Reverberating Celebrations!

I love the word celebration.  It has a reverberating energy that’s hard to describe.   To celebrate means to observe a notable occasion with festivities.  On December 31st, millions of revellers around the world in some 24 different time zones will fill streets, town squares and attend large and intimte gatherings to welcome the New Year.  At exactly 12 o’clock midnight, if you just stand still, you can almost hear the wishes for a “Happy New Year” for miles and miles around.  If you live in or near a big city, the fireworks start at midnight and seem to go on forever. 

For others, this is a time of quiet reflection.  Millions will attend church services, others will toast in the New Year watching popular television shows with family and friends.  And yet others will not make it until midnight and will have fallen asleep well before any announcement of the New Year can be made.   

However you decide to welcome the New Year, it is worth at least giving a nod to the fact that it will arrive at exactly 12:00 midnight on December 31st.  As with all other years, the year 2009 promises to be unique and one of a kind.   


Rose Champagne Bubbles.jpg

Champagne and Sparkling Wine: For a toast to the victories of 2008 and to hopes and wishes for 2009!


Consumer Search Top 5 Best Reviewed Champagnes

Best value, sparkling wine

1. Roderer Estate Anderson Valley Brut NV (Est. $20) – Said to easily be mistaken for fine French Champagne because it’s made using techniques used by top French producer Louis Roederer. 

Best Inexpensive bubbly

2.  Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut NV (Est. $15) – Called an elegant champagne style wine for under $20.

Best value, French Champagne

3.  Nicholas Feuillatte Brut NV (Est. $30) – Referred to as lively and festive with hints of peach and citrus.  If kept in a cellar for a year or so, it will develop even further. 

Best special-occasion Champagne

4.  Charles Heidsieck 1995 Blanc des Millenaires (Est. $100) – Called the best bet in its price class.  It is a chardonnay-only Champagne and is said to be creamy, with flavors of honeycomb, flowers, bread and minerals.  Reviews say it’s complex with a lingering finish. 

Best value, sparkling rosé

5. Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé NV (Est. $25) – The fruity flavors and delicate pink hues of rosé sparklers have given them a rise in popularity.  This Brut Rosé is a light salmon color and tastes of berries, figs and ginger according to reviews. 

Add a few berries to my flute and call these picks delicious!


Singing in the New Year: Words to “Auld Lang Syne”

Auld Lang Syne is a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and is set to a traditional folk song.  It is often sung around the world at the stroke of midnight to celebrate the start of the new year. 

The translation means “days gone by.”

English minimalist translation


Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never come to mind?
Should old acquintence be forgot,
and old times since?


For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun til dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.



Good Luck Foods And Other World Traditions


My family has had two food traditions for many years, one is cooking oyster stew and the other black-eyed peas for good luck.  I suspect both are Southern traditions, given my family is from the South.   The notion of eating black-eyed peas likely stems from ancient superstitions that eating beans will increase fertility.

If you’re not planning to cook black-eyed peas for your celebration, a neat party favor might be to fill small cello bags with 1-2 cups of them and cinch with a silver bow.  Along with a party hat, horn and popper, this would be a cool and memorable reminder of a fabulous 2009 celebration!


Sicilians ring in the New Year with a plate of pasta for good luck.


Other Traditions


Wear yellow underwear for good luck.  Venezuelans also write wishes in a letter and burn it so they come true.


Single women put 12 men’s names on slips of paper, plus one blank slip of paper under the pillow.  When they wake up the following morning, they select one of the slips of paper, which means that is the person they will marry.


Danes horde old plates to throw at friends’ houses.  They believe that broken china means more friends.


Whatever your tradition, the very best to you in 2009!



Posted in Christmas 2008. Tags: . Comments Off on Reverberating Celebrations!

After Christmas Spending

A  December 27 Chicago Tribune article is reporting that the number of shopping mall visitors in the US the day-after-Christmas declined by 19% from 2007.  This analysis is based on visits to 26 malls nationwide by NPD Market Research.  These results are preliminary with more comprehensive figures expected Wednesday, December 31st when Shoppertrak reports total US mall foot traffic and on January 8th when major chain stores are expected to report December sales.  With the exception of a few retailers, expectations aren’t very high. 

