In my humble opinion, there is no better time to be in New York than during the winter holidays. It’s maybe a cheesy thing to say, in the same way it may be cheesy to admit that I still get chills every time I see the skyline from an airplane, or that I’ve done the Sex and the City bus tour twice and not hated it. But it’s true. The holiday season in New York is wonderful. And every year I genuinely try to make the most of it, despite how quickly the days seem to pass. So, as you can imagine, I’m thrilled to share some of my favorite winter holiday traditions on the blog today.
Let’s start with the sweetest tradition on my list, the holiday cookie exchange I host every year for my girlfriends. It’s a bit of an ironic tradition, because…well, a baker I am not. But that’s part of what makes it fun. On a typical year, I’ll mess up at least one batch of cookies before producing something that can be consumed by people I’m not trying to poison. Make a spread of winter-themed appetizers that are much more appetizing (read: baked brie drizzled with cranberries, honey, and walnuts). We drink champagne. And then, at the end of the night, we do a cookie presentation that’s even cheesier than the Brie, all to the tune of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” on repeat in the background. Yes, repeat, as in over and over.
The tradition that requires the thickest skin: Definitely the Fifth Avenue window walk I do with my sisters. The label has nothing to do with my sisters though, or with the windows for that matter. It’s just usually very cold, and we are stubborn, so we hold ourselves to an ambitious schedule, meeting at the Rockefeller tree and then hitting Bloomingdales, Bergdorf’s, Lord & Taylor, and Tiffany & Co. before we finally cry uncle and settle down somewhere toasty for holiday cocktails.
My most fashionable tradition: The gold sequined mini skirt I wear to every holiday event between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I’m talking, daytime events too, because really, is it ever too early for sparkles and shine? I think not.
Tradition that most closely approximates riding a subway car during rush hour: Browsing the holiday markets. Yes, the crowds are insane, but the goods are amazing, so it wouldn’t be a holiday season in New York without hitting up at least one or two. I’m particularly fond of the Grand Central vendor that sells keepsake boxes shaped like New York City landmarks. Did you hear that, whoever has me in the family Pollyanna?
Most unexpectedly lovely tradition: Going to see the holiday tree at the Met. While it may not be the first thing people think when they hear the phrase “holiday tradition,” there’s something about visiting the Met when the weather is cold and the Upper East Side is all lit up with decorations that feels—I don’t know, festive. Warm. Cozy. And classic, I guess. Perhaps not surprisingly, the tree is big and beautiful and looks like a piece of art just as much as any other piece in the museum. While I’m there, I usually swing by the Impressionist wing as well, because it also feels oddly festive this time of year.
All of these traditions are wonderful, but I have to say my favorite holiday tradition is one that has nothing to do with New York, and that’s because it’s one that I do with my family back in New Jersey. Every Christmas Eve, my siblings and I collect at our childhood home. We put my mother’s Harry Belafonte Christmas tape in the cassette deck—yes, cassette deck—and spend the afternoon decorating the tree. Then we head over to our neighbors’, where they serve many rounds of a specialty holiday cocktail planned just for the occasion. At some point in the evening we start to get silly. Gifts are exchanged. My youngest sister does a “creative” job of hanging the family stockings when we get home. And at least a handful of people wake up the next morning feeling less than stellar and vowing “never to do that again.”
Yet, we always do. Because that’s what traditions are for.
Happy holidays everyone, and whatever your holiday traditions may be, I hope you get to do them with the people you love.
What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Share with us in the comments below!
By: Reagan Daly