Insiders Guide To Holiday Entertaining

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Insiders Guide To Holiday Entertaining

The holidays are fast approaching and ’tis the season for entertaining at home. If you’re daunted by the task of hosting a gathering for the holidays or haven’t had time to pull it together, here are some simple do’s and don’ts for making even the most impromptu gathering feel perfectly planned and utterly chic.

Photo credit: Alba Betancourt

Welcome Your Guests in Style

Spruce up your front door with a fabulous wreath, even if you’re in an apartment! A little seasonal greenery is an inviting way to welcome guests to your home in style.

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Serve Food

A dinner party requires a lot of prep and has many components to consider such as menus, place settings, seating and centerpieces. If you want to simplify your prep immensely, throw a cocktail party instead! It’s much easier to serve cocktails than it is to prepare an elaborate meal. Plus, everyone has a great time when drinks are free-flowing!

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Keep the Drink Selection Simple, but Serve One Killer Signature

Serve an all-purpose red and white wine which are surefire crowd pleasers and then add a festive signature cocktail like cinnamon spiced eggnog, a peppermint martini or a fizzy holiday punch which is a great option for a large group.

Photo credit: Brooke Lark

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Focus on Presentation

Accompany your cocktails with store bought snacks presented beautifully on white, crystal or silver serveware. When I’m throwing a last-minute cocktail party, some easy and inexpensive go-to snacks include mixed nuts served in cut crystal bowls, kettle corn served in a stunning silver plated bowl and a simple cheese plate served on a white platter or wooden serving board that features a soft cheese like a brie; a sharp, blue cheese like a gorgonzola; and a firmer, aged cheese such as cheddar, with dried fruit and a few sprigs of rosemary for garnish. A beautiful presentation will make even the simplest store brought snacks appear super fancy.

Photo Credit: Brooke Lark

Set the Tone with Great Music

Take the time to curate a fun playlist that will set the tone and help create a joyous holiday atmosphere. No time to create a playlist? Try the Soul Christmas station on Pandora. It’s one of my favorites and you’ll find everything from old classics such as Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” to contemporary songs like Mariah Carey’s iconic rendition of “All I Want for Christmas.”

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DON’T Go Overboard with your Decor

Instead, create a festive atmosphere with ambient lighting and fresh flowers. Strategically place votive candles and twinkling fairy lights throughout your home which will add a warm glow and a bit of holiday sparkle. Add a bouquet or two of fresh flowers near your drinks and snacks spread, which is a great way to add color and life to your space. A simple bouquet of red or white roses is a great option and can usually be found at your local grocery or drugstore.

Photo Credit: Markus Spiske

Enlist Help

If you can, find a bartender or server through a service such as Task Rabbit who can help with serving drinks, replenishing snacks and clean-up. This way you focus solely on entertaining your guests. If you can’t hire help, be sure to have everything prepped and ready ahead of time so you’re not running around when guests arrive and enlist a trusted friend to help out so you won’t be too preoccupied to enjoy your own party.



Everything You Need To Know About Surviving The Holidays

Oh, the holiday heebie jeebies – my nickname for the stress that often comes with the fullness of the holiday season. There’s family and fun and frivolity, yes, but there’s also a gaggle of other feelings that arise during this time of year – stress, and sometimes even the Christmas blues. I’m shedding some light on how to enjoy the holiday season feeling as jolly as Santa, himself.

Make your list. Check it twice.

Before the hustle and bustle of Christmas can even begin, I plan a trip. Ok, so it might be a bit late for this now being December 1st, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a staycation. Nothing says laughter and love like your best girl friends. Get a group message started, buy the tickets, reserve the hotel, and even figure out which activities everyone wants to do. This way, there are no excuses for me to be able to get away and clear my head.

Planning out the activities ahead of time leaves me at ease while I am there and eliminates any sort of stress that could arise. Sometimes, though, no schedule is the best schedule. Wherever or whatever you can think of as a place you can relax for a couple days, I strongly suggest you make it happen for yourself. Do something that makes it solidified though, so that there is no turning back. Don’t leave it out there as just as idea. If you do, you’ll find excuses not to go.

Wake Up Positive.

Your attitude is in your control. You can wake up with a positive attitude; you just have to tell yourself that is how you will be. Wake up with intention to set how you would like your mood the rest of the day. Honor yourself and your emotions. It is okay to feel the way you feel, even if it is negative, but telling yourself that you will have a positive outlook will help just start your mood to transition to just that. Maybe doing something small for yourself that day will help clear some negative energy. Maybe it something as simple as a compliment, or maybe a manicure or maybe you have the time to treat yourself to a massage. Whatever it may be, find a way to rid the negative and let in the positive. For me, I’ve found that keeping a gratitude journal has helped. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night.

Find Peace.

If you are feeling moments where everything seems a bit overwhelming…just breath. In times of anxiousness our breathing pattern changes. An anxious breathe is too long of an inhale without the same length of an exhale. Pay attention to your breathing. Make sure to balance your inhales with your exhales. A balanced breathe brings balance to the body and brain. Paying attention for just a few moments can bring your anxiousness down to create more clarity in the moment.

Dance it out. Create a Mini Dance Party.

