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Holidays the Virtual Way

Two people celebrating the holidays shown on a computer screen

With social distancing recommendations in place for the foreseeable future, holidays may be a little different this year. We checked in with Melanie Marcus, Dole’s culinary trained dietitian and mother of two, for advice on how she plans on celebrating virtually this year.

“My family loves big get togethers, so going virtual is quite an adjustment. Usually we have way more food than humanly possible to consume and every seat in the house is taken. Over the past few years we’ve been fortunate to have several children join the crew which means our typical gatherings are kid-friendly with lots of activities to keep them busy! When thinking about going virtual, we’re considering a few options. Here’s what we have so far:

Like most families, we will be sharing at least one virtual meal together! No matter what, we’ll be picking a theme and dressing the part! Some fun ideas we’ve used have been Christmas PJ’s, holiday movie characters, ugly sweater contest and Hawaiian Christmas. What fun themes can you all think of?

When it comes to food, whether it’s a holiday feast or a Sunday dinner, keeping the meal prep and cookery easy is a MUST. Using a one-pan cooking method keeps kitchen tasks manageable both before and after the meal – making it easier to spend more time “zooming” with family. Dole’s Turkey Dinner in a Pan followed by Vegan Dark Chocolate Pineapple Truffle is what we’ll be making this year.

Another menu option is to take advantage of the opportunity to make a recipe that is usually contributed by someone else. In my house, my aunt Teri always made a delicious stuffing and Aunt Hedy always made my favorite spinach pie. This year we’ll share and all make one family recipe to help us feel connected.

Involve children of all ages by having them create a menu and placemat for the occasion! Kiddoes can color, create, practice penmanship and show each other their designs. We also plan on exchanging Secret Santa gifts. If you want to do this just be sure to leave enough time to send gifts in advance so they can be opened together over FaceTime or Zoom.

One other idea we have is to get crafty together. When little cousins and friends can’t spend time together, try having them do the same activity. We’re going to make edible mason jar gifts including Spicy Black Bean Veggie Soup and Banana Bread Granola. Kids will be able to measure ingredients and decorate jars. Older children can write out recipe cards.

After dinner, enjoy a dessert that is more hands on! We suggest our Dole Elves and easy DIY Macarons . You could also decorate Christmas cookies or assemble a gingerbread house. Don’t forget to ask older adults to get involved to judge the winner! “

Published December 2020

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