipe. Bring enough mason jars for each friend and they'll do the same in return so everyone goes home with an even number to use for next year!
Bonus idea: Get your friends to swap their homemade beauty products
From deodorant to beauty masks, you'd be surprised at all the variations of beauty basics that you can whip up at home in the kitchen. Does your friend have an amazing DIY recipe she's always raving about? Dish your favourites and share. Whether you include mini packages of the ingredients you'll need (like yogurt, turmeric and honey) or pre-mix them (like mini coconut and shea butter lip glosses) it's a fun way to get creative and try out new natural products with your girlfriends.
Tips for the host: Ask each guest to bring one extra serving of their dish to serve at the exchange party. Then people can sample and discuss their recipe at the party and you can provide appetizers that go with the type of exchange you're hosting. For example, at a soup exchange pair crackers, bread and cheese with your variety of soups.