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Helpful Tips for Happier Holidays With a Picky Eater

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

Family walking out in a pumpkin field with each parent carrying one of the two children

The holidays will be here before we know it. Sure, the fun sugar season of Halloween usually doesn't raise too many red flags, but our picky eaters tend to stand out when it comes to traditional holiday meals at Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings with family and friends.

It can be extra challenging for us as parents to manage our kids' behavioral responses when it comes to big holiday feasts. Whatever we can do to prepare our kids ahead of time to minimize over-the-top reactions can only help in the long run to allow us all to best enjoy these special times.

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Here are some tips to keep in mind for your picky eater this upcoming holiday season (and the rest of the year, too). :)

Structure Settings for Success for Holidays with a Picky Eater

  • Keep a regular schedule for meals and snacks to promote healthy eating habits.

  • Have healthy choices readily available in the pantry, refrigerator, and when traveling.

  • Offer a new food when your child is hungry and rested. Limit drinks and snacks before meals.

  • Offer one new food at a time and pair with familiar favorites so that your child may be more tempted to try the new food.

  • Make simple menu plans to prevent mealtime stress.

A mother and daughter in the kitchen singing into wooden spoons

Make Food Fun!

  • Let your child help with simple food preparation - kids are more likely to try what they've created.

  • Present foods in fun shapes using cookie cutters, try color or other themes, use creative names for foods like "superhero spinach".

  • Kids enjoy foods that are 'their size'. Bite-sized food pieces, finger foods, and smaller portions create kid-friendly meals.

Holiday Mealtime Tips

  • Encourage your child to eat a good breakfast and lunch.

  • Allow kids to make choices from the foods on their holiday plates.

  • Prepare your child by talking about the upcoming meal. Review table time manners and expectations for food on their plate or tasting foods based upon their current eating habits.

  • Let kids serve themselves or choose the foods and amounts on their plates.

A family at Thanksgiving dinner posing for a photo

It's important to know that big gatherings with a lot of food on the table can create sensory overload for kids. Minimize the stress with no pressure to try new foods on these special occasions. Enjoy your family time and continue with healthy eating goals the next day! ~Coach Patty

Struggling with a picky eater at home? Get tips you can use NOW! Grab the quick, go-to Build a Better Eater guidebook HERE to help turn your picky eater into a brave taster!

Build a Better Eater book for parents of picky eaters

All blog content shared through HealthSmart! Kids is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as medical advice. Always talk with your qualified health care provider for managing your health care needs.

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