Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How to Throw an Improptu New Year's Eve Party

By Stacey Banks
Style and Focus Lifestyle PR

All of a sudden you decided you wanted to host a New Year's Eve Party. Nothing big or fancy just a fun party to celebrate the new year. You've already invited your friends and have the music picked-out but what else.

What to Eat & What to Pour:

A quick and simply appetizer to make is bruschetta. Toasted bread topped with garlic, tomatoes, salt & pepper and Parmesan cheese. Hopefully you checked out your fridge and cabinets to see what staples you have if not after work (hopefully you'll get out early) pick up some loaves of French or Italian bread, a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil (optional).

Another serving suggestion is to create a platter of an assortment of cheeses, fresh fruit along side a small bowl of marinated olives with an assortment of crackers and toothpicks (cheat sheet: find marinated olives at the grocery store). You could also serve brie cheese drizzled with honey and sprinkled with fresh herbs. Finishing touches: chips or popcorn in a big bowl and an assortment of dips and dipping oils for the veggies.

Short on time, you can always pick up a ready-to-serve fruit, cheese, veggie, meat and/or shrimp party platters in the deli and bakery section at your grocery store and order a couple of cheese pizzas (you can add your own toppings). If the containers don't look as great as the food just place everything on one of your serving platters or plates. This especially goes for removing the pizza out of the box.

Arrange various cookies, cupcakes, pies, cakes, pastries etc on a small table with plenty of napkins.

An open bar is best because it gives you time to enjoy the party. Set out ice, wine (red and white), non-alcoholic beverages: water, pop, juice, and a signature cocktail served in a pitcher. To ring in the new year don't forget the champagne or sparkling wine. Two affordable options: Tosti Asti Italian Sparkling Wine (retails for $8.25) and Cook's Grand Reserve California Champagne (retails for $5.25). A great option for mimosas for brunch is J. Roget Extra Dry Champagne (retails for $3.37).

The Decore:
You want to keep it simple but you still want the glam factor. A few options: 1) Place black top hats (cheat sheet: find at the dollar store) filled with noise makers, horns, and confetti around the room. 2) Place colorful Christmas ornaments (or just use either silver or gold) in bowls or cylinders with horns and noise makers. 3) Fill glassware (it doesn't have to match) with mini marshmallows and candy canes.

Don't forget to clear away the clutter and lock doors you don't want guests entering.

Keep lighting medium-low and for additional lighting use Christmas lights in glassware in place of candles.

Most important:
This is the last party of the year and you should have as much fun as your guest so don't over do it and don't try to be the Perfect Host. Just relax and have a great time. Also, provide guests with numbers for the taxi to make sure they won't drink and drive.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Style and Focus News Bites: Movies, Magazines, Engagements and Eco-Business

** Disney Pulls Out of Next 'Narnia' Movie. Walt Disney Co. said it won't be involved in a third "Chronicles of Narnia" movie, pulling out of a longstanding partnership with co-producer Walden Media to finance the children's franchise that once represented one of the most promising film properties in the Disney stable.

Disney cited "budgetary considerations and other logistics" as reasons for not financing the film. But the studio's decision comes in the midst of a sharp downward turn for the franchise, based on the popular fantasy books by C.S. Lewis. The series' first film, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," grossed $745 million world-wide in 2005, while the second film "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," brought in just $419 million world-wide when it was released earlier this year. Reports at the time of the film's May release estimated that it cost as much as $200 million to produce, not counting marketing costs.

Some of Walden Media's recent films, such as "Nim's Island" and "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium," have also stumbled at the box office, though its 3-D film "Journey to the Center of the Earth" performed well this summer. (Wall Street Journal)

** A new magazine launched that will focus on the single life. David C. Wright, an entrepreneur, recently launched Singular, a Los Angeles magazine for singles. "We want people to not feel stigmatized," said Wright, "whether it's a chapter of your life or longer, it's all right to be single." Singular is considered a controlled-circulation magazine because it is sent free of charge to people with a certain income and makes money from advertising rather than subscriptions. (Los Angeles Times)

** America's Next Top Model winner Eva Marcille (formerly Eva Pigford) announced her newly engagement to Tyler Perry’s House of Payne star Lance Gross. The proposal happened on Christmas Eve. (E!)

