Surviving the holidays
We asked Nik Manojlovich, a true party professional for his take on how to get through the holiday season without losing your hair.
My first suggestion for surviving the holidays is to be prepared for any occasion. I stock my fridge and cupboards with holiday essentials that are sure to come in handy whenever revellers drop by -- red and white wine, champagne, apple cider and even the ingredients for a luscious hot chocolate -- so I can present an assortment of beverages at a moment's notice. I also like to keep nibblies on hand – assorted mixed nuts, pistachios, sweet treats and even some pre-made, and then frozen, holiday hors d'oeuvres. You'll be surprised at how quickly you can pull off an unexpected gathering of friends.
One of my worst nightmares is finding myself right in the thick of holiday entertaining, and then discovering that my home is not up to snuff. About three years ago I got smart and set November 11 as my "get ready" date. I schedule a cleaning of the house from top to bottom, and we're talking high dusting, windows, floor polishing and even steam cleaning furniture and carpets. The other part of this plan is to strip the kitchen and dining areas from top to bottom. I run all my dishes and glassware through the dishwasher and polish all my silver. Don't forget to check your table linens, as well.
It's customary to greet everyone who invites us over during this period with a small gift, a token of our appreciation for their kindness, friendship and efforts. I like to look through my holiday calendar in advance of the season and try to determine how many events I've been asked to attend. After that, I start thinking about making small gifts to take. It really saves time and prevents aggravation. There's no more last-minute scrambling to pick up something while en route to a party. What works? How about cinnamon-scented taper candles tied with a soft organza ribbon? Small bottles of icewine or champagne wrapped in clear cellophane always work, or attractive tin containers lined with tissue paper, then filled with some of your holiday baking. Even something small, like a handmade Christmas ornament, imparts a sense of your affection. And make a few extra just to be safe.
My own private holiday
This one is all about taking care of yourself, and it starts with you selecting one day, right in the middle of the hectic holidays, just for yourself. Tell everyone you're busy, then plan a day where no one and nothing can disturb you. Thinking, "What would I do?" Well, the options are endless. Go to a Christmas concert. Dust off those ice skates and head to a skating rink. Find that perfect snow-covered hill and go tobogganing. Book a treatment at the spa. Take in a film. Go to a wellness lecture. Spice things up by going to a cooking class. Head to a museum. Better still, why not just stay in bed and read a classic like A Christmas Carol?
Share the spirit
Remember those less fortunate. Look deep in your heart to figure out what you can give. Some people like to offer a financial contribution, others volunteer their time. Bottom line, this idea embraces the spirit of the season and instills perhaps the greatest sense of accomplishment.