Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bonne fĂȘte!

Forgive me, dear readers, for my absence. I, like you, have been quite busy for the last month, and it took a toll on my blog. I had the most sincere and lovely intentions of writing you a “how to guide” to the holidays, I was froth with all of the wonderful rules and suggestions that I have for making the holiday season as fantastic as possible.

While I have clearly dropped the ball on the 2010 holiday season, I hope that you will accept my apology and we can move promptly onto New Year’s themed suggestions.  That being said, I had the most lovely and wonderful of holidays, and I hope that you did as well. For those of you still bursting at the seams with winter spirit, I hope that you will remember we still have a few more days to eat, drink, and be merry, in the most festive of fashions.

Have you ever heard the phrase “the devil is in the details?” Well, this is true. Yet, it is not only the devil that resides in the details, but the magic and wonder as well. The holidays, and New Year’s Eve, are all about the details.

I would like the theme of this particular blog to be centered primarily around New Year’s, but before we begin that, I’d like to tackle a much more pressing issue. What should one say to properly express our best wishes during this time of year?

First of all, did you notice that I’ve darted around the topic of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or any of the other religiously affiliated celebrations that occur during this time of year? This was done purposefully. From mid-November to early January, every year, without fail, it’s important to be extra conscientious of wishing every single person you see a “Merry Christmas,” while the sentiment is sweet, kind, and undoubtedly sincere, it can be offensive. When I was growing up in Los Angeles, it was a family tradition for us to have Christmas lunch at Canter’s Deli on Fairfax. We were often joined by family friends who happened to be Jewish. Meeting for lunch at Canter’s was a great way to share the spirit of festivity, spend the holiday with family, and friends (as holidays should be spent), and yet it kept things neutral and non invasive.  I received a lovely invitation from my neighbors for their “Christmas party” this year. While the invitation was lovely, as was the sentiment of the invitation, all I could imagine was how alienated I would feel if I were not of Christian faith, and invited to a “Christmas party.” I declined the invitation due to a scheduling issue.
 Whenever you’d like to pay someone a holiday-oriented sentiment, just remember, unless you know the person very well, and you know exactly what holiday they are celebrating (if any) “Happy Holidays” sends the most sincere, and correct statement.

It will literally warm anyone’s heart. Saying “Happy Holidays” says that you’re wishing them a very merry, happy, everyday in between mid-November, until early January. That’s approximately 45 days of good cheer, and tidings of joy, wrapped up into one simple little phrase. It doesn’t cost a penny, yet it’s worth its weight in gold. So I say to you, dear readers, I am wishing you the Happiest of Holidays.

Let’s move on to New Years, and New Year’s Eve.  If you have made plans for NYE, be sure to keep them. The last thing one should do on NYE is jilt their date unexpectedly, it’s the tackiest of faux pas one could make. If one has received another opportunity, proceed after the New Year. If you’re going on a steady date with your special lady or guy, be sure to make plans that you’ll both enjoy. Be willing to compromise so that you both have the New Year celebration that you want. If you intend to keep your dance card more open, then be sure to carry some breath mints, and business cards, New Year’s can be a magical time, and you never know who you might meet!

Depending on where you live, this may or may not be a piece of pertinent advice. I have the pleasure of living in a warm climate, where our lowest of lows rarely reach
20 °F. One of my greatest pet peeves about this climate is that people do not dress appropriately for any occasion. NYE is one of the only days of the year in my town that people dress up, even moderately. If you’re experiencing the same problem in your neck of the woods, just remember, if it’s cold, it is cold, dress appropriately, also, dress adequately.  Remember that you’re at a NYE party, not a clam bake. Therefore, it is inappropriate to wear flip flops, casual denim, running shoes, etc. Ladies, a slight heel, or a fancy flat, can make any outfit more fun. NYE is a night for false eyelashes and a new lipstick, treat yourself to a manicure. Gentlemen, treat yourself to a trip to your favorite barber, get a proper cut and shave. When you get home, iron a button-down shirt. I don’t expect you to put on a suit and tie if you’re going to a casual party, I do expect you to present yourself appropriately. Who knows, maybe your attention to detail, and dapper dress will land you the type of kiss at midnight that will change your life. Whatever you might do to prepare for your party, be sure to relax, and enjoy the last day of the year in style. You’ve earned it.

If you have been invited to a NYE party, be sure to RSVP if necessary, and ask your host or hostess if you should bring anything. I do mean anything. Word it like this, “What could I bring to the party?” “Is there anything I could do at all?” do not use phrases like “Is there anything I could do for you” because this implies to your host/hostess that they are not capable of planning or putting together their party properly. Even if your host or hostess says that you can’t help, and shouldn’t bring anything, remember that it is rude to show up empty handed. Bring something thoughtful, a bottle of sparkling apple cider, for people who don’t drink (at parties they are often forgotten and excluded from midnight toasts,) or a batch of homemade cookies, mulling spices from Williams Sonoma, the eternal fail safe, fresh flowers (NEVER carnations or colored daisies) or, perhaps the most appropriate a nice bottle of wine/champagne (it does not have to be expensive.) Moet and Chandon make a sparkling wine (just like champagne, but not from the Champagne region of France) that I swear by called Chandon, and it can usually be found for approximately $10-20 per bottle, if you have a better price range to work with, try Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label. It has always been my favorite champagne, and the holidays aren’t the holidays without it, again, at around $40 a bottle, you’re really getting a fantastic champagne for the price.

Another excellent rule of thumb for that evening is to make arrangements, be it through a car service, cab, or designated driver. Nothing is more tacky, thoughtless, or dangerous than driving under the influence!  Now comes my biggest, and best piece of advice: do not over do it. Last year, I’m ashamed to say, I celebrated a little too hard on December 30, and it put quite the damper on my New Year’s Eve Day. Pace yourself, drink water, take a vitamin/airborne when you get home from your celebration, and get some rest.

Readers, friends, and family, I am wishing you the most sincere, and happiest of New Year’s, I hope 2011 is more magical and wonderful than 2010. Enjoy yourselves, behave yourselves, and most importantly, Happy New Year!