** A federal judge said Fox retains rights to distribute the Warner Bros. superheroes film 'Watchmen,'. The ruling in favor of Fox comes as a surprise, given that the studio appeared to have dropped the project more than a decade ago and was not involved in producing the film, which is based on a comic book series by the same name and is scheduled to hit theaters in March. The decision came in a five-page order issued on Wednesday. "Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the Watchmen motion picture," the ruling read.

The judge advised the studios, at this point, to focus on reaching a settlement or appealing the decision. "The parties may wish to turn their efforts from preparing for trial to negotiating a resolution of this dispute or positioning the case for review," he wrote. It's not clear how the studios involved might resolve the dispute. Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc., could pay Fox a lump sum or cut it in on a portion of the profits. Also not certain is whether Fox would have to put up some of the film's production costs under such an arrangement. (Wall Street Journal)

** According to inTouch Weekly, actress Zooey Deschanel and musician Hunter Burgan are engaged. The proposal happened over the weekend of December 20th.

** Coca-Cola's Landmark Billboard in Times Square Goes Green. The Coca-Cola Company's iconic red billboard in New York City's Times Square is going "green" in time for New York's famous New Year's celebration. Coca-Cola is leading a unanimous eco-friendly shift to wind power among 30 billboards that tower over the world's most recognizable intersection.

Coca-Cola was the first company to select clean, renewable wind power to light up their billboard located at 47th and Broadway. After Coca-Cola made their commitment, all of the neighboring billboards on three buildings around Times Square joined the movement through an electric supply agreement with ConEdison Solutions and the building management company.

This voluntary action is the latest example of Coca-Cola's commitment to Live Positively, an operating philosophy that guides the Company's service to its customers, consumers and communities. This guiding philosophy is the basis for the Company's consumer-focused programs, products and packaging, and efforts to help the environment. To learn more about Live Positively and Coca-Cola's efforts to support recycling, the environment and sustainable energy, visit the new Web site (Press Release)

Hair Accessories that will Glam Up your New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve Hair trends will have accessories on full display. The end of the year is the perfect opportunity to go glam or go a little wild with hair accessories. What's hot for New Year's will be: 1) Chic, Old Hollywood Glam, 2) Flapper Inspired Feathered Headbands and 3) Metallics, Sequins and Jewels. These attention grabbing accessories will have you sparkling until '09 rings in.

Hair Tip: To keep from looking overdone, keep hair low-key. Let the accessory command the attention.

Sequined Headband $2.80 Forever21

Tiara Headband $39.00 bebe

Bop Bijoux Gold Braided Headband with Cystals $100.00

Sequin Check Headband $5.80 Forever21

Juicy Couture Women's Wide Glitter Leather Hard Headband $50.00 each Bloomingdale's

Leopard Charm Headband $49.00 bebe

Juicy Couture Women's Leather with Pave Heart $45.00 Bloomingdale's

Square Jewel Headband $44.00 bebe

Goody Luxe Small Pearl Bobby Slides $4.99 drugstore

Jennifer Behr Satin Headwrap with Swarovski Crystal $68.00 Saks Fifth Avenue

Dapple Feather Headband $32.00 Fred Flare (

Festivity Hair Clip $80.00 Swarovski (

Butterfly Stone Haircomb $5.80 Forever21

Winter Jewels Headband $38.00 Free People (

Shiny Headband $9.50 American Apparel

Feather Headwrap with Applique $24.00 Urban Outfitters (

Blu Bijoux Royality Headband $45.00 Max & Chloe (

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Smooth Fitness Offers Advice to Keep You on Track for Fitness Goals in 2009

More than 50% of Americans make fitness related New Year's Resolution - only 20% succeed

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa., Dec. 29 -- For many Americans, the New Year means a clean slate and a chance to right the wrongs of the previous year. Unfortunately, each year millions of us make some type of fitness related New Year's resolution, but only about 20% of those resolutions are actually kept. Smooth Fitness, the largest online retailer of home fitness equipment, provides some advice to help everyone reach their fitness goals for 2009.

