'Tis the season – for holiday parties…

Holiday parties. Love them. Can’t not go to them. This time of year, they are both pleasurable and inevitable. I have to admit that one of the highlights of my holiday season is the holiday party I throw. It started out as a Georgetown McDonough School of Business party – for those in our class who remained in DC after graduation. It evolved into an evening filled with friends I love, and bubbly.

While every year I end the party thinking of what I can improve on next year, there are a few things I now do every year that seem to be conducive to a fun evening.

  1. A party is made up first and foremost of people. My guests don’t all know each other, but somehow, every year a few people find that they have common acquaintances with another guest. When I put my guest list together, I invite people I love and I purposely include a few new friends. I think about who might enjoy meeting whom, and the most gratifying reward is having people connect and ask me for each other’s phone numbers and email addresses.
  2. I love sophisticated, and I love welcoming. I strive for both, finding that fine line between elegant and casual. This means a cocktail dress, 4 inch or higher heels, red lipstick. It also means Miller Lite, finger food, hugs, spills, and broken glasses. One makes the other better.
  3. Glass and china change the feeling of a party. I used to buy plastic, now instead I rent the real thing. Extra benefit… no loads of dishwashing for me.
  4. People drink. It is a New Orleans rule (and possible a rule everywhere) that it is always better to have liquor left over rather than running out of alcohol. Buy extra – it will get drunk. I don’t have a full bar – I selfishly serve what I love to drink. And yes, New Orleans has rubbed off on me. From champagne and wine, this party’s drink selection has evolved to include vodka and bourbon, red bull, bitters, and maraschino cherries.
  5. People eat. From the traditional cheese and crackers, this party has evolved to homemade chicken and sausage gumbo. As in homemade from scratch. (Yes, I do have a Louisiana-born and bred husband, which helps…). Serving something “exotic” that will not be served at any other holiday party in my neighborhood makes my night.
  6. Bubbles are festive and make people happy. While in my family we drink champagne year-round, and sometimes just because it is Tuesday, the holiday time is particularly conducive to champagne, prosecco, cava…. Don’t underestimate the power of those little bubbles.
  7. Never start cleaning up until every guest is gone. It’s just neither polite, nor fun.
  8. Clean up that evening, no matter how late (which may mean the morning after). There is nothing worse than waking up to half empty glasses everywhere, and nothing better than waking up to all glasses in their crates, and nothing but the hostess gifts left to discover.

And above all, enjoy. Laugh. Hug. Drink. And be merry.

New year's goals

It is about mid-day January 5th, and I feel a bit behind already – the start of 2011 has been amazingly fun, but not as productive as usual. Case in point, I just wrote down my personal 2011 goals. (The business ones were taken care of the last week of December at least). I like to write them on the first page of my planner (yes, I still like paper planners), so that I can take a look at them on a regular basis and make sure I am making appropriate progress. I can’t help myself but do this every January… it must be because growing up, when I still spent New Year’s Eve dinner with my parents and sisters, we each had to take turns and say what we accomplished over the past year, and list our goals for the coming year.

Grateful… for football

It is Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving Thursday, and as if yesterday wasn’t enough, I can’t wait to have some leftovers for lunch and watch more football this afternoon (college in this case, Alabama vs. Auburn). Yesterday was one of my most fun Thanksgivings ever. Instead of listing the really important things I am grateful for this year (family, friends, a fiancé, health…), I thought I should focus on what really occupied my day yesterday, namely football.

Holiday traditions

To me, today is the official first day of the holiday season. Does it always start on the 5th of November? No. I realized yesterday, however, that the holiday season always starts with “Face Fair.” For the 5th consecutive year, I have visited one of my first, and one of my very favorite clients, Alex Alexa, sometime during November, for their annual holiday open house, two hours of anti-aging and skin care extravaganza at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Hurricane, WV (pronounced hurr-i-ken, I learned year 2 of Face Fair). I was reminded last night of the power of traditions.

I have written before about my love of rituals and traditions: they ground me. Rituals are familiar, comfortable, claming. Traditions help me make sense of the general chaos that is my life. I have chosen the life of a nomad: I spend more time on the road than in my own home, and I love it. The one drawback of such a lifestyle is that it makes weekly traditions difficult. No weekly Sunday night family dinners for me (except when I am home in Geneva). No weekly poker games. No weekly girls’ night out. My traditions tend to be annual rather than weekly. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to enjoy Face Fair not only because I was supporting one of my first clients, but also because this tradition has become a true pleasure, something I now look forward to every year, and the official beginning of my holiday season.

