Saturday, December 12, 2009

Words Of The Season

According to the NYT T Magazine, the word of the season is wine flu, as in "an annual pandemic whose outbreak coincides with the holidays, usually the morning after an office party". I love it!

And while on the subject of words, let's not talk about Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Solstice anymore. Or at least in a way that's fraught with fragile pc overtones. If you do Christmas, then say Merry Christmas. You should be able to evoke your holiday sentiments and others should accept them. My holiday sentiments, or lack thereof, do not have to mirror yours. You can Happy Wicca Solstice Pagan Druid Day me to death and I will accept it with grace and a smile. If I only celebrate Festivus, then I should be able to Happy Festivus you without a lecture. Can't we all just get along?

And also while on the subject of words......I have been asked many times why I insist on self-identifying as a feminist. The prevailing wisdom seems to be that the hard work is over and we're all just one big gender-neutral equal society. As someone who works in a traditionally male-dominated career, I can tell you that is far from the truth. Not to be a downer in a post that started with wine flu, nevertheless I feel compelled to shine the light on this asspipe's letter to the editor concerning Tiger Woods and his wife Elin. It appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal, a once proud and compelling journalistic enterprise that is now sadly 16 wafer-thin sheets of AP drivel bound together by ads for thermal windows and mattress stores. This particular pulitzer-worthy piece is no longer showing up in the archives but in essence the writer started by saying that Elin was "just a bikini" when she met Tiger Woods and as such, would never be able to repay him for marrying her and giving her the life of a queen. He also said she should now focus on fulfilling her marriage vows to him because no matter what he did to her, the scales would never be balanced. Really attractive stuff. This is why I am a feminist. People want to think that a nutjob like this is an anomaly but what he really is a the darker side of many of our beliefs. He just doesn't have a filter.

Nothing like a rant. I feel better. Happy Festivus Chrismukkahzaa to you all!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Five Tips For Giving Excellent Hostess Gifts.

I touched on giving hostess gifts in a recent post, basically saying to be prepared so you have them on hand before you are walking out the door to the function. Giving hostess gifts is an art and a science and a necessity. People who open their homes to you are giving on several levels. They are bringing you into the most intimate part of their lives. They are providing some combination of food, drink and entertainment. They are giving time to clean out the cobwebs and make their space inviting to you.

On the other side you have a few obligations, too. You must r.s.v.p. and do what you say you are going to do. R.S.V.P.'ing is a weakness of mine and every time I've let an invitation go by I feel like crap so I am very conscious these days of responding properly. You must mingle and not tie yourself to the people you came with. You must fully engage in the festivities. And you must bring a hostess gift.

During the holidays even the most shy introvert will have some engagements so here are a few pointers to make the holiday hostess giving painless and make you look brilliant:

  1. It doesn't have to be expensive. Packaging is half the battle in this game. A gift from the Big Lots will be well received if it's nice and looks like you bought it at a boutique. You know the bows and packaging you never use because it's too nice? Now's the time to use it.

  2. Alcohol is always good. Unless you're visiting teetotallers. Wine is not always a great idea because people tend to try to fit it into their dinner scheme, thereby disrupting their carefully thought out pairings. A special wine, though, like an ice wine, a dessert wine, or a port are good, and champagne is always a winner. Just say something like, "Here's something for the two of you to enjoy later when you've recovered from all of this effort," letting them know they don't have to serve it that evening. Here in Kentucky we are awash in bourbon and a small batch or special blending is always welcome. Cocktail related items are another excellent choice.

  3. Go local. Are there special ornaments tied to local events or areas? Museum gift shops, craft guilds and art galleries are full of yearly ornaments celebrating all sorts of things. We have fabulous fudge from a Trappist monastery close to us that makes a lovely gift. Give a little money to your local businesses and make your gifts more personal at the same time.

  4. Now is not the time to involve charities or your pet causes. Noone wants a pair of rabbits donated from heifer international as a hostess gift, no matter how worthy the cause. They also don't want your PETA Calendar full of coupons. They don't want to be changed or helped in any way or have to engage heavily during what should the simple matter of greeting you at the door.

  5. Do not bring anything that must be handled. That means no flowers that have to be put in vases. Nothing that must be shown around. Nothing that involves them doing anything more than turning around and sitting it on the table behind them. If it's wrapped, don't push them to open it, either. They can do that later when they've finished cleaning up. Then, they'll open it, be amazed at your good taste and immediately put you at the top of their guest list for next year. If you don't want to be invited back, please give accordingly.

      Sunday, December 6, 2009

      Time To Upgrade The Basics In Your Wardrobe At A Discount

      Happy Sunday to you all! I am ensconced on the couch in Travis McGee's robe and wrapped up in one of those velvety blankets that feel like heaven. My coffee is hot, the Christmas tree is lit and there is a puppy snuggled up next to me. Life, this morning, is excellent.

      So now we turn our attention to ourselves. In the midst of the holiday whirlwind it is occasionally important to think of me, me, me and you, you, you. Everything is for our Secret Santa, the cookie exchange, the office Christmas party, our families wants and needs. Well, now, while everything is on sale and you are going to be out and about online and in the real world anyway, let's focus on what you and I might want or need.

      This season is a good time to pick up some wardrobe basics and an occasional splurge. You know I am cheap and I love a bargain. But, as witnessed by this post where our dog was impelled to be a supermodel to show off my Pucci scarf, I like a little splurge as well as anyone else. Once in the spring and once in the fall, if possible, I like to pick up something special for myself. The pucci scarf was my spring item. Found in a consignment shop for a fraction of the original price, it is still new to me and packs a style punch that will never go away. This fall, while in Las Vegas, I picked up my fall splurge and birthday present all in one. These Tory Burch flats were half price and worth every penny. They can be worn with anything, they are understated yet beautiful and they will last forever
      In the spirit of giving to ourselves, here are a few places to pick up some basics and splurges right now for yourself or, if you must, for someone else:

      Coach. They are offering 20% off any item already reduced. I bought my first Coach bag in 1984 and still have it. They are indestructible and can be your basic go-to bag for years to come. Go here to print the coupon. Good thru 12/13/09.
      Talbots. I used to think Talbots was a granny store, but they are indispensible for things like lined black trousers that will wear forever and look more expensive than they are. They are offering a BO/GO half off through 12/6/09 and this includes any merchandise including their online outlet. Go here to start shopping. This online outlet is the last resort for Zappos goods. There are some excellent deals to be had but one has to be vigilant. Last week Donald J. Pliner shoes and bags were 70% off. I purchased a pair of Rockport driving shoes for Travis McGee for $19. Right now Trotters shoes are 80% off. This brand is excellent for sturdy, attractive work flats and pumps and at $15/pair, a great way to bolster your basic wardrobe. If you need some fluff in your stocking, Betsey Johnson is also 50% off. Go here to find a deal.
      Saks. I used to love Off 5th stores. Now mostly they are respositories for the last vestiges of their house brand. Once they pulled their plus sizes from the outlet stores, I was done with them. Even so, if you have an Off 5th near you, this 40% off coupon could come in handy. Go here to print it.
      That ought to be enough to get you going.