"We see it every year, everyone sticks to their resolution for a few weeks, maybe a month but eventually they slip back into their bad habits," said Chad Tackett, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Expert, Smooth Fitness. "The key thing for people to understand is that in order to be successful it is really about a lifestyle change, not crash diets or workout fads."

Smooth Fitness offers a few tips for the start of a healthy year and ways to stick to your New Years resolution:

* Set a realistic goal - Resolving to look like a supermodel is not realistic for the majority of people but eating healthier and increasing daily physical activity certainly is possible.

* Develop a plan of attack - Determine your goals and specify how you will achieve them. Be specific. "Exercise" isn't a specific plan, but running for 20 minutes each morning is a plan. It is also helpful to set milestones you plan to reach throughout the year rather than just one overall goal. It is much less intimidating to attempt to achieve a series of small goals throughout the year than one lofty goal that seems far out of reach.

* Adjust your diet accordingly - Drink more water. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Take a daily vitamin. Substitute sugar and flour with Splenda and whole grains. A well-balanced diet will be crucial to reaching your fitness goals.

* Do the little things - Take the stairs instead of using the elevator. Park further away from the office building. Do a few jumping-jacks during television commercial breaks. You'll be amazed with how quickly all the little things begin to add up.

* Don't go it alone - Everyone needs a little help from time to time. Ask friends and family to participate in your resolution. You can also enlist the help of a professional fitness trainer.

* Celebrate your successes - When you reach a milestone, reward yourself with something special. This doesn't mean having a big piece of cake because you lost 5 pounds. Try something non-food related like a professional massage or round of golf.

For additional information and advice please visit Smooth Fitness online at

About Smooth Fitness:

Smooth Fitness is the number one online retailer of home fitness equipment and the 255th largest e-commerce site in the United States as ranked by Internet Retailer. The Company currently markets the Smooth line of treadmills and elliptical trainers to consumers over the Internet on its web site. The Smooth line of products has consistently been seen as one of the most cost-effective equipment lines available. The Smooth brand of fitness equipment is sold directly from the manufacturer and only on the Internet. The customer gets the convenience of shopping online combined with factory direct savings of 40% -- 45%. The fitness equipment is shipped from the Company's warehouses in Indiana, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Style and Focus Weekend: Girls Night In: Slumber Party

Recharge from all the holiday stress with a little Girls Night In. Instead of going out indulge your inner teen and host an old-fashion Slumber Party but with plenty of champagne or signature cocktails, beauty treatments, movies, comfort and junk food (i.e. chocolate cake) and tons of gossip. Don't worry about calories this is the time to sit back and relax before New Year's Eve and catch up with good friends.

Just make sure your place is cozy and comfortable with plenty of blankets and pillows.

Photo: Illustrator: David Hahn

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Victoria Beckham's 10 Rules of Style for Men

This article can be found archived in the October issue of DETAILS magazine with Daniel Radcliffe on the cover.

1. Style isn’t about money. One of the nicest outfits on a man is a pair of jeans, some old, messed-up boots, a simple white tee, and a vintage leather belt. You don’t have to spend a lot. It’s about mixing and matching and getting things that fit properly.

2. Men who wear skinny jeans won’t be wearing my jeans. I don’t think jeans should be tight around their bollocks. I don’t want to see that part of a guy’s anatomy all squashed in.

3. What to wear on a first date is a tricky one. You don’t want to be too dressed up or not dressed up enough. It totally depends where you’re going. Wear something you’re comfortable in, because you’re going to be slightly nervous.

4. I don’t mind a vintage T-shirt with a logo on it that’s tongue-in-cheek. But if a man were to just have a huge logo on his chest, no. I think that’s very unattractive.

5. It’s romantic when a guy makes an effort. For our anniversary recently, David had all these beautiful flowers placed in our garden and he had someone come in and cook and he had nice music playing. We put the kids to bed and then we spent the night together, just talking in front of the fire.

6. Boys don’t have nearly as much fun with fashion as girls do.

7. I think a man always has to look clean, to start. And obviously he has to smell nice. Grooming is really important.

8. You have to be very careful when you start dyeing your hair. I can’t bear it when men start to lose their hair color and they give it a rinse—blue, black, purple.

