25 Secret Weapons to Stamp Out Holiday Stress

November 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm , by

Why is it that time always seems to speed up during the holiday season (does everyone else realize that Thanksgiving is next week?!)? It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it goes so fast, and it gets more than a little hectic.

Our friends over at The Motherboard put together this holiday survival guide. It’s got 25 sneaky ways to shop smart, reduce the stress, and get ready for a happy, healthy holiday. Read it now and hopefully it’ll help you slow down the season.

Claire Robinson’s 5 Tips for Planning the Perfect Holiday Party

November 15, 2010 at 9:30 am , by

Are you in holiday party planning mode yet? Don’t stress, Food Network’s Claire Robinson is here to help! In our December 2010/January 2011 issue she offers five easy-to-make appetizer recipes from her book, 5 Ingredient Fix—now she’s sharing her five tips for planning a successful holiday party.

Offer a variety of foods. “With most meals, you’ll never please everybody,” she says. “But the great thing about appetizers and hors d’oeuvres is that it’s your one chance to have little bites of food that please everybody.” Claire likes to offer meat and vegetarian options, as well as hot and cold food that you can either dip or pop into your mouth.

Keep the atmosphere relaxed and casual. “I find that the best holiday parties are the ones that are a little more low-key. You can let the food be fancy or let guests dress up if they want, but just let it be a casual event and everybody can have a good time.”

Have drinks and at least one appetizer ready for when guests arrive. “I always like to have a signature cocktail and one nibble ready ahead of time to greet people with, because even if you’re wrapping up in the kitchen, there’s still one thing that’s ready to go.”

Spread the appetizer plates around the room. “I like to place the appetizers in a few different spots, because there’s nothing worse than everybody hovering over one bowl of nuts. It also helps keep your guests moving around the room.”

Don’t be afraid to make your own centerpieces. “It could be as simple as filling a vase with a bunch of inexpensive candy canes instead of spending a fortune on flowers. I’ve done everything from putting extra baguettes in big vases to putting fresh herbs in small glasses on the center of the table.”

Welcome To Our 2010 Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway!

November 15, 2010 at 6:01 am , by

This year we decided to get a huge gift for you, our awesome readers: We’re giving away every single product in our 2010 Gift Guide. Yep, you read that right! One lucky winner will score everything from one of our 8 categories. Click each image below to enter to win that mega-prize. Good luck, and a very happy holidays to you from all of us here at the Ladies’ Lounge!



Gift Guide Giveaway: Win These Tech Gifts

November 15, 2010 at 6:00 am , by

These presents are just the thing to make a smart lady lose her cool. If you’ve got someone on your list who loves her gadgets and toys, you’ll find something perfect here. One lucky reader will score all of them. Want to know more about each item? Check out our Geeky Gift Guide.

Enter to win by posting a brief comment below telling us why you’d like to win one of the holiday gift packages. Comments must be posted by 11:59 ET on Monday, December 20. We will randomly select one winner. Read the full rules here. Good luck!

Gift Guide Giveaway: Win These Pet Presents

November 15, 2010 at 6:00 am , by

We wouldn’t dream of leaving Man’s Best Friend out in the cold this holiday season. Find the purr-fect present for your four-legged friends, or for the most devoted pet lover on your list. One lucky reader will score all of them. Want to know more about each item? Check out our Pet Lovers’ Gift Guide.

Enter to win by posting a brief comment below telling us why you’d like to win one of the holiday gift packages. Comments must be posted by 11:59 ET on Monday, December 20. We will randomly select one winner. Read the full rules here. Good luck!

Sara’s Tech Tips: How To Connect (For Free!) Via Sykpe

September 30, 2010 at 3:54 pm , by

sara _0079The holidays are about being with family, but sometimes the miles between loved ones makes it impossible to be together in person. Whether you have a son or daughter studying abroad or a family member who moved across the country, Skype makes it possible to bridge the gap. Skype is a free video conference service that allows you to talk—and see each other—when meeting up in person isn’t an option. And it’s easy too! All you need is a computer, internet connection and web cam (many computers made within the past few years have built in cameras). Follow the steps below and you will be chatting in no time.

skype1. Download Skype from their official website. Select “get skype” at the top of the screen and follow the prompts. When you get to the “download now” screen, you will see options on the right side of the screen to pick the version for your operating system.

2. Once you have the program, when you open it for the first time it will prompt you to create an account or sign in. It’s a super-quick process to create an account, so go ahead and do that and then continue.

3. Now that you’re set up, you need to find someone to Skype with! If family members or friends already have accounts, search for them by going to the “contact” tab and clicking the button to add new contacts. Search by either email address or phone number and then once you’ve found your friend or family member, add them. If the person you want to call doesn’t have an account, have them complete the first two steps too.

4. You’re all set to make a call! The person on the other end needs to be there with their computer on, so it’s often a good idea to set a time you’ll be Skyping so you make sure to catch them. When you’re ready to go, just select the person in your contact list and hit “call!” Happy (video) chatting!

Festive Florals: A Quick How-To

December 17, 2009 at 4:08 pm , by

flowersI absolutely love the holidays! I try to have friends and family over every chance I get. Last weekend I invited my dearest friend Maya and her husband Nick over for a last-minute meal. Just because I made a quick salad and ordered in pizza didn’t mean I couldn’t throw together a quick flower arrangement and light some candles, right? Holiday tunes, some soft candlelight and this arrangement made the impromptu meal feel festive and special. Don’t let the details of a party or dinner stress you out to the point that you avoid it all together. All you really need are a few nice touches, and great people to share them with!

How to Make this Festive Floral Arrangement:

1. First get your flowers. Select a simple white flower—roses or small white carnations are affordable and work well. Then choose a green filler like plain leaves or pine branches. And of course you need a pop of red. I like these berries that I found at our local flower stall. You don’t need very many—just a couple of sprigs.

2. Then fill a wide-necked clear glass vase with lukewarm water. Take all of your flowers out of their wrapping and remove the rubber bands.

3. Place the white flowers in first, and make sure to remove any leaves that fall at or below the water level. Cut the stems* at an angle, and place one stem of flowers in at a time. This way you can vary the heights of the flowers as you build the arrangement. Next add the greenery. Again, remove the leaves that fall below the water level. Lastly add the sprigs of berries in, and you have a fun and festive arrangement!

*Tip: Just cut a bit off the stems to start, and then adjust the height as necessary. You can always make the stalks shorter, but you will find it pretty hard to make them taller again!