Think of a upbeat song that makes you happy. Play that song as loud as you can and just let the moment take over your body. All it takes is a few minutes to sing at the top of your lungs and shake your booty!  It will get the blood flowing, the endorphins released and send happiness throughout your whole body!

Dress Comfy

The last thing you need through stress and chaos is wiggling your body into uncomfortable clothes. My favorite go to item to dress up are simply workout leggings. The same leggings I would wear to workout in, I will dress up for a night on the town. They are super versatile and hug by body in all the right places. Take a pair of leggings, throw on an oversized cozy sweater, grab your booties, a long necklace and you are ready to go! Stylish, yet comfortable enough to roll around on the ground with the little ones in the family you will be seeing over the holidays. One of my fav brands? LA-based, CoEd Active!

Give Yourself a Break.

Even if you have done your normal routines to help create a positive mind, and you find yourself still a Negative-Nancy, it is ok! We’re allowed to feel the way we feel. Feel the feels, and let it out if you need to. Sometimes you just need to ride the wave and let the feeling pass instead of forcing it to pass. I have a difficult time with this, but the one thing that I’ve learned about myself and divorce this year is that you need to accept and acknowledge those feelings or they’ll be knocking at your door sooner or later. Just remember not to add to the negativity and be hard on yourself for feeling down. We are all allowed to have bad moments or even days, you are human, everything will be just fine! Be kind to yourself.

All-in-all, remember, the holidays are about love and laughter. Sure they come with stress and seeming overwhelmingly busy, but it is because you have a lot of wonderful people in your life that you want to spend your time with. Remind yourself of that. This time of year is made to appreciate those that are in our lives and create beautiful memories with one another!

Make Today Magical

Making today magical, in a Rose colored hue city [Jaipur] with Masala Chai, Gold and Emeralds.

I am currently traveling in India and if there is one thing I've learnt is nothing will ever go as planned. Even in life. Today, the plan was to get swept away over Jaipur. Thanks to Monson season, a hot air balloon ride, while the sun rose was a no-go. Inside I opted to go gem shopping and purchased myself a dainty gold ring with an Emerald Gem. ☁️

I had envisioned today to be the start of new chapter of my new life, as I watched the sunrise from above as the pink and orange hues painted the pink city. In quite possibly the most romantic way to start the day.

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Well, 8.28... the day has arrived. Time flies by so quickly; exactly a year ago today the theme to my life was significantly different. G and I were somewhere in Europe, celebrating 7 years of marriage, in a part of the world that symbolically represented us as a couple, because seven years prior our month long honeymoon was the inaugural tradition of visiting Europe, and always sneaking away somewhere in Italy. Italy was *our* thing, our places, our humble adventure. And for the last 7 years I had posted the same darling photo of a candid wedding shot--my favorite wedding memory that evoked plenty of blissful emotion--thanking my former partner for all the great memories we had shared thus far and for all the magical moments to come, traversing around the globe. I would never have imagined a year later life would be a contrasting difference, and that I would be somewhere in India, up in the air... uncoupled.

Truth be told, this has been one of the hardest years I have ever lived, being confronted with a new normal without the best friend I had for the last 10 years. It's also been the most profound year rediscovering the things I need in life, and truly feeling all the feels. Somedays, though far a few in between these days, feeling debilitated and empty, other days feeling alive and grateful for every waking moment. I'm not dwelling on emotions or holding on to my past, because to understand my divorce, my bond, and relationship with, you must walk in my shoes. You'd see an amazing bond, respect and fun-filled run between two individuals. But at some point, if you stop growing as individuals and as a couple, you must walk away. The hardest part was acknowledging that the magical bond and romantic love that connected us was no more, but the respect and love as still there. To merely co-exist would have been a disservice two both. The most challenging thing you can do in life is facing these feelings and let someone go for their happiness, and for yours as well. (You can read more about this here - no need for me to write about it yet again.)

When my divorce was finalized, I knew I wanted to be somewhere today. I didn't know where; but, I did know I wanted it to be a place to mark a new adventure in life to make today the best yet so that as each year passed on this day, I'd look forward to it and not dread it with a heavy heart. So here I am; I'm in India, sky high (did I mention I'm scared of heights?), remembering the best 10 years filled with some of the best memories, yet welcoming new ones. This year I've unintentionally have lived my version of "Eat, Pray, Love" in neither particular order.  Or, in my humble interpretation: eat and drink everything, pray (I really mean yoga and meditate) often, and simply learn to love my life, my new normal... every ounce of it. Rereading Elizabeth Gilbert's book, I now understand the message and can relate. I get it.

This is all part of the eat, pray, love journey in this phase of life. Being present. Being vulnerable. Being embracing. Being selfish for the things that bring me ecstasy. The act of celebrating and really truly enjoying your life... Every bit of it.

With that said, here's to life, more adventures, and being unapologetically happy.

Valerie Fidan

Valerie is a San Francisco native who gave up the comforts of home to travel the world continuously. Now based in Portland, OR, Valerie is a Social Media Marketing Consultant, helping solo entrepreneurs and small business owners DIY their social media by teaching them the in’s and out’s of SMM. She enjoys health hacking recipes, a good cocktail, yoga, hikes, live shows, puns & dad jokes.