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Happy & Healthy New Year's Eve Party

Martina is having a happy New Year!

The typical New Year's Eve party is built around three things. Piles of junk food, large amounts of alcohol and an obsession with watching the clock. It's the perfect setup for the partygoer to end the year on a low note: Tired, drunk and full of unhealthy foods. What's worse is then waking up to the New Year while nursing a hangover.

Wouldn't it be better if your last night of the year was designed to make you feel better, rather than worse? Here are seven things you can do to end the year on a high note and feel good about it all in the morning.

Have a party at your house and invite your friends for a potluck. Encourage each of them to make their favorite "healthy dish." Serve everything using paper plates and plastic utensils so you don't have a huge cleanup in the morning. (For the environmentally-conscious you can get recycled paper products and bio-degradable plastic ware.)

Plan activities for each hour to keep guests moving. One game I like to use has everyone make two even lines. Give the two people at the front of the lines an orange and have them hold it under their chin. Then see which line can pass the orange through the entire line first, only passing from chin to chin. No hands. If a team drops the orange, they have to start over.

Another game is to provide a big bowl of long balloons. Give everybody 90 minutes to blow up as many balloons as they want and make them into something. Give prizes out for best animal, biggest hat, most elaborate and most creative use of balloons.

Try to choose things that keep people on their feet. Charades is fun with 6-12 people but having a limbo contest can keep a room of 50 entertained. Avoid activities that allow your guests to sit the entire time.

If you must go out to a bar, pick a place that has dancing. If you weight 150 pounds, you'll burn about 85 calories for every 15 minutes of club dancing. Dancing helps pass the time quicker so you're less likely to eat or drink more than you should and it also boosts your self-esteem. After a night dancing, you'll be more confident in your ability to follow-up on those New Year's resolutions.

Plan ahead to avoid getting drunk. One way to limit yourself is to go to the bank a couple of days before. Pick up a $2 bill or silver dollar for each drink you intend on having. If your plan is to have one drink and then a toast at midnight, get two $2 bills or two silver dollars. Then when you go to the bar, tip like normal EXCEPT when you order alcohol. Use your "special money" to tip for each alcohol drink. Once you run out of "special money," no more alcohol.

Think about getting away from the crowds and seeing the world at night. Bring along a loved one and take a walk along the river, on the beach or through a neighborhood where you can enjoy the holiday lights. No rule mandates you must be in the middle of a crowd for the final minute countdown.

For the ambitious, sign up for a midnight run or fitness event. There are dozens of 5 and 10K races and fitness classes held around the country. Some gyms even offer midnight boot camps, cardio and yoga classes. You'll be surrounded by healthy-thinking and like-minded people.

Finally, consider a night of service. Check with your local hospital, shelter, food kitchen or 12-step group to see if they need volunteers. Many charities and non-profits are flooded with people who want to help for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but very few are offered help over New Year's. Start a new tradition. It's amazing how good you'll feel when you do something for someone else.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.