Shimmer through the holidays

Darlings, you can moan and groan about the stress and expense of the holidays – or you can sparkle and shimmer your way through them. I know what I would prefer to do.

 Slogging through the snow for gifts can be tiring. Endless shopping can be draining both on bank accounts and energy levels. And holiday gatherings with boors can leave you feeling defeated.
There is a way to enjoy it and even look fabulous doing it. Follow our simple tips, and you too will shimmer through the holidays.
·        Start shopping now. Make a list and stick to a budget. Don’t overspend.
·        Shop online. Online shopping makes price comparisons easy and you save time, energy, and money. If you shop for people in other cities, you can often have the gift wrapped and sent directly, saving even more time and money.
·        Scale down gifts, if finances are tight. If you bake, consider baking gifts –believe me, most people love homemade treats. Bake one thing you do well and give it to everyone. Start buying your ingredients now so you can buy things over the next two weeks. Set aside a couple of nights or a weekend to bake and wrap. You can order professional cello wrapping online from many different sites very inexpensively and make your gifts look Martha Stewart-perfect! These sites are great sources for gorgeous and professional gift wrap too. I like to order large rolls of metallic paper and ribbon, as opposed to shopping for smaller packages. I also like the look of matching wrapping on all my gifts under the tree.
·        Visit an outlet mall now before the big crowds. Shop with a list. Take an organized friend and save socializing for after the shopping is finished.
·        If you plan to entertain over the holidays, reserve your date early. Send guests a pretty “reserve the date” email.
·        Consider cutting down on your holiday postage by designing an attractive and heartfelt holiday E-greeting. makes it easy to use personal photos in greetings and invitations. There are also many fabulous E-cards to choose from. I suggest creating your own email invitations to events also, as many people dislike E-vites and ignore them.
·        Holiday entertaining can be casual or formal. My husband and I have often enjoyed hosting a large holiday cocktail buffet. But a smaller sit-down dinner or a more casual afternoon open house also have charm and may be your style. Remember, friends also will enjoy dropping by for a good cup of tea and Christmas cookies, or for a drink and a little bite before a holiday concert or after a day of hectic shopping.
·         A cocktail or dessert get-together before or after a holiday event can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. Adding a bubbly beverage to a tasty plate of canapés or a luscious assortment of pastries or festive cookies amps up the evening with little effort. You can choose a delicious but inexpensive bottle of Prosecco or splash out with champagne. Ask for suggestions at your local liquor store; their experts will be happy to help.
·        Set your table a day or two before an event. Use your best china and linen –even the mismatched pieces, if they are pretty. Use ornaments in place or flowers, and add long-lasting greenery. Don’t skimp on candles. Use low unscented votives on any table where you will be serving food. Save high unscented tapers for the back of the buffet. Ikea and dollar stores are fabulous sources for these. Never place an open flame where anyone can back into it!
·        Decorate! Break out your ornaments and get creative. Many ornaments can be used to dress up a table top, or brighten up a dark corner. Add a string of twinkling white lights to your mantle. Polish up your bronze and silver, and make your home shine.
·        Trendy braids or chignons are great way to combat hat hair.
·        Wear colour to brighten up grey winter days. Keep your accessories near the door and change them frequently. A bright or hat scarf is “spirit lifter”.
·        Start planning your party outfits now. If you have a great black dress, suit, or skirt, a new sparkly bag or stunning new shoes may be all you need for a stunning new look. Looks for jeweled sandals, classic red pumps, or fabulous crystal- or gem-trimmed belt to lift your basics. Team a pencil skirt with a black lace blouse for a trendy and sophisticated look.
·        Feeling glamorous when the world is dazzling and bedecked is bound to bring a smile to your face, so make an effort to wear a little lip gloss and do your hair. There are few things more attractive than shiny clean hair. Add a bit of sparkle with fabulous earrings or maybe a fun vintage pin. But do not wear anything valuable to crowded shops – you could lose it.
·        Get enough sleep. I know that it may sound impossible, but try. Being over-tired makes everything seem more onerous and daunting. Limit time on the computer playing games or in aimless surfing or facebook updating. Learn to turn off, relax and sleep. Sleep-deprived people are more likely to gain weight and drink too much, too.
·        Schedule time at the gym with the same vigilance and passion that you would schedule a meeting with your boss or lover. Take a class or meet a friend to catch up – but do it on the elliptical.
·        Avoid conflict. The holidays are lovely, but they can stir up emotions, as people fail to meet their own expectations or feel pressured by demands, real or imagined. Learn to defuse conflict. Change the subject before losing your temper. Avoid anyone who makes you feel badly about yourself. If your bête noire is a family member, learn to smile and tune out. Limit the time you spend in their company.
Pop a cork -make mine pink!·        Even if you are alone, start your own traditions. Perhaps you enjoy a certain type of holiday cookie. Bake or buy them. If bubbles make you feel festive, invite friends to pop a cork or two.

