vəˈräɡō/: a woman of strength or spirit; a female warrior.

Headache-Free Holidays: A Few Ideas For Staying Sane During the Holidays by Kay & Raquel

Headache-Free Holidays by RaquelDownloads

The holidays can be (and most often are) hectic. Family, tryptophan-laced food, impending blizzards, and seemingly endless quantities of booze, all have the potential to turn any holiday gathering into what some may liken to a zombie apocalypse. Keeping your social, emotional, and physical integrity intact for the duration can be tricky – never mind the test of keeping your cool amidst your molotov cocktail of potential Holiday snafus.

First things first: You are an adult. You are an empowered, bad ass woman, and you haven’t come this far to let any drama defeat your purpose. Your purpose of the moment may be to just get through a dinner with Tia Maria constantly refilling your plate, your sisters salad-shaming you, or your father asking you when you’re going to go back to school and/or settle down. Remember – no matter how maddening your family’s antics may be – that your family loves you and everyone truly is trying their best. There is the off chance that the sociopath of the family is trying their best to ruin your life, but hey, everybody’s got their “stuff.” Whatever the case may be, other people’s “stuff” need not be your “stuff.” What’s more satisfying than enjoying a delicious meal with the people you Love and all that comes with it? Not a whole lot, but knowing that you took the high road and didn’t play into juvenile bull shit, feels amazing.

Now, where were we? The holidays are all about celebration. Celebration begins on the inside and is expressed on the outside. Following the Dress to Express motto, wear what you want, what makes you feel good, and what suits whatever you have going on. Consider the situational yardstick that includes: weather, company, and your social calendar. As my father always told me: “Expect the unexpected. Dressing in layers will allow you the flexibility to accommodate a full gastrointestinal track – especially when there are bubbles, flour, and traditional American fare in the mix. A smart vintage velvet blazer is sharp and sweet all at once, serving as a perfect boost to a classically chic black dress. Turn Ugly-Sweater season on its head with a cozy cardigan or colorful boho sweater. Soft and vibrant woolens not only keep you warm, but inspire a blankie-tactile refuge for when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and pass out from the cornucopia of food and/or novela-grade drama. Especially in the case of a brutal and snowy New England climate, warm and colorful wovens not only keep your body warm, but can brighten your mood.

Adorn streamlined trousers with a sheer scarf transformed as a belt and tied with a slouchy bow. Simple, solid tops allow for unique pieces to stand out, like a vintage brooch, gem stone pendant or ring. Mix and match with textures, materials, and colors. When you play, you think less about dressing and you will be naturally drawn to whatever mode you are dressing to. Your own combination will be undoubtedly fabulous.

When it comes to the legs, skip the solids and sparkles for uniquely-patterned stockings: cuban heels, polka dots, and asymmetrical lace accents add a funky punch to the little black dress. Even when worn beneath trousers, decorative hosiery is never a bad move. Let the glitz go to your feet with sparkly pumps, 1920’s heels, or embellished slippers. Whatever your foot fetish, make sure your feet are happy: blisters, loss of blood-flow, pinched toes, or cuts are never cute.

Don’t forget about using organic jewelry as handsome and refreshing accessories. Turn an old scarf into a bracelet, or fashion a comfortable collar for your neck. A thin piece of ribbon can be tied atop a digit, woven into your hair in a braid, or paired with a special ring to wear as a necklace.

For holiday makeup, add a punch of color to a simple and smooth palette. Pick a focal point and play it up. If you are focusing on eyes, try emerald green lids and a neutral lip. If you want to focus on lips, go with a burgundy or blackberry pout. Go neutral and bold with a combination of strong brows and bright cheeks.

Most importantly, relax, be yourself, have fun. If food or family pressure is a surefire trigger, remember that No means No: boundaries are your best friends. They tell you when to drop it like it’s hot, and when to explore. Respect your own boundaries and those of others. You are responsible for what you eat, how you behave, and how you feel – don’t blame others for anything that you are actively responsible for. If you are not staying overnight, leave at a time that is appropriate and make sure to make the most of your time with the people who are there. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience, and you are lucky enough to be part of one. While you’re there take the time to get to know people anew and reflect on positive memories. See if you can learn something new about your parents, siblings, new in-laws, or extended family.

