Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Thanksgiving with the Family" - Can't We All Just Get Along?

What is it about the holidays that sends most families running for the hills? Rather than feeling like an uplifting experience that we look forward to, holidays tend to feel more like a doom and gloom sentence that we have to endure, but not without a good dose of mind-numbing substances to help get us through. The real truth of the matter is everyone really does want to get along and have a pleasant and peaceful Thanksgiving, it's just that we let our egos and differences get the best of us and have no idea how to restrain ourselves and apply a little self-censorship. Here are our top five tips to surviving any family holiday celebration and perhaps even enjoying yourself for once!

1. Make it a formal affair. As we mentioned in our recent blog post on creating a glamorous Thanksgiving, set the tone of the party and keep things cordial by encouraging all family members to dress for the occasion. They will be much more inclined to be on their best behavior and turn on the charm than if they had arrived as if they had just rolled out of bed.

2. Keep it light and breezy. It is a well-known fact that humor is the best remedy to loosen things up and relieve a tense situation. Levity is definitely the way to go with those family members who are wound up too tight. If the air is so thick you can cut it with a knife, put on a funny holiday movie, crack a few jokes or rally a spontaneous game of charades which is always guaranteed to make people laugh. This should help alleviate the tension and hopefully make everyone forget their troubles (at least for a while).

3. Refrain from pushing each other's buttons. Family members are usually acutely aware of just the right button to push that will set another family member off towards the deep end. Bite your tongue, count to ten, run a lap around the block, do whatever you can to abstain from saying the wrong thing that may potentially ruin the entire occasion. You have the control and it is within your power to hold back, smile and rise above the situation.

4. Compliments are better than criticism. When we relax and are truly present for one another it is easy to find something nice to say that will make the other person feel good and loved during this time of year. Compliments are always well-received. It doesn't have to be anything earth-shattering, but it should definitely be authentic. After you pay a compliment, you may be pleasantly surprised by a normally restrained family member, who now feels more inclined to pay you a compliment in return.

5. Try to be thankful. Recognize the obvious and be thankful for the small things. If family members are able to attend Thanksgiving then that is a blessing in itself. For older relatives, this may be their last. You never know what the future holds so cherish each moment together, appreciate each other and focus on only the positive, unique attributes. Finally, before you gorge yourself with the Thanksgiving feast, go around the table and say one thing you are thankful for and maybe even one nice thing to each person at the table. This will bring contentment and peace to everyone attending and isn't that all we really want anyway?

"Glamorous at Thanksgiving" - Why It's Important to Dress More Than Just Your Turkey

Inspired by an article I read recently in Bergdorf Goodman magazine, I wanted to explore further the idea of not only dressing the turkey on Thanksgiving, but also oneself. There is nothing worse than showing up to an affair in elegant attire and discovering that the rest of the guests never got the "memo." Even if the host does not include a dress code in the invitation to Thanksgiving, common sense says that if someone has gone to the trouble of slaving all day in the kitchen to prepare a fabulous meal, then all guests should pay their respects by arriving specially clothed for the occasion. Listed are our top five tips to guaranteeing a photo worthy celebration.

1. Your Attire Helps Set the Tone. It is very easy to distinguish a special occasion from an ordinary one. Whether hosting a holiday celebration or arriving as a guest, getting dressed up should be an integral part of the tradition. For me this is easy, I am actually the one who feels more comfortable in heels and a suit than I do in sweats and flip flops; however, for most, that is not the case. If you are in this category, I encourage you to fake it anyway because wearing nice, clean, pressed clothes can brighten an attitude and truly does help to set the tone for everyone.

2. Put Some Effort Into It. Paying homage to the holidays requires a bit of thought if you want to do it right. You know they are coming, you have the date clearly marked on your calendar so take some time to get organized and plan accordingly. Look through your closet and pull out a couple of possible choices a day or so ahead. Don't forget to do the same for the children. Trust me, the last thing you need is to be fighting with them about what they are wearing as you are struggling to get out the door. Once you have narrowed down your favorite outfit, add a little flair by accessorizing with smart and stylish accents.

3.Getting Dressed Up Actually Makes You More Polite. As an etiquette instructor and an expert in this area, I speak from experience when I say that being polite goes hand-in-hand with putting yourself together. Making holiday plans with family can be stressful enough, even with the best intentions. To create harmony at Thanksgiving, create a more formal atmosphere and encourage family to dress for the meal. They will be much more apt to be on their best behavior if they are wearing dresses and suits than if they are wearing their tee shirts and jeans appearing as if they are ready for a throw down in the backyard.

4. What to Wear? Some family and friends take liberties in this area that are not necessarily the most appropriate, so we thought we'd lay down a few ground rules. Don't embarrass yourself and others by wearing anything too revealing. It's a family holiday for goodness sake! Save your 9-inch heels and low cut dress for your hot date on Saturday night. Think tasteful and sophisticated, something along the lines of a strand of pearls with a nice pant or skirt suit for a woman and a dark color suit or slacks and sweater ensemble for a man. Remember elegant and classic does not have to mean boring and understated, there are many ways to make yourself look fabulous with a bit of creativity and fashion sense.

5. The Hostess Should Be the Mostest. We've spent the majority of time focusing on what family and friends, otherwise known as guests, should wear to attend a Thanksgiving party. However, the most important figure at the event is the illustrious host or hostess who really should display the "mostest". We know this is the hardest part to do, especially after days of shopping, preparing and cooking for the meal, but when you open the front door to your home and receive your first guest, you really want to look the part. Your guests will feel terribly if they arrive dressed to the nines and you are still in your raggedy sweats with Uggs.