Things to do in New York City During the Holidays

I caught the Christmas bug a little earlier than normal this year. I think it was the lack of overnight shifts and finally being able to celebrate the holidays with my family that really got me excited to start celebrating.

Back in November, my sister and I took our mom to Radio City to see the Rockettes Christmas show. We spent the afternoon strolling Fifth Ave, checking out the holiday windows that were already on display. We were there the weekend that the Christmas tree got to New York from Pennsylvania this year and there were a ton of workers stringing lights and hanging ornaments getting ready for the big reveal.

There is absolutely nothing like New York City during the holidays and it has always given me all sorts of feels. I put together some of my favorite things to do in the city to get in the holiday spirit.

Skate in the middle of the city
There are amazing pop up skating rinks all around the city, and while the Rink at Rockefeller Center is in place all year, the best time to skate under the Rock is in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the most famous Christmas Tree in the world is looking down upon you. If you don’t want to skate in a not so packed, but still very packed and popular area, you can twirl on the ice at the Winter Village at Bryant Park, two rinks in Central Park and a few others scattered outside of midtown.

Visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
This is one of my favorite traditions. Even when I was in living in Los Angeles, I always made it a point to visit the Gove or Americana at Christmas to see the huge trees and all of the decorations. Even just driving by the beautiful decorations at the Citadel outlets along the 5 Freeway could put anyone in the holiday spirit. But nothing compares to Rockefeller Center. There’s something about this beautiful piece of nature being completely surrounded by cement and skyscrapers. It’s a little piece of Christmas in the city.

Winter Village at Bryant Park
I may have talked about how much I want to visit European Christmas Markets one day. It’s pretty high up on my bucket list. And while we may not have as magical markets here in the US, Bryant Park’s Winter Wonderland is pretty high up there. You can shop artisan goods and food, eat at one of the restaurants over looking the park or skate on the rink.

Stroll 5th Ave and window shop
One of my earliest memories of going into New York City is walking down 5th Ave. and being in awe of how intricate the windows were. (Ironic I was a merchant for 8 years.) Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Bergdorf Goodman are some of the most famous, but not all on 5th Ave. and you may have to venture out a block or two but they are defiantly worth it. When I went to the city in mid-November the famous Saks windows weren’t revealed yet – yes there’s a whole big to do around the windows being revealed – but last week when I went into the city I was able to visit Lord and Taylor’s windows and they were all the heart eyes!

Rockettes Christmas Spectacular
Every Thanksgiving I watch the Rockettes in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade but this was the first year that I was able to see these amazing ladies perform their most popular show of the year. It was beautiful. I didn’t realize how intricate the entire show was, with a few surprised guests at the end.

This year seeing the Rockettes was a new Christmas tradition but Friday I am going to be talking about my favorite holiday traditions.

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Holiday Tablescape

Through out most of the year I am pretty minimalistic in my home décor. I like whites, and greys, and pretty much anything neutral just like my clothing. If you’re lucky, I may throw some gold in there, but that’s the closest to a color you’re going to get out of me. (Okay, last spring I threw in peach, call me crazy.) My sister says I’m sterile. She’s a nurse and white reminders her of a hospital, and for me, color is complete chaos. But for me, mid-September through January 1 I want the holidays to be plastered throughout my home.

Give me reds, golds, sparkles, ribbons, bows and all of the holiday goodness.

This year my sister and I are hosting our family of 45 cousins, aunts, uncles, and kiddos on Christmas Eve so I feel like I’ve been on Christmas prep since early October. While our table for 45 is going to be a little simpler than this, I set up this table for a much more intimate dinner last week.

Layers and fabrics

Different textures is the easiest way to add dimension and holiday spirit to your table. I started with a gold table cloth and layered on these placemats that have a little sparkle. I have a small addiction to napkins – Beverage napkins are my favorite but they’re more for cocktail hour. These cotton napkins from Home Goods are super cute and casual which is perfect for a small group of close friends or everyday dinner.

