By Brette Sember

Most of us look forward to all the goodies the holidays have to offer, but no one celebrates those extra few pounds at the end of the season. Luckily, it’s possible to enjoy yourself without gaining weight – as long as you stick to these tips.

Don’t under-eat before a party.

It’s tempting to starve yourself before you go to a party, but the best plan is to eat normally, says Kareen Turner, a registered dietitian. “When you try to ‘save’ your calories for a party, you are more likely to overeat.” Starting off the day with a hearty, healthy breakfast (Turner recommends oatmeal made with almond milk) will keep your appetite on an even keel all day and prevent you from making bad choices when hit your holiday event.

Watch what you drink.

Alcohol is a big source of everyone’s holiday calories. Four ounces of wine is 100 calories -- and most of us don’t limit ourselves to just four ounces. Think of it as a trade-off. The fewer calories you sip, the more goodies you can sample. Try this calorie-cutting trick at your next holiday function: Have a glass of sparkling water every hour, suggests Allison Stowell, a registered dietitian.

Eat mindfully.

Although you’re celebrating throughout the season, that doesn’t mean you can eat with abandon. Stowell advises you keep your socializing in mind when you hit the party circuit. “Focus only on the person you are talking to and then eat when you can truly focus on the food,” she says. “Too often, we overeat at parties because we simply can’t remember how much we ate.”

If the party comes with a buffet table, tell yourself you’re only going through it once. That way, you can scan your options, choose what you want to taste, and then be done. Don’t stand near the food table if you can help it, since it will just tempt you to nibble all night long.

Say yes to dessert.

But always ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” The answer might be yes when it comes to your aunt’s homemade cookies, but no to the store-bought cake. If mini-cupcakes and tarts are on the menu, take advantage: You can eat several and really feel as though you’ve indulged.

Go for the healthiest choices.

Shrimp cocktail is always a good choice (four large shrimps have only 20 calories) as is bruschetta, especially when it’s made with fresh tomatoes. Loading up on fruits and veggies will make your plate look full (and keep you away from the high-cal options). Give those veggies a heart-healthy boost by pairing them with tapenade, guacamole, and hummus dips. Indulge in mini crab cakes, chicken satay or skewers, since lean protein fills you up quickly. As for dips, stick to guacamole, tapenade and hummus.

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