The bright spot this season is likely to be that online sales increased in some regions because difficult winter weather conditions kept shoppers in and away from malls.  Amazon is reporting that this was its best holiday season ever.  

What this news means for consumers

Consumers are experiencing a retail buyer’s market like none in recent memory but because of economic concerns and realities, fewer shoppers are in the market for after Christmas bargains.  In an effort to attract those who are, retailers are offering discounts not normally seen until January or later.

As outlined in After Christmas Shopping posted on 12.18.2008, this is the perfect time to get a jump start on next year’s shopping.  Based on the way the 2008 shopping season is shaping up, several questions will welcome retailers to the economic reality of 2009.  Those questions will center on how to keep current customers and attract new ones.  They will also be focused on offering better service and creating a better customer experience where and when it’s possible.   This has begun to take shape as we leave 2008. 

The customer will be queen and king in 2009, but there’s likely to be some scaling back of merchandise available for sale, and for that matter, fewer retailers to sell it.  My hope is that we will all continue to do our part to stimulate the economy where we can and where it makes sense for each of us to do so. 

Best Economic Wishes in 2009!

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

About Santa’s Reindeer

Santa Claus has a team of 8 reindeer that pull his sleigh through the night on Christmas Eve to deliver toys and stocking stufferes to children all over the world. 

In the very famous poem by Clement Moore, The Night Before Christmas, Santa calls to his reindeer:

“Now Dasher, now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet, On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall,
now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!”

This is when we first learned that reindeer can fly.  Although the poem doesn’t tell us the order of the reindeer, assuming they are named from front to back, with the reindeer on the left being male, and the reindeer on the right being female, their order on the sleigh would be as follows:


Dasher    Dancer

Prancer     Vixen

Comet        Cupid

Donder   Blitzen 

We know about each reindeer according to their names:

Dasher–  The first reindeer and the right-hand leader of the sleigh before Rudolph was included.  He is the speediest reindeer.

Dancer –  The second reindeer and the left leader before Rudolph was included.  She is the graceful reindeer.

Prancer – The third reindeer and on the right in the second row.  He is the most powerful reindeer.

Vixen– The fourth reindeer and on the left-hand side in the second row.  She is beautiful, and also  powerful like her companion Prancer.

Comet– The fifth reindeer and on the right-hand side in the third row.  He brings wonder and happiness to children when Santa flies over everyone’s houses.

Cupid – The sixth reindeer and on the left-hand side in the third row.  She brings love and joy to children when Santa flies over everyone’s houses.

Donder – The seventh reindeer and on the right-hand side in the fourth row.  His original name was Dunder, a variant of donder, meaning “thunder” in Dutch.

Blitzen– The eight reindeer on the left-hand side in the fourth row.  Though female, she is sometimes portrayed as a male in American culture.  Her original name is Blixem.  She is know as the lightening reindeer because the word “Blitz” is German for lightening, as is “Blixem”,  her original name, in Dutch.   


About Rudolph

According to legend, Rudolph, the son of Donder and the most famous reindeer of all, was born with a very shiny red nose that lit up and caused the other reindeer to laugh and call him names.  Poor Rudolph couldn’t participate in reindeer games because of his funny looking and distracting nose. 

On One foggy Christmas Eve, when Christmas was about to be cancelled, Santa turned to Rudolph with his shiny and beaming nose and asked him to guide his sleigh through the night.  From that point on the reindeer shouted with glee and loved Rudolph, and well, the rest is history!


How Reindeer Fly

Reindeer play special jumping and flying games when they start school, this helps them learn to fly.  They also eat lichen (reindeer moss) and enjoy an enhanced diet of magic oats and corn around Christmastime.  This is said to enhance their flight abilities.   Additionally, reindeer are sprinkled with magical dust on Christmas Eve by elves which enables them to jump high and dash into the night. 

When you’re leaving milk and cookies for Santa, don’t forget to leave magic oats and corn for his team of reindeer.

Merry Christmas!



…..Not Even a Mouse

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

A Poem by Clement Clarke Moore

 ‘ Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

 The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had jut settled down for along winter’s nap.

 When out on the lawn there rose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. 
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up he sash.

