How did November get here so quickly?

Conventional thinking suggests that a year has four seasons – spring, fall, summer and winter. The reality is a bit different. There’s actually a fifth season, the holiday season. It’s a force of nature too and calls for certain navigational strategies to make the most of this very special time of the year.

The holidays are, indeed, special. They’re full of festivities, celebrations and traditions. But mostly, they’re full of people — family, friends, coworkers, the neighbor next door and as hard as it might seem sometimes, you. Yes, you.

Dash away, dash away, dash away all!

As the calendar starts filling up with annual get-togethers and holiday parties, why not schedule something for yourself? In particular, something active you could do and invite family and friends to do too. Who’s up for a 5K walk over Thanksgiving? Or a 10K run to ring in the New Year? Getting ready could be just the ticket to keep the body moving throughout the holidays, and it could also help set the stage for a healthy 2016. Traveling during the holidays? Check online to find out what’s happening at your destination. And there are always regular walks in the neighborhood, touch football to burn off the most recent feast and longer hikes in nearby parks. For a lot of people, good cheer depends on staying active.

Something new for something old.

Another way to navigate the holidays is to get creative with healthy alternatives when you’re cooking. It’s true that some substitutions in certain recipes might be non-negotiable. Expectations are high for those family favorites handed down from one generation to the next. Then again, it might be the perfect time for an update so even more people love it. Coconut milk in place of heavy cream? Almond flour instead of white flour? The options are nearly endless.

Always welcome wherever you go.

There’s a bonus for making a dish with universal appeal. You like it too, and no matter what else makes its way to the bring-a-dish-to-share spread, you’re guaranteed at least one healthy choice and the start of the most nourishing meal possible.

For a great tasting finger food that’s welcome at any party, try Jerk Chicken Skewers. If the #1 strategy for enjoying the holidays is to keep things simple whenever you can, this dish excels in every way. It preps in 15 minutes and cooks in 12. Sweet and spicy, these mini skewers are the right bite at any gathering.