9. I really don’t like it when guys wear tight tops—like those cycling-looking, Lance Armstrong-inspired ones—trying to show off muscles and the fact that they’ve been at the gym a lot.

10. It’s cool for a woman to look like she cares, but I don’t think it’s as cool for a man to look like he’s spent hours in front of the mirror. A man that doesn’t try too hard to look good is sexy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tom Ford's 10 Rules of Style for Men

This article can be found in the December issue of DETAILS magazine with Tom Cruise on the cover.

1. I don’t believe in playing around much with suit cuts. I like a fairly classic shape that gives a man strong shoulders, a fitted waist, and long legs. Classic simplicity always works.

2. Someone who is secure enough to be very present when relating to another person is sexy. In other words, a good listener always lands who he wants.

3. When mixing patterns, don’t think about it too much—just throw it together.

4. I hate the trend of short suit jackets. When a man’s butt is showing below the bottom of his jacket, I think it makes him look like a female flight attendant from the back—not my idea of sexy.

5. With jewelry, I actually like bracelets more than anything else, but they have to be small and simple. Cary Grant always wore a simple gold bracelet with his watch, and I think that was very chic.

6. If you’re careful not to overuse Botox, then yes, why shouldn’t you use it? A little bit of it between the brows can make you look less stern and more approachable. Who needs to frown, anyway?

7. Just like girls need to learn to be comfortable in heels before they go out in them for the first time, a man should try wearing a suit throughout a normal day. I do most things in a suit—and sometimes even in a tuxedo—and so I’m really comfortable in one.

8. When it comes to grooming, keep earwax out of the ears and keep stray hairs and flakes of skin in check and you should be good to go. In the morning, I put ice cubes on my eyes and use lots of Visine.

9. Time and silence are the most luxurious things today.

10. There’s one indulgence every man should try in his lifetime: If you’re straight, sleep with a man at least once, and if you’re gay, don’t go through life without sleeping with a woman. Either way, you might be surprised at how natural it will feel if you can get past the mind-fuck of stereotypes. In the end, it’s just another person that you are relating to in a physical way.

56 Accessories for $50 & Under: Part 5

41. Saddle Up Handbag $39.50

42. Pink Keishi Earrings $45.00 Indie Shopper (

43. Ombre Teardrop Earrings $39.00 Banana Republic

44. Embossed Faux-Snake Clasp Wallet $14.00 Arden B.

45. Ruched French Purse $48.00 Victoria's Secret

46. Shiny Silver Rectangle Clutch $19.50 Windsor (

47. Rivington Bag $39.50

48. Flapper Headband $38.00 Shop Intuition (

49. Peacock Earrings $3.80 Forever21

50. Braided Zigzag Bead Necklace $14.90

51. Sparkle Bangle 5-piece Set $34.00 Banana Republic

52. Metal Disc Earrings $3.80 Forever21

53. Silver Sequin Clutch $22.90 Windsor (

54. Jet Crystal Stretch Bracelet $28.00 Guess

55. Patent Embossed Crocodile Accordian Wallet $34.00 Arden B.

56. Nordstrom Reusable Tote $21.95 Nordstrom

Monday, December 22, 2008

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Trailer


Despite rumblings about actor Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) being casted as Gambit and actress Lynn Collins being casted as Silver Fox instead of an Indian actress for the role, fans are excited about this upcoming movie about the popular Marvel Comic character.

56 Accessories for $50 & Under: Part 4

31. Mesh Earrings $14.99 sale XOXO (

32. Simply Vera - Vera Wang Split Headband $5.00 sale Kohl's

33. Lilly Pulitzer Turning Heads Headbands $30.00 each In The Pink (

34. Roxy Maxed Out Tote $39.99 sale Active Ride Shop (

35. 4 in 1 Patent Cosmetic Cases $35.00 Shop Intuition (

36. Twilight Sequin Beret $19.50

37. Dramatic Silver Chandelier Earrings $35.00 Guess

38. Embossed Hard Case Clutch $49.00 bebe

39. Swingers Diamond Floral Earrings $28.00 Guess

40. AE Charm Jet Bracelet $12.50 American Eagle