Holiday Playlist Suggestions to Make Sure Your Party Doesn’t Totally Suck

The Holidays are stressful. Did you get the right presents for your extended family and all their annoying children? Will Diana from Accounting like the scarf you got her for Secret Santa? Is your new boo going to bail before your family Christmas party even though they promised they’re coming? We hear you, and we understand.

If it’s your turn to DJ the office holiday party, or if you are deciding to throw a festive bash, you’ve come to the right place. While you stress about decorations, drinks, and food, we’ve got your back with some playlist suggestions to keep you Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.

Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You

I couldn’t start off this list without putting the Queen of Christmas herself at the top. I’ve heard a rumour that Mariah Carey disappears for most of the year until we reach the Holidays, when she emerges stronger than ever, whistle tones and all.

The Jackson 5 – Christmas Album

Add a little Motown into your playlist with The Jackson 5 holiday album. This album plays all the classics that we know and love with flair.

Ariana Grande – Christmas & Chill Album

Queen of pop, Ariana Grande, brings us perhaps the most lit Christmas album ever. This album is so good that you can listen to it all year round but it will especially have your party guests throwing it back on the dance floor during the holidays.

*NSYNC – Home For Christmas

Let’s take it back to the ’90s. If you miss JT’s ramen noodle looking hair as much as I do, then you’re going to want to revisit *NSYNC’S Home For Christmas album. This album is certified platinum and will have everybody up on their feet.

TLC – Sleigh Ride

There’s nothing quite like ’90s Christmas R&B. TLC is iconic and of course we are going to do all we can to include it in this list. This tune is an underrated Christmas classic.

Sia – Everyday Is Christmas

Sia has released her first Christmas album and it shouldn’t go unnoticed. This album includes some fun, up-tempo songs, and a few savoury ballads that will be the perfect background noise.

 

Destiny’s Child – 8 Days of Christmas

I do whatever I can to include Destiny’s Child into many areas of my life. This throwback album will be the perfect start to your Christmas season.

RUN-DMC – Christmas In Hollis

This song is a Christmas classic. It would be impossible to create a holiday party playlist without including RUN-DMC.

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Books on This Year’s Holiday Wish List

There are no shortage of good books out there. If you are wondering what to gift your book-loving kin but don’t know where to begin, here are some titles at the top of my to-read list this holiday season.

Canadian: The Selected Short Fiction of Lisa Moore by Lisa Moore

Lisa Moore is an all time favourite when it comes to short fiction. She is a distinctly Canadian writer, often alluding to her native Newfoundland or to neighbourhoods in downtown Toronto. Her writing is inimitable — matter of fact and freely imagistic. She is interested in human relationships and devises rich emotional worlds that linger invisibly over commonplace settings and events. I look forward to reading her very best in this collection.

Award Winning: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I’ve yet to read Kazuo Ishiguro, but Never Let Me Go seems as good a place as any to begin. Set in dystopian England, it follows the lives of human clones, manufactured for the purpose of donating vital organs to prolong the lives of ordinary citizens. It was short listed for the 2005 Booker prize and included in TIME’s 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. Ishiguro was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature.

Oddball: Notable American Women by Ben Marcus

I sincerely hope that this strange and wonderful-seeming book finds its way onto my shelf. Ben Marcus experiments with language as he tells the tale of the fictional Marcus family. In the beginning, a young Ben recounts his mother’s rituals as she works to make the world perfectly still; she “chooses not to move, refuses to speak” to eliminate the “wind violence” of words. What’s next, I don’t know, but I’m sure that it’s equally bizarre.

Best Seller: Swing Time by Zadie Smith                                                                                                

Swing Time sits comfortably in the window of nearly every other bookshop and in the hands of café dwellers and subway riders alike. Once, I even saw somebody walking down the street with it, unfazed by the likelihood of tripping or bumping into a stranger or wandering into a burning building. This must be a good book.  It’s a bildungsroman, following two girls who meet in a community dance class. While the friendship between them ends in their early twenties, it is never forgotten. According to the back cover, it’s “a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them.”

Non Fiction: Essays Against Everything by Mark Grief

Mark Greif refers to Essays Against Everything as a critique of the things he does. He looks culture in the face and questions it head to toe; topics range from the overvaluation of exercise, to the hipster, to the concept of Experience. In the preface Greif says, “To wish to be against everything is to want the world to be bigger than all of it, disposed to dissolve rules and compromises in a gallon or a drop”.

Holiday Beauty Gift Guide 2017

Let’s say you’ve got a beauty junkie in your life.