Add a little sparkle

The placemats already had a little sparkle but I love me some gold during the holidays. And these Nicole Miller gold bow napkin rings from Home Goods jumped out at me. (Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader.) Also these can be used all year round for girls nights or other casual dinner parties. Change up the napkin and you have a new, cute piece to use for the rest of the year.

Bring the outdoors inside

While most of the plants are heading into hibernation here in New England, my mom’s holly bush is #goals right now. So I snuck over to her house and pulled off a few branches. While I was there I grabbed a few pine cones and added them to the table top. The easiest way to make your table feel super seasonal. In the summer, go outside, clip some flowers and stick them in a vase. Centerpiece done!

Keep it low

One thing I hate while at dinner is having to lean over to talk to the person sitting across from you. Especially in an intimate setting, keep your center piece low so all of your guests can talk across the table from each other. When you are at someone’s home, especially for a smaller, more intimate meal, the lower centerpiece the better. It encourages conversation. Wine helps also.

Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Successful Road Trip

Six months ago this week my sister, friend and I set out on a pretty fast paced road trip from Orange County, CA to Connecticut. We had 5 days, 13 states, 4 cases of wine in toe, and one wild night in Nashville ahead of us. But we made it. We had just over a week to plan our cross-country adventure and with myself in the navigation seat, my best friend planning and researching activities along the way, and my sister playing DJ, I think we did pretty well throwing it all together.

A trip this big does require some planning ahead of time, but it also requires a lot of flexibility. For instance, locking my keys in the car in the middle of a rain storm in Arkansas was not really planned (insert palm to face emoji here). I broke this post down into things you need to do before you travel, and what you can do along the way, because let’s face it, you have a lot of free time during a road trip this long.

But these tips and tricks can really work for any road trip, no matter how long or short it is.

Before you Travel:

Map it out, and add time
I used Google Maps to not just look at what cities we were stopping in but also how long we’d be driving each day. Our longest travel days were days 1 and 5, Orange County to Albuquerque and then Knoxville to Connecticut. Both were 11 and a half hours of straight driving. But you aren’t going to be driving straight through. I thought adding an hour or two would be enough, but it absolutely wasn’t. We ended up being on the road for over 16 hours both of these days, making pit stops, stopping for actual meals (you can’t just eat fast food), and just getting out to walk around. The longer your drive, add more time.

Plan your hotels
Being a travel agent, my biggest concern was having a hotel set up each night. I had nightmares about driving through New Mexico with nothing around and only a nasty motel on the side of the road with Norman Bates as the hotel manager. I booked hotels for each night. We stuck with Marriot branded hotels and tried to stay in bigger cities. I feel like Marriott’s brands have a pretty good standard across all of their brands and you know what you’re going to get. Now was not the time to experiment with a $75 a night hotel to save money.

Take care of any car maintenance
Like I said, I had just over a week between planning our trip and leaving. Every day of that week and a half I was packing or getting something done to my car. I got an oil change one day. Another day I got a wheel fixed that I had been putting off for almost 8 months. I even had to reregister my car in California and make sure I had a hard copy of the registration, insurance card, and the phone number for my road side assistance.

Pack your car for the apocalypse
You’ll never have everything you’ll need. We stopped at both Walmart and Target on our drive. Things come up and that’s inevitable, but being as prepared and comfortable as possible is always important. Here is a list of things I found we needed:

*a pillow for that third driver in the back seat
*tissues and TP just in case
*refillable water bottles to fill up before you leave a restaurant or hotel in the morning
*healthy snacks to keep you from pulling over at another fast food restaurant
*blankets for that one person that’s always cold
*jumper cables because you never know

During Travel:

Be overly cautious with gas station stops
I was super paranoid about running out of gas so I tried not to have my tank too far below the halfway mark. This is probably a little aggressive but three girls on the side of the road with an empty tank was in my mind right there with Norman Bates.

