By Belinda Letto Family & Consumer Sciences UT Extension Clean, fresh water is among the healthiest beverages you can drink, so why not serve your holiday guests the best there is to offer. Since most sugary beverages add lots of extra calories to a meal, your guests will likely thank you for serving water. Here are some ideas that will help your water make a big splash at your parties: Add berries such as raspberries, blueberries or blackberries. Allow the berries to be slightly crushed as you stir them in with ice. Use a cocktail strainer when serving to remove seeds and pieces of berry, if preferred. Either way, the water will have a subtle sweetness. Slice cucumbers and add them to the pitcher along with springs of slightly crushed fresh mint leaves. The result is a cool, refreshing, thirst-quenching drink. Choose a citrus or melon theme. Slice lemons, limes and oranges and let them float in the pitcher or punch bowl, or add cubed cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon. Think ahead and freeze fruit and water in ice cube trays. Add to individual glasses as well as the pitcher, so the water contains even more fruit as the ice melts. You may also want to put some thought into the beverage serving container. A clear glass or plastic picture is fine, but consider other options, such as a uniquely shaped carafe or large beverage dispenser with a spigot. Many pitchers are made with infusers, allowing for the blending of flavors without free-floating fruit. Other healthful options would be sugar-free sparkling flavored waters, nonalcoholic beers or sparkling ciders. You could make a simple nonalcoholic punch from a variety of juices, iced tea and club soda, and keep it cool with an ice ring made of water and fresh whole, sliced or pureed fruit. Choosing water or other calorie-free or low-calorie beverages has benefits all year round. Replacing two 20-ounce sugary soft drinks a week with a calorie- and sugar-free option saves nearly 25,000 calories and more than 1,700 teaspoons of added sugar over the course of a year. Lastly, no matter what you might add to water for your party beverages, keep food safety in mind. Thoroughly rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water before adding them to the container. For citrus fruits or vegetables with a rind, like cucumbers, scrub them with a vegetable brush as you rinse.  

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