15 December 2009

Cookies and Sweaters and Booze, Oh My!

Season's Greetings from the Crescent City! I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to post on Paul's blog again as he enjoys a much-deserved break.

So we're ten days away from Christmas and I have to admit that I am woefully unprepared for the holiday. I currently work at the Roosevelt Hotel in downtown New Orleans, and while I have been inundated with decorations, carols and festively dressed holiday revelers since Thanksgiving, I have not been able to get into the spirit of the season. Any of you who have ever worked in the service industry know that the holidays can be one of the most profitable but work-weary times of the year. While everyone comes out to enjoy food, drink and holiday fun, you are in charge of making sure the food and beverages hit the table in a timely fashion while you support the merriment, regardless of the fact that 32 old ladies all want separate checks and need you to capture all of their fun on film while dealing with six other tables.

I was able to attend a holiday function last night as a guest, compliments of my dear friend Brandon, who invited me to accompany him to his company's Christmas party. We indulged in an elegant affair of food and drink (I LIVE for an open bar!) and had the opportunity to enjoy some jazz after dinner. The evening helped me to get in the holiday spirit and reminded me of fun times of Christmases past.

Brandon and I used to live in St. Petersburg, FL, and the two of us, along with Paul, always had a grand time around the holidays. Stopping by Brandon's house the other night for an evening of wine and holiday musicale, I saw that he put up the tree he used to display in Florida, and it reminded me of some the annual events I enjoyed so much at Christmas.

Brandon's tree in St. Petersburg

One of my favorite events was the annual Cookie Exchange and Fashion Show. Each year, one of us would host a gathering of confirmed bachelors to partake in the event that's touted in all of the Lifestyle magazines as a fun way to exchange recipes and gather holiday sweets for one's home. Being the creative types, we decided in addition to the cookies, we would all model fabulously atrocious holiday outerwear to add to the festive mood. With the exception of Paul, who doesn't drink, we also made sure to have ample supplies of hooch on hand to keep everyone well lubricated as the event progressed. I loved to show off horrendous holiday sweaters, which was easy to accomplish as I worked for HSN at the time and had access to surplus inventory from the Storybook Knits collection. Behold:

Yes, the faux strands of pearls were a hostess gift from me to all attendees of the first Cookie Exchange back in 2003, and those necklaces seemed to always make an appearance at subsequent holiday functions.

Ever the creative one, here's Brandon in his homage to Sonja Henie:
One year, we even had the honor of having "Joan Crawford" attend the fete, although why she opted to show up sans hairpiece was a question we talked about for the entire season.
I won't bore you with recipes for the treats we shared (I was usually too loaded to remember what we ate until I saw the leftovers the next day), but I encourage everyone to host a Cookie Exchange and Fashion Show. It's simple and fun, and guarantees that everyone will get into the Christmas spirit.

Paul's tree in 2004

Whatever you celebrate, I wish you all the best for happy, healthy holiday season.


  1. I don't even have a copy of that year in face. Oh such times! Christmas can't be the same without you two around. It just can't. After all these years I finally understnd what Dolly meant when she sang about a hard
    candy Christmas.

  2. too funny, love the pearls and want recipes!

  3. Great post! Reminds me of how much I miss my friends from times gone by.

  4. ...and what age are we talking about when reference is made to 32 OLD ladies? You know young man, they probably are all on fixed incomes bequeathed by their deceased spouse ..... whom by the way they outlived! :)

    It appears you gentlemen had good times, now get your a$$ into the spirit of the season and at least get decked out in your Holiday attire. There is only eleven days left!
    Fun post.

  5. I'm glad you liked the post. Going through my pictures was a wonderful trip down memory lane.

    Brenda, you are correct; most of my clientele probably did outlive their husbands. I've done my best to make their holiday outings festive and enjoyable.

    As for recipes, Paul and Brandon are the bakers in the group. I'm sure they will be happy to share recipes.

  6. Oh, the holiday sweater. Last weekend at a bar in Dallas, two fraternity dudes walked in wearing atrocious holiday cardigans. Payback for a lost bet, no doubt. Even worse, they had no idea that proper holiday sweater attire requires a black, white or red turtleneck under the sweater. Fools had their cardigans buttoned up to the neck, no undershirt!

    They didn't stay long enough for me to check out their holiday manicures.


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