Holiday etiqutte tips


Jacqueline WhitmoreAvoid sticky situations this holiday season with tips from Jacqueline Whitmore. The internationally-recognized etiquette expert and author of the new book, Poised for Success, will give you the low-down on dress codes, E-vites and more!
  • If one of your guests brings a bottle of wine or something special to eat, such as nuts, chocolates, etc., consider it a gift (a hostess gift) to be enjoyed at a later date or on a special occasion. 
  • If you know ahead of time that a guest is a vegetarian, you might want to prepare a couple more vegetable side dishes.  There is no need to make a separate entrée for her.   
  • It is the guest’s responsibility to alert the host ahead of time if you don’t eat certain foods for ethical, medical, or religious reasons. 
  • If you are hosting a last-minute party during the holidays, it’s faster to send invitations via email or Facebook, but don’t expect a huge response.  Remember that the more formal a party is the more formal the invitation must be.  And the most formal invitations are sent via the postal service.  
  • If you have to cancel, do it as soon as your plans change and do it by phone or in person.  It’s considered poor form to cancel via email or to forget to cancel altogether.   
  • It puts the host in an awkward situation if you ask to bring an uninvited guest or worse, your kids.  If you are unable to find a sitter or change pre-existing plans, graciously bow out, and if the host insists that you bring your guest or kids, then you may do so.  
  • It’s always good etiquette to send a handwritten thank-you note within 24-48 hours after attending a party.  At the very least, call the host the next day and say “thank you.” 
  • Great gift ideas include a bottle fine wine (if the person drinks alcohol), a plant or a bouquet of flowers, gourmet chocolates, brownies, or nuts, scented candles, a handmade gift or personalized cocktail napkins with the host’s initials.  
  • Apologize and turn off your cell phone if you hear it ring.  If the call is important and you must take it, excuse yourself, step outside the room, and take the call in private, and remember to keep the call brief. 
  • Dress codes can be tricky (and confusing).  If you’re just not sure what to wear, call the host and say, “What will most people be wearing to your event?”





Shiny hair

The new Magnolia range from Klorane leaves your hair super shiny and manageable with just three products. 

According to Klorane, “it took over 20 years of fighting to survive France’s harsh winters for the first magnolia bloom to appear — a true testament to the plant’s natural protective and hydrating mechanisms. Experts at the time attributed this phenomenon to the plant’s strong, glossy, hydrophobic leaf-protecting wax.”
This new line uses a “proprietary method” to extract the magnolia leaf’s wax, “the source of its natural hair care benefits.”  The wax is extracted from Magnolias harvested in the southwest of France. Klorane experts explain “it mimics hair’s protective, natural hydrolipidic film to smooth the cuticle for maximum light reflection, hydration and natural protection.”
We love how this new range leaves even fine colour-treated hair smooth, shiny, and full of body. The leave-spray makes blow-drying a snap.
In the line there is Magnolia Shampoo and Magnolia Conditioner, as well as a Leave-In Spray that helps to protect hair from heat styling. All the products smell delightful and fresh.
The products all contain Klorane’s special Magnolia wax and patented shine-activating polymer.