Have a back up plan for the radio
My 2012 Sentra isn’t too fancy with XM Radio so when we were going through the Texas panhandle and we had no service, my high school CDs from 2004 really came in handy. (Thank you Jimmy Eat World and Britney Spears) Download some of your favorite podcasts, grab your phone charger and get that crazy static off the radio. A quiet road trip is not fun!

Check the dates of your must-see sights
We really wanted to make a stop at Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK but did you know they’re closed on Sundays? Do you know what day we were in Oklahoma? Yep. If there’s something you defiantly want to see, make sure you’ll be in that area when they’re open. The city girl in me forgot places close for days of rest. Who knew?

You can check out our road trip details from earlier this year here and here.

Gift Guide: for Her

Okay I know, I am a little late on this post. I said it would be up Friday, but then the holiday happened and I just didn’t want to step away from family and friends. So three days later, here it is. Good thing for you, it’s just in time for Cyber Monday!

Most of my gifts each year are for girls. My mom, my sisters, my friends, my cousins. There are a lot of ladies in my life but they are all so different. Here is a guide that I think you can find something for everyone on your list.

My go to gifts for my mom each year is flannel PJs and usually I pair them with a pair of gloves or slippers. I saw this Falala PJ set at a Gap store a few months ago and fell in love with them! How cute is this. And these Old Navy gloves are a great simple basic that will match every jacket my mom has.

For your girly friends, this cute little leather tassel from Michael Kors is a perfect add on to any gift, or to even put on the outside of the wrapping for some festivity. I got this lipstick by Chanel a few weeks ago in 57 Rouge Feu and I am obsessed. It stays on all night! I defiantly want to pick up a few other shades like 62 Libre and 40 La Sensuelle. Also, a pair of Steve Madden boots is also a good go to each season. I know I grab myself a pair each year. They’re a great price and last forever.

Everyone has a homebody friend. The one that would rather stay in and watch movies with candle lit and mask on. (okay, me most Friday nights) Yankee Candle is always fantastic and always has great deals around the holidays. This Mary Kay relaxation set is perfect for your girlfriend while she’s hanging out on her couch.

The techy ladies in your life would love this light weight laptop sleeve by Vera Bradley or a new Fit Bit Blaze. And she can wear her new Fit Bit while she is working out in her Old Navy compression leggings with her new Nike’s on.

I’m exhausted from all of the online shopping and holiday talk so Wednesday I’ll have a travel post back up talking about everything you need to know for a successful road trip. See you then!

Gift Guide: for Him

Everyone has that person on their list that you dread shopping for. That person who has everything you can think they may need or want. And if they don’t have something, they’ll just get it for themselves. Last year I actually told my ex that he was not allowed to purchase anything in the months of November or December because he was one of the hardest people to shop for.

Men always seem to be the hardest to shop for, so here is a quick little gift guide for the guys you need to shop for this year.

I am a big fan of the gift that keeps giving. I love me a subscription box and this shave kit from Bevel and the Beer of the Month Club are perfect for any hipster guy in your life. Yard games are also a great gift that I think a lot of people don’t think about because it’s the beginning of winter and you have to hold off on playing with it for a few months, but I think yard games are great for any season. And of coarse if you have a man that likes to work with his hands, pick up some tools to add to his collection.

Clothes are always an easy go to and a sweater from Banana Republic is always a great go to gift. This one is my favorite from this season. If your guy is still carrying around a twofold wallet, it’s time to ditch it and get a one fold wallet or this flat money clip wallet from Nordstrom. I think every guy should have a nice watch or pair of casual shoes for those nights you are going to dress up but not too fancy. And you can throw all of this into this perfect weekender, because who doesn’t need another bag!

Friday I will have my women’s gift guide up and it is really a list of items that I want this year for Christmas so friends and family, heads up! Have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family tomorrow, and for the love of God stay out of the malls! The less people that actually shop on Thursday, the stores will go back to allowing their employees to enjoy their Thanksgiving with their families.

xoxo Happy Thanksgiving!!