The Handy Diet Guide

"Weight Wizard" Steve Richardson has some unusual -- if unscientific -- calorie counting tips for those worried about holiday overindulgence.

According to Richardson, a weight-loss instructor from Norwich, Vt., the calories in a slice of apple pie can be calculated by making a fist and facing it against the outside crust of the pie wedge. Count 100 calories per knuckle (by this method, a four-knuckle slice would equal 400 calories). As for Christmas cookies, try this calculation: Any cookie that's as wide as your thumb is long probably has about 50 calories (that is, if your thumb is the average 2 1/4-inch size). Talk about eating with your hands . . . -- Carole Sugarman The Local Potato Chip Connection

You might be tempted to buy Tabard Farm's potato chips for the attractive red canister alone, but the contents are positively addictive -- 1 1/2 pounds of thick, crisp, slightly greasy and wonderfully potatoey chips.

The potatoes are grown in Virginia, shipped to Pennsylvania for processing (where they're made in "the time-honored, hand-cooked kettle method," notes the label on the canister) and served regularly in Washington's Tabard Inn restaurant.

Available now and throughout the holidays at the Inn, the tins cost $12.50, or $15 for shipment anywhere in the U.S. -- Tom Sietsema Pre-New Year's Solutions

Still deciding where to ring in the New Year? Washington restaurateurs Jason, Joel and Rochelle Rose Wolin -- perhaps better known as the trio behind 209 1/2, Mrs. Simpson's, The Intrigue, Georgetown Bar & Grill and Foggy Bottom Cafe -- are offering as many parties as restaurants this year.

Varied fixed-price menus, plus entertainment ranging from cinematic videos (The Intrigue) to dancing (Georgetown Bar & Grill) will be featured at each of the establishments, as will champagne, noisemakers and hats.

Our favorite? The New Year's Eve celebration at Mrs. Simpson's, which will feature jazz from the '20s, a fortune teller and a continental breakfast packed to take home. -- T.S. More Handy Diet Guides

Contrary to Santa's traditional habits, Christmas stockings don't have to be stuffed with candy canes and caramel popcorn balls.

The Washington Healthcare Corporation is offering three alternatives. One, a packet of 12 recipes for non-alcoholic drinks, includes such fruity concoctions as Florida Fizz or Mock Pink Champagne (close to the Florida Fizz, with a spike of grenadine). And for those who like to live by the numbers, two separate guides -- one that counts calories of various foods, the other that keeps track of calorie loss during specific exercises -- are available as well. The other beauty of these fitness gifts is that they're free. Call 541-5787, Monday through Friday between 9:30 a..m and 5 p.m. -- C.S. Party With the Fruit of the Vine

'Tis the season to be generous, and Oasis Vineyard in Hume, Va., is being just that by offering its facilities (two party rooms, including a tasting bar complete with fireplace) at no charge to any group interested in merrymaking -- provided, of course, that the only alcoholic beverages consumed are purchased from Oasis Vineyard.

"People who drink wine are wonderful people," explains Corinne Salahi of the winery's gesture.

Oasis Vineyard is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for free tours of the winery and complimentary wine tastings, although arrangements can be made for using the facilities after hours. For further information call Salahi at (703) 635-3103. -- T.S.