Someone that takes at least 30 minutes to get ready, someone who plans their makeup before their outfit (or even coordinates them, which is pretty next level), someone who knows the difference in tones between red lipsticks or someone who enters Sephora and actually knows what they’re looking for.

What do you get this person for Christmas?

Firstly, don’t underestimate the power of a good snoop. See what brands they seem to like, items they go through quickly. Listen to them when they talk about makeup. Maybe there’s something they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves, but something they’ve always wanted.

While you can always go the gift card route — tried and true, though a little uninspired —  you could also dive headfirst into Christmas-shopping-mania and find the perfect gift for the beauty lover in your life.

We can help you there.

tarte Limited Edition Treasure Box

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This is a wildly-well-priced gift set from a wonderful makeup brand, containing almost everything you need to do a full face of makeup except for foundation. tarte’s makeup is good, in the nature of full disclosure they are one of my favourite brands, and is entirely vegan if your beauty junkie is concerned with the ingredients of the product. This guy will keep on giving: the potential for a lot of use, over a long period of time.

Find it here.

Juliette Has a Gun Discovery Kit

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Fragrance is so specific to every person that it’s hard to get it right unless you know someone really well. A good solution to that, of course, is to bombard them with so many scent options they have no choice but to find one they really like (and possibly regift the rest.) Mini perfumes are perfect to take on the go, not to mention Juliette Has a Gun have some wonderfully unique and gorgeous scents available. This is the perfect way for someone to be introduced to the brand.

Find it here.

Tom Ford Black Orchid Set

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So yes, scent is specific to every person, but come on, I think everyone likes Tom Ford. His makeup brand is the pinnacle of luxury. The packaging! The scent! The price tag! This is a splurge gift for sure, only for those who have made peace with a high budget, but if you know your intended gift receiver is a bit of a lush, the you know this gift will be a hit. Like, when you wear this, you smell expensive.

Find it here.

Sephora Favourites Give Me Some Nude Lip

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If you can’t decide on one lipstick to get someone, or if you go spying in their makeup collection see so many brands you don’t even understand how its possible, I will point you in the direction of the Sephora Favourites lip set. This gift set has lippies from Kat Von D, Buxom and Bite Beauty and contains both liquid lipsticks and, well… lip-sitcks. And they’re all nudes so they’re guaranteed to actually be used. Basically the perfect gift for the person you have no idea what to get for.

Find it here.

Fenty Beauty

Okay, so we all know Rihanna is a goddess who can do no wrong, and it was a surprise to absolutely no one that there makeup collection is damn good. Even if someone already has pieces from the collection, it seems unlikely someone would say no to getting more Fenty Beauty. Nearly everything from the collection is a safe bet, but may I point you towards:

Galaxy Eyeshadow Palette
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Glittery eyeshadows galore in beautiful, limited edition packaging.

Find it here.

Killawatt Freestyle Highlight in Trophy Wife
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The greatest highlighter to have ever been made. Whoever wears it will literally look like a million bucks. Like a stack of gold coins.

Find it here.

MAC Rossy de Palma Collection

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“Limited edition” and “collaboration” are words that are pretty exciting and hysteria-inducing in the beauty community and MAC is on top of the game. Their collabs are always timely, well-made, and beyond tempting. They do have a few available right now, such as the Nicki Minaj and Robert Lee Morris collections, and, while both are exquisite, my personal favourite is the collection with Spanish actress Rossy de Palma partly because she’s fabulous and partly because the packaging is so luxe.

Find the collection here.

MAC Snow Ball Pigment and Glitter Kit

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If you know your gift-intended loves some glitz and glam in their life, why not give the gift of glitter? MAC pigments are famous for their staying power and potency and these colours are perfect for the winter. Not to mention they come in a cute little disco ball clutch for even more glam.

Find it here.

Colorpop Yes Please! Palette

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Colorpop is a well-made, incredibly fairly-priced makeup brand, so most of their products are good for the more modest budget but will make a huge impact. The Yes Please! palette is a real show-stopper for the brand. The palette was on Nylon’s beauty hit list of 2017 and features 12 gorgeous warm-toned shades, guaranteed to look good on everyone.

Find it here.

L’Occitane Advent Calendar

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At this point, it’s getting close to the wire, but I had to include one beauty advent calendar, firstly because they are just the best and secondly because they are so difficult to find in Canada that we all need to share the good ones when we are able to find them. L’Occitane’s advent calendar is pretty iconic already, at a decent price point for the amount of high-quality products you get from it. This year they’ve also put out a premium advent calendar for the big spenders, but the original is a great way to introduce someone to the brand if they’ve never tried it before.

Find it here.

