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. Pinick.com 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.
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