Holiday hair

At Chanel they went baroque. We love the look. There is nothing like a clean shiny hair and a little sparkle to lift your look and your spirit. Some of the hottest runway looks this season feature sexy braids, updos, ponytails and chignons, decorated with jeweled hair ornaments. At Chanel, hair accessories are positively baroque. We love the look.

Use a “bejeweled” comb, barrette, or pretty headband to hold back your locks.
Do your up your own do with these ornaments  from GoodyL. Erickson jewels for your locks $45Splash out on pricy little bijoux to tie up your tresses, or pick up something cute and trendy from the drugstore or Target.

Revive dry damaged hair

Fabulous dress, stunning shoes, gorgeous make-up — all topped by dull, dry hair! What a disaster when your hair looks fried. You can style it, but until you find a way to bring it back to life, all the money in the world won’t save your look.

The Karité range of products from the exclusive French hair care line Rene Furterer brings back shine to the driest, dullest tresses.
It contains Karité oil or Shea oil that is a good source of essential fatty acids as well as being a natural UV filter. The products also contain phospholipids to help repair damaged strands, and "Cimentrio," a complex of phytosterols, ceramides, and essential fatty acids to help repair the hair’s keratin structure.
To revive dry, damaged hair:
Pre-treat dry locks with Karité Intense Nourishing Oil.
Wash gently with Karité Intense Nourishing Shampoo.
Follow with Karité Intense Nourishing Mask.
There are also two optional steps:
Karité No Rinse Nutritive Concentrate, a leave-in treatment to repair very damaged hair.
And No Rinse Repairing Serum leave-in with plant oil. This serum protects and repairs hair. It can be used to keep hair smooth and shiny during styling.
All the product have a lovely and natural scent of orange, verbena, orange blossom, and vanilla.

A holiday romance

Comfort and Joy by India Knight is a holiday romance as only the Brits pen them. It reads like a cross between Love Actually and Bridget Jones’s Diary. I loved it.  

Comfort and Joy chronicles the Christmas celebrations and love life of Clara Dunphy and her modern blended family.
She loves the holidays and does them up properly, with decorations, gifts, feasting, and family and friends. Clara’s gatherings include ex-husbands and ex-in-laws, as well as various friends with own children, boyfriends, and others. 
Knight has created an unforgettable cast of characters, including Clara’s feisty working-class mother-in-law, Pat, and her own sophisticated, bohemian mother, Kate. Hope, Clara’s man-hungry Facebook-cruising friend, is a character that many readers will recognize.
Comfort and Joy is a wry muse and moan about the drama and drudgery of   Christmas. Knight captures delightfully the dilemma many women today face trying to balance family with marriage and passion. Comfort and Joy is the perfect way to escape the seasonal frenzy.

Star-crossed lovers

Alexandra Potter’s You’re (Not) The One is a hysterical look at modern love in the big city – with a touch of magic.  

Transplanted London gallerist and artist Kate has nurtured a secret passion for her old boyfriend Nate for ten years. She and Nate spent one magical summer in Venice before going their separate ways. But, she has secretly always considered him “the one.” They were given a strange mystical gift under The Bridge of Sighs in Venice. An old man split an old coin in two to make two necklaces. He told them it represented a love that could never be broken.
Ten years later, a grownup Kate is now living Manhattan and working in a gallery when she runs in to Nate. Her romantic college lover and travel companion is now a soon-to-be divorced, uber-successful TV executive. Now Kate will see if the coin necklace was a blessing or a curse, when she and Nate are reunited.
You’re (Not) The One is a humorous look at what happens when love is hampered by too many conditions and expectations. It is funny, romantic, and unexpected — and a perfect read for a chilly winter night.

Give yoga!

Passport to Prana might be the perfect gift for anyone who loves yoga or wants to explore it. Passport to Prana is a card that lets the owner explore different yoga studios in a single city. The cards cost $30, plus $3.50 for postage.  

Cards are available for most large American and Canadian cities. Once the card is activated, the owner can pay one visit to each studio or studio location of all the member studios. What a great way to discover yoga or find the perfect studio!