L’Occitane Divine Collection

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For the skincare fanatic in your life, L’Occitane is a good way to go, and their Divine collection is a particularly well-advised gifting idea. It’s anti-aging, but you won’t necessarily offend anyone by giving it to them because the products in this line are also moisturizing, luminizing and all-around nice-skin-makers. (That being said, maybe don’t gift this to anyone who is real sensitive about aging.) The set contains an all-over cream, an eye cream, a cleaner and a face oil — a full skincare routine ready to go.

Find it here.

Inspired Soap Works Velvety Salve

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Lastly, I’ve got something pretty different from everything else we’ve talked about on here. Inspired Soap Works is a smaller Canadian company with a big impact, selling hand-made affordable skincare products. One of their last launches are a line of salves for the entire body, from head to toe. The salves are formulated without water, so despite them coming in small packages, they really will go a long way. These are the ideal ~stocking stuffers~.

Find it here.

The Christmas gift guide for Francophiles

Few days ago I went to the Distillery Christmas market and realized that Christmas will be upon us in 38 days… yes, they put a huge countdown at the entrance and you cannot miss it!!! As you read these words, you have even less time left so it’s time for you to think about gifts. If you have Francophiles around, this gift guide is going to help you.

Ma P’tite Culotte, women’s lingerie

Offering a new set of lingeries to a woman you love is always a good idea. Ma P’tite Culotte is a French brand that offers an optimistic and enthusiastic line of lingeries. For her last collection, Charline Goutal decided to create pieces that correspond to women’s moods.

Available on Ma Ptite Culotte website

Le Slip Français, French underpants

The founders of this underwear brand believe that companies can no longer just be economic forces with a narrow sense of purpose; they must, instead, define and pursue certain values. Their definition of success includes the well-being of those around them and the sustainability of their business: “You want to change the world? Start by changing your briefs.”

Available on Le Slip Français website

MAGNETHIK ethical handbags

MAGNETHIK is a brand founded by Fabienne Pomi, a French, vegan fashion lover who offers made in France and vegan handbags. All the pieces are made without any animal products and according to an ecological and ethical process. MAGNETHIK has been voted “Best Fashion Novelty” by the PETA association in 2016.

Available at Importation Lou

Chapon chocolates

Patrice Chapon is one of seven French bean-to-bar chocolate makers. His know-how is internationally recognized — he just got two awards from Salon du Chocolat in Paris.

Available on Chapon website and in Toronto at McEwan Don Mills and TD Centre Location.

Red wine

A Francophile will always appreciate a glass of good red wine. This gift is probably the safest — you cannot go wrong with it. If you feel like offering a bottle of red wine to one of your relatives, I recommend this bottle of Château Vignot Saint Emilion, 2009. It goes perfectly with cheese.

Available at LCBO

LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEA: SAY HELLO TO HELLOFRESH

Christmas is literally right around the corner and I’m sure everyone is scrambling to get their last minute shopping done. With jam packed malls and crowded stores, it makes you not want to get up and head over to your favourite shopping centre. But an amazing gift doesn’t have to be sitting on a heavy duty rack, surrounded by people fighting over the same item. Shopping online definitely has its perks and the best part is, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own bed. So this is where I introduce to you, HelloFresh.

HelloFresh is an international meal delivery company that offers sustainable packaging and delicious, healthy meals. There are three different plans to choose from; the Veggie Plan, which offers delicious vegetarian dinners; the Pronto Plan, filled with a variety of farm fresh ingredients; and the Family Plan, which feeds up to four people. Every plan is assembled with three different meals in one box. You never know what type of veggies or meats you’ll be receiving each month, which makes the whole process even more exciting.

To keep all of the ingredients nice and fresh, everything is packaged into 100% recyclable and biodegradable cardboard. It is then insulated with silver box liners and filled with recyclable plastic icepacks. To ensure freshness, certain ingredients are then placed in food-safe plastic packaging. Once you receive your box, you want to store everything directly into your fridge or freezer right away, unless you can’t wait and decide to whip up a quick meal. If you’re not too sure how to make the best out of the ingredients you are given, HelloFresh has recipes for each meal on their website. If you’re not one to follow recipes, get creative and put your own twist on it.

This subscription box is absolutely perfect for anyone who loves to spend time in the kitchen, or enjoys experimenting with new foods. And you never know, maybe you’ll get a tasty Christmas dinner from it.

If you are interested in trying one of these delicious subscription boxes, visit www.hellofresh.ca and have your pick. When checking out, use my code ‘NOVELLA60’ for $30 off your first box. If you decide to order another one, use the same code to receive $30 off your second box! So lets get cooking this holiday season. Cheers, and enjoy.

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