Bring comfortable shoes and invite your family out for a refreshing walk outside or bring your yoga mat for some pre and post-meal stretching. For an extra boost of stress relief (and to simultaneously keep the party going), put those decorative soles to use and go out dancing with friends. City spots are less crowded and getting your groove on is way more fun than watching gangster movie reruns or five hours of football.

Headache-Free Holidays by Kay

So, the Holiday Season has arrived and by now you’re already drunk. Just kidding, you’re at a Hatha Yoga class pre-gaming for your relative who thinks FOX news is the holy grail. Good. Let’s get this party started!

I’m the biggest advocate of what I like to call “THE PLAN B.” Just like dating, you wouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket and the same goes for holidays. ALWAYS HAVE A BACK UP PLAN, because, as much as we love family, crying in the car in a food-induced coma is no way to go out.

I always make a list of plan B’s before a Holiday. For instance, I like to go dancing with friends the night before any holiday. Find a friend and go do something fun. Put on the hottest outfit you have and go zone out to some excellent music. You’ll appreciate it this the next day when your yoga pants are trying to hold onto their integrity from the gigantic meal you just ate (I praise thee, yoga pants, I really do). Any kind of endorphin-releasing exercise will not only put you in a good mood, but you’ll feel refreshed the next day (booze-levels permitting) to handle the pressures of your Uncle who brought his age-inappropriate, child-bride to dinner.

If you’re feeling claustrophobic and/or lazy, take your nephew for a walk (or several) around the block or to the store. Breathe in the fresh,night air. If it’s snowing, have a snow ball fight. Keep your body moving. Volunteer at a local shelter or soup kitchen. One sure-fire way to express your gratitude is to be of service to others. Maybe visit an Elderly Living center or even better, call someone or invite someone over that has no place to go. I’ve had friends open their homes to me on many holidays and I was never so grateful and they were happy to have me. It was a beautiful expression of gratitude that worked both ways.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Softness is your friend during the holidays. Cotton blends are great. Black leggings paired with a hot, metallic-adorned shirt will give you ease of motion when you accidentally drop a bowl of cranberry sauce on the kitchen floor. But, you’ll also have your quick change-a-rue ready for your after-party with friends. I do a special skin treatment during the holidays, as well. I exfoliate with Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant and apply Estee Lauder’s Extreme Night Repair (because Lord knows, travel snafus will have you losing sleep in a hot minute). Keep a tinted, lip balm in your bag along with some Skin Refresher Spray (I like MAC Fix), so when you’re stuck in the airport for 17 hours, you’ll have a little pick-me-up. I always keep a good protein bar in my bag at all times, as well. Larabars are my friend! Straight up ingredients. No chemicals.

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DO NOT OVER COMMIT

If you say you’re going to commit to bringing the salad, no need to go all Gordon Ramsay on that sh*t. Get a salad mix and forget it. There’s going to be so much food already, no one will even notice. Throw together some basil, tomatoes and arugula coupled with some olive oil, pepper and balsamic and you are good to go.

MEASURE YOUR TIME

You’re a valuable, independent and empowered woman. You are responsible for the energy you bring and take away. With all the madness going on in the world today, it’s easy to get sucked up into the vortex of negativity. Holidays tend to bring up a lot of emotions for people. With practice, however, you will learn where you can and can’t go, both physically and mentally. Make a plan of action of how much time you want to spend in individual situations the night before a holiday get-together so you’re not “winging it” the next day. Decide what kinds of conversations you will and will not entertain with family. For instance, I don’t get into politics or religion at family dinners because I like being able to digest my food and  it just goes in a gigantic circle and no one wins. I’m there to enjoy the people that I love and a turkey flying across the table over some disagreement isn’t a good look.

Make a plan to see a movie or have coffee with a friend after dinner. It’s a perfect segue back to reality. Enjoy yourself!

 

About Kristen Demesilda

Kristen Demesilda

Writer and Photographer for Virago Magazine, Kristen grew up listening to vinyl and highlighting the dictionary. Her work has appeared in IrockJazz.com, The East Harlem Journal, Boston’s Culturehive, the Ithacan and other publications. Her love of music cannot be eclipsed by her love of words. She’s been coined the “Akira Kurosawa of Blogs” by such people as herself. An aspiring musician, she has a serious penchant for peach-flavored anything, multi-tasking, slow-paced thrillers and dreams of going back to South America, laying on the beach, and drinking from a coconut.

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