Blog Posts by Real Simple Magazine

  • Healthy holiday-eating strategies

    By Karen AspFend off holiday weight gain with these easy eating tricks. And don't miss these holiday tips:Gingerbread Treats for the HolidaysDrink Pairings for a Holiday Meal35 Easy, Elegant Recipes for Christmas Dinner

  • How to be a good holiday guest

  • The healthy holiday party food guide

    Which is better for you, hard or soft cheese? Roast beef or Ham? Real Simple helps you make the healthy eating choice this season.By Sally Wadyka More holiday tips:The Stress-Free Holiday Party PlanHoliday Recipes Real Family Kitchens10 Ideas for Sugar Cookie DoughWays to Straighten Up After a Holid

  • 7 secretly (and shockingly) unhealthy foods

    photo credit: Michael Rosenfeld, Getty 1photo credit: Michael Rosenfeld, Getty 1You've been watching what you eat, and yet the pounds refuse to budge. These secret diet saboteurs may be to blame.
    by Kate Rope

    You know how some sneakers are specifically engineered for workouts and others, it turns out, are suited for nothing more than making fashion statements? Well, foods are like that too. Some are dressed up to look like they're good for you when in fact they're anything but. When you're trying to eat well, it can be maddening when unhealthful impostors-filled with sugar, fat, and sodium-undo your good work. Here's how to spot and stop seven of them.

    Related: 24 Nutritious (and Tasty) Snacks

    1. Energy Bars
    Just because they come in a tiny package that says they're loaded with vitamin and minerals, energy bars are not necessarily a healthy choice. In fact, "a lot of them are nothing more than glorified candy bars," says Sari Greaves, RD, nutrition director for Step Ahead Weight Loss Center in New Jersey. "They can be packed with enriched white flour, high

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  • Ideas for exchanging Christmas gifts

    photo credit: Bob Hiemstraphoto credit: Bob HiemstraSure, you could just hand over a gift, but why not present your presents in a more creative way?
    by Vanessa DiMaggio and Sarah Humphreys

    This is a fact: It's woefully easy to get overwhelmed by the prospect of purchasing-or making-holiday gifts. But don't let that suck the joy out of the actual act of giving itself. A gift exchange should be fun; with the right approach, it can also be imaginative, rewarding, and, yes, even a way to cut back on presents. Holiday party planners, etiquette experts, and readers share strategies for making a gift exchange more memorable.

    Make Gift-Giving More Surprising

    For Friends and Family:

    • Start a rotating gift box. Anna Baldwin, a reader from Arlee, Montana, does this with her three best friends from college: She fills a box with locally made, low-cost items-one for each friend-and a personal note, and mails it off. The first friend takes out a gift, puts in three of her own, adds to the note, and ships everything on to the next. The box
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  • 5 surprising items to save for your kids

    Preserve memories for your children with these unexpected keepsakes.
    by Sarah Robbins

    1. Insignificant objects from significant occasions.
    People should pass along the diamonds and the Picassos. Kidding! In all seriousness, focus on keepsakes that represent something you're passionate about, things that will help your kids understand what matters to you. In 1968 I went to a concert in London featuring the Doors and Jefferson Airplane. A handbill was given out, and I held on to it. I kept it in a folder, and each time I moved, I would find it again. I didn't think much about it until I talked to the person who appraises rock memorabilia for the TV show I appear on. To my surprise, that handbill was valued at about $1,000. But, of course, in terms of nostalgic value, it's worth even more.

    Eric Silver is the director of Lillian Nassau, a New York City-based antiques gallery, and an appraiser on PBS's Antiques Roadshow.

    Related: Start a New Family Tradition

    2. Something mortifying from

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  • The Dos and Don’ts of Sending a Holiday Letter

    When a holiday card just won't cut it, follow these guidelines for a well-written (non-obnoxious) holiday newsletter.

    Sending out a holiday newsletter that recaps your year and shares what your family has been up to is a lovely tradition. But it's one that can quickly cross into over-share territory or poor manners. Real Simple talked to etiquette experts to find out how to craft the perfect year-end letter.

    Related: 30 Magical Holiday Cards

    Whom to Send it To
    It's important to make the distinction between the personal and professional contacts on your list. You don't need to send your accountant, your boss, or your clients an update on your son's winning soccer season, or your family trip to the Grand Canyon. However, there may be some crossover with long-term business acquaintances who have become friends. When in doubt, ask yourself if you would like to receive a holiday update from them, recommends Michelle Slatalla, Real Simple's Modern Manners columnist. If you would like to be

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  • Solutions for 10 difficult sibling scenarios

  • Inside the God Box

    What if you could catch a glimpse of every hope-big or small-your mother ever had for you? Here, one daughter's story of enduring love.
    by Mary Lou Quinlan

    José PicayoJosé PicayoIn May 2006, I lost my mother, Mary Finlayson. I miss so much about her-those moments when we laughed or cried at the same things; our pet names for each other ("I love you, Anna Banana," we'd say); and how we would end our nightly calls by pressing our palms to our phones and whispering, "Hands on," our mantra for always staying close. What I long for most is the way Mom could make me believe that everything would be OK.

    Related: Mother-Daughter Relationships

    She was my one-stop problem-solver with her own secret weapon: the God Box, her simple way of coping with the stresses of life. It wasn't anything fancy, just a series of trinket boxes filled with her typed or handwritten requests on behalf of me; my younger brother, Jack; and the love of her life, our father, Ray. Mom would scrounge up any old piece of paper-the back of a

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  • 10 ideas for sugar cookie dough

    By Sara Quessenberry

    Holiday treats (made from the same dough) that are anything but cookie-cutter.

    All the cookies featured below use 1 recipe of Basic Sugar Cookie Dough. Bake the cookies at 350º F on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 1½ inches apart. Cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. The total times in the recipes include the making of the dough. Do not substitute slice-and-bake dough from the supermarket; the cookies will not hold their shape when baked.

    Get the recipe for Basic Sugar Cookie Dough.

    More holiday recipes and tips from Real Simple:

    25 Deliciously Decadent Holiday Desserts

    The Twelve Lists of Christmas

    Best Baking Tools for the Holidays

    Easy Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

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