With Face Fair comes seeing Dr. Blair, his wife Dr. Kurucz, and one or more of their three beautiful children. They run Alex Alexa, a family business, just like Alchimie Forever. With Face Fair comes seeing some of their wonderful clients, some whom I now recognize and remember the name of. Last night, I loved seeing Claire M., and I missed seeing Barbara C. With Face Fair comes catching up with my girlfriend Kelly, whom I sometimes wish I were, and whom I love more the more I get to know her. With Face Fair comes the first holiday dinner of the season, a 10 to 12 person dinner in the back room of BlackHawk Grille in Barboursville, a restaurant opened by a friend of Dr. Blair’s, and I believe the one non-chain restaurant for a number of miles. And with Face Fair, comes spending time with Donna, Dr. Blair’s fabulous, loyal, and gorgeous aesthetician. At some point during the last 5 years I stopped staying at the Hurricane Hampton Inn and started staying with Donna in her beautiful home in Salt Rock. (Early on, I would get BlackHawk and Salt Rock confused and think she lived in Black Salt). At some point during the last 5 years of coming down for Face Fair, I stopped thinking of Donna as a “client” and started thinking of her as a BFF. We stopped just talking shop, and starting talking about husbands, boyfriends, dreams, kids, illnesses, stress, all the things best girlfriends speak about over coffee or wine, depending on the time of day.

This morning, at Donna’s kitchen table, having coffee with her and her delightful husband Glenn, I painted my nails red – the true sign I am in holiday spirit. I am so grateful to Dr. Blair and his team for their trust, their long-time support, their friendship, and for this wonderful annual tradition that is Face Fair and all is has come to mean in my life.

 

Happy New Year!

I love the 31st of December. It is the promise of a New Year, of endless possibilities, of a clean slate. To me, it is a bit like Friday night – the week-end is ahead but has not yet started. And, of course, December 31st is the day to make New Year’s resolutions. At the end of every year, millions of us (50% of Americans, actually!) resolve to live better, be better, and abandon our vices.

From Entrepreneur Magazine, December 2009, here are a few New Year’s resolution factoids:

– 99% jump in web visits to Weight Watchers in January, more than in any other month
– 1 million boxes of smoking cessation gum, lozenges, and ptaches sold in January 2008
– 42% jump in traffic on career sites in January
– 12% of gym memberships are sold in January, more than in any other month

My list of goals (I like that word better than resolution) for 2010, both personal and professional, is long. You can read about some of them on Inc.com (nice to end the year with a homepage photo!). Others include reading more; taking up running again; and for a third year in a row (is there an expiration date for goals?), learning to play pool!

Whatever your goals for 2010 may be, I wish you a New Year filled with happiness, success, and beauty!

With love,

Ada

What I am grateful for this year

A girlfriend of mine (who shall remain nameless so as not to completely spoil the surprise) is eloping the day after Thanksgiving. She told me she wanted to have something fantastic to remember 2009 by. Indeed, many of us would rather forget about 2009 alltogether. As she was telling me about her plans, I started to think about all the great things that happened this year, positive things that I should be grateful for and that make up for the economy…

It seems particularly appropriate to think about this during this holiday week. So here goes. I encourage you all to make your own list and celebrate 2009.

I am thankful for:

1. The birth of the first Polla grandchild, my niece Sasha. 

2. The new Alchimie Forever showroom located in the heart of Georgetown.

3. My new apartment, also in Georgetown, with its hardwood floors and wood-burning fireplace.

4. The fact that I can walk to work!

5. My first experience with live TV.

6. My first Mardi Gras spent in New Orleans, “the city that care forgot.”

7.  My first trip to the wine country.

8. The launch of our newest product, Superpulse Tightening Eye Contour Gel for Men.

9. The new Alchimie Forever clients who brought our line in to their spas and boutiques despite the current climate.

10. The existing Alchimie Forever clients who still trust and support us and make everything else possible.

Happy Thanksgiving!

With love,
Ada