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How to mentally, physically and fashionably prepare for holidays

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 Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us. As the first strand of Chesapeake Energy’s lights went up on Western Avenue in early October, dreams of decking the halls, tacky sweater parties and spiked eggnog danced in our heads.

For many, the thought of the upcoming festivities is exhilarating. Time spent with friends and family, mouth watering meals and all-around merriment are things we look forward to all year.

’Tis also the time of year for awkward gatherings, stressful get-together planning and hemorrhaging bank accounts.

How does one best prepare mentally, physically and fashionably for this time of year? We have you covered with our party prep guide.

Food and drink

To put guests into an adequate tryptophan coma, many hosts opt to serve turkey. The logistics however could seem overwhelming. When do you begin cooking? Will it feed all of the guests? Luckily for some, it is possible to avoid recreating the dinner scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and leave the cooking to the professionals.

Places like Sprouts Farmers Market and Whole Foods Market make things easier: Order online or in-store and you can specify the cooking method as well as the number of guests you need to feed. Plus, you know where the bird came from and that it has no antibiotics or growth hormones. It is also pre-cooked so you can just pop it in the oven for an hour or so to reheat it.

If a tryptophan coma isn’t for you, Darren Wheeler of Wheeler’s Meat Market says popular options are barbecue and beef tenderloin. But for a non-traditional take on the traditional bird, you can also buy smoked turkey, of which Wheeler sells approximately 3,000 during the holidays.

“It’s not like it was years ago,” Wheeler said. “Everyone eats a lot of turkey throughout the year now.”

For those guests who don’t eat meat, don’t sweat learning the intricacies of a non-traditional menu: Most grocers sell pre-made vegan and vegetarian side dishes, too.

Also, another option that anyone can enjoy is tofurky — a vegetarian roast of wheat protein and organic tofu — that comes with everything you need (including cooking instructions) and is found at most grocery stores.

A popular accompaniment with any meal or happening has always been the cocktail. Shaken or stirred, on the rocks or neat, Haleigh Kenney, event planner at XO Events, suggests creating one signature cocktail to keep things easy.

“A signature drink is always a cute idea. A nice touch might even be to make recipe cards with the ingredients of your signature drink for guests to take home,” Kenney said.
For informal parties, consider serving snacks instead of a full meal.

“While serving a meal when a party is hosted during dinnertime, follows the rules of etiquette,” said Whitney Tatum, president of Eventures event planning company. “Heavy hors d’oeuvres are popular as well. Late-night fun food is popular and easy too.

“Try bringing out another course of light bites as guests dance the night away. Another great way to nourish guests is to serve several small courses throughout the evening.”

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Decor and dress

When designing the gala, remember, it’s your celebration.

“Traditional colors like red and green are always popular, and will always be popular,” Tatum said. “But we’re designing events with an assortment of non-traditional colors and a contemporary feel, too.”

Whatever the motif, ambiance is always important. Kenney prefers to buy vessels for her flower arrangements and candles at Oklahoma-owned shops like Hobby Lobby.

A popular design trend Kenney uses is to mix metals like silver and gold for things like votive holders and flower vases.

“They dress up the simplest of tables,” she said. “Drop a tea light down in them and call it good. … Mercury glass is an absolute favorite of mine when decorating for the holidays.”
Another new favorite is plaid or metallic linens. A few yards at most shops costs about $20 and can be reused, she said.

Kenney said the following items are “out” this year: animal print, feathers, bright-colored ornaments on Christmas trees and multi-colored tree lights.

For attire, take a cue from the invitation. If specific attire preference is not noted or if the theme is ambiguous, ring up the host to check. (Oh, and if the invite says RSVP, do so. Always.)

Also, if it’s a work-related function, the smartest rule is to abide by your company’s dress code, Kenney said.

A popular theme this time of year is the “tacky Christmas sweater” bash. To find the best (worst) ones, comb the city’s thrift shops, she said.

Worth mentioning is Bad Granny’s Bazaar, 1759 NW 16th St. While in the Plaza District, check into Out on a Limb resale, 1710 NW 16th St.

Enjoying your family (and others)

Whether attending or throwing a blowout, awkward or stressful run-ins are inevitable.

“The holiday seasons, for most of us, mean increased stress and anxiety,” said Joshua Nichols of Family Solutions Counseling. “Anxiety has the potential to increase when we are around family and friends, depending on the situation and the nature of the relationships.”

Before walking into any potentially stressful environment, whether it’s a work-related party or meeting a significant other’s family for the first time, Nichols recommended pausing for a moment to focus on how you will behave, despite how others treat you.

“It is perfectly fine to feel nervous or afraid,” he said.
Also, make others at ease (they’re nervous, too) by sharing an inexpensive gift, recommended Carey Sue Vega, an OKC etiquette expert.

“Don’t worry too much about what to say,” Vega added. “Instead, ask easy, open-ended questions, then listen. … Getting them to talk is the easiest way to break the ice and get conversation to flow comfortably.”

Print headline: Blood, sweaters and tryptophan, Here’s how to mentally, physically  and fashionably prepare for this holiday season.

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