 The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave a luster of mid-day to object below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

 With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a  moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.

 “Now Dasher, now Dancer!  Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet!  On, Cupid!  On, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, 
Now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they met with a obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys-and St. Nicholas too.

And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. 
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

 He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A  bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

 His eyes-how they twinkled!  His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow. 

 The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose. 

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down on a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night.”




Last Minute Shopping

Now that the halls have been decked and everything is sparkling bright, you realize it’s almost Christmas and you still haven’t finished shopping.  It turns out the Friday after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday in the US,  isn’t really the busiest shopping day of the year, it’s typically the Saturday before Christmas according to    That would be this weekend coming up!

The good news is there are some awesome deals out there.  Retailers are going to great lengths to get you to shop and will be doing so until the stores close on Christmas Eve.  For all of you last minute shoppers out there, here are a few ideas to consider:


 1. The iPod shuffle is a great little gift packing a lot of punch.  It comes in 5 colors and can be engraved when ordered online. 

 2.  A themed gift basket or goody bag is a great last minute gift.  Package in a basket or great bag with a large bow for an awesome presentation.  These themes might excite a few people on your gift list:

  • Pasta Lover:  Include good pasta sauce, good pasta, breadsticks, pesto and olive oil.
  • Organic Treats: Include drinking chocolate, a chocolate bar, cookies, blue chips, salsa and nuts.
  • Tea: Include good loose leaf tea or sachets, tasty cookies, a tea towel, a tea strainer and honey sticks.
  • Coffee: Include 2 good organic coffees, good biscotti, espresso beans, and a coffee shop gift certificate.
  • Bestseller: Include two good books, a book light, a cool page marker and a note pad.
  • Tech Accessories: Include new ear buds, a blue tooth head set and an 8GB memory card or flash drive.

 3.  Swatch has made a fierce comeback and have great watch styles to choose from for men, women and children.

 4.  Natural body products are here to stay.  A great set of natural body care products will be a big hit.  Think Aveda, Alba BotanicaGiovanni Organics and others. 

 5.  Online Gift Certifcates are great gifts and only require a trip to your PC and the recipient’s email address.  How easy is that!


Happy Last Minute Shopping!



After Christmas Shopping

After Christmas shopping isn’t just for the millions returning gifts or spending gift certificates they received from Santa on Christmas day.  Among the millions heading to malls and shops are the budget conscious shoppers who every year scout out the best deals on gifts to give away during the upcoming year and next Christmas.  They also pick up fantastic decorations, Christmas cards and wrapping paper at super prices. 

Beginning the day after Christmas, merchandise can be found at 50%-75% off at many retailers.  In the  following weeks, when retailers are anxious to get rid of Christmas and holiday merchandise, these discounts can quickly go from 75% to 80% off and in some cases shortly after to 90% off.  

If there is a special item you really want, it might be a little risky to wait for deep discounts this year.  Given the current economy, many retailers don’t have deep stockrooms like in past years and some items simply won’t be available once they’re off the shelves.

After Christmas shopping isn’t just a big deal in the US, in London after Christmas sales are the British equivalent of Black Friday in the US.  Shoppers get in line early and work out strategies for getting the best deals available.


Top items to Shop for after Christmas   

1.  Ornaments

2.  Stocking stuffers for adults and children

3.  Decorations including glasses, dinnerware, linens, trays, Christmas crackers and other holiday themed items

4.  Holiday neutral gifts for Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Birthdays, Father’s Day and Children’s birthday parties

5.  Winter clothing and gifts; cashmere, slippers, pajamas, robes, etc.

6.  Gift bags and wrapping paper to be used for the following Christmas and during the year. Look for holiday neutral colors like white, blue and pink

7.  Food items with Christmas labels are usually good for up to 1 year (check the label or call the manufacturer).  Unless you are giving them within the next few months, buy spices, coffees, teas, chocolate, cookies, nuts and other items to add to your own pantry

8.  New Years Celebration items such as colored champagne glasses, chocolates, trays and party theme colored merchandise.

9.  Christmas sweaters for adults and children – some people really like them!

10.  Christmas plants;  amaryllis, paper whites and holly – if you love plants, you’ll love these year round


Happy Bargain Hunting!