Admit it- you may have done a little (or a lot) of holiday partying this past season. Whether your indulgence was that 5th cocktail party (you know, the one with little crab cake hors d’oeurves), the school pageant and luncheon, the work dinner at the red-sauce Italian place your boss loves, or the Radio City Christmas show followed-up with the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery- the aftermath is not pretty!
Your pants are too tight (no, they didn’t shrink), there are gifts to return, and winter has morphed from a charming first flurries to a mess of cold, wind, and slush. It’s no wonder that incidences of depression increase over the winter. With sunlight-shortened days huddled indoors, this is NOT always the “most wonderful time of the year!”
Not to fear, dear readers, there is hope. While the days seem short on sunlight, the “darkest” day (December 21st) is behind us, and there’s always a quick trip to the Sunshine State (or your favorite Caribbean isle) or a weekend at your favorite ski destination to cure the winter blues. Closer to home, try one of FO40’s Eight-Step Winter Survival Tips. Memorial Day will be here soon enough.
- Get off the couch. Just like the number of runner’s spikes after the NYC marathon (“next year I’m in!!”), many people make a New Year’s resolution to exercise more. By about the 3rd week of January most lie back down until this thought goes away. DON’T. GIVE. UP. Yes- it takes effort to go to the gym, but there are so many new methods to try so that your routine doesn’t become boring. (Check out my piece where I review 5 great workouts). Even if you just can’t leave your 75-degree apartment, there are great workouts on DVD or online that you can check out. I love the Tracy Anderson Abs video as well as my friend Danielle Diamond’s Yoga with Weights (go to her site for a free video!) Also check out Tracy Anderson Streaming, which features many workout styles from which to choose (barre, ballet, yoga, dancing). That special someone still owe you a gift? Consider investing in a Peloton Bike, which is essentially an at-home recreation of a rigorous cycling class ala Soul Cycle or Flywheel that you can “take” solo or with an on-line group. People have been known to be in the same class as Oprah Winfrey (Go Oprah!). A few of the guys in my that office recently bought bikes are shedding pounds (keep riding, a few more to go!)
- Make Reservations. December is NYC’s time to shine- and time to be crowded, chaotic, and impossible to navigate. Even the “5:30 or 10PM” tables at your favorite restaurants aren’t available and it seems Uber is on permanent 3x surge-charge. January and February are calmer. No more huddling masses at Radio City or the Rock Center tree, and that hot new brasserie suddenly HAS open tables on OpenTable. Some picks: Augustine at the Beekman Hotel (call exactly 30 days in advance); grab a drink and hang out (less than 2 hours!) for a seat at the ultra-hip Sugar Fish; the new, 2nd edition of Greek standard Avra on East 60th is an instant hot spot; or a lusty Italian favorite like Rubirosa or Carbone (Try Resy and Reserve respectively).
- The Big Screen. With so much great binge-watching available at home, there’s still something special about going to the “movies”. Many a cold Saturday night you can find Dave and I at The Angelika, Union Square, or Kips Bay theaters. Pick your show and seats on your Fandango app, get dressed in your warmest but chicest attire, and get lost in the plot for 2 hours (after the 25 minutes of commercials and previews). Professional New Yorker that you are, after the final credits go grab two seats at the bar of your local go-to restaurant and have dinner and your favorite Pinot served by your favorite mixologist.
- Get Outta Here! Whether by plane, train, or automobile, getting away- anywhere- can do a lot to refresh, reset, and re-invigorate oneself after the decorations are back in the storage closet. A few of my favorites include: The Hamptons (no bumper-to-bumper on Rte. 27, and most of the great restaurants and shops stay open); a ski weekend in Vermont; a splurge to the Mayflower Inn in CT or The Point at Saranac Lake; or cash in some hard-earned frequent flyer points for a visit to Miami hotspots The W or the new Faena, Mont Tremblant in Quebec, or Blackberry Farm in Tennessee.
- (fa-la-la-la) SPA. What better way to spend a cold winter’s day (or night) than in a plush robe, on a heated bed, and under the treatment of a skilled masseuse? There are many outstanding spas around the city that will leave you relaxed and refreshed. I love the Red Door Spa on 5th Avenue, and there some great hotel spas also worth checking out. The Peninsula, (president-elect) Soho, Mandarin, and Surrey are among these great options- all sumptuous and sure to create some soothing Zen. With a well-timed call to the hotel front desk, consider booking a room and spending the night. Snow, sleet, and ice can wait until tomorrow.
The Spa at the Surrey and the Red Door Spa 5th Avenue
- Cold Weather Dinner Party. Winter is the season for hot and hearty meals. Set your slow cooker on its lowest setting and simmer a flavorful pot of your secret-recipe chili or short ribs over the course of the day. Invite a few couples over, pair the one-pot wonder with a bold Cab or stout ale and a side of yellow rice (chili) or perhaps butternut squash risotto (oh husband?!?!?), and light the fireplace. As always, take a few minutes before your ravenous guests arrive to put together a memorable table top. For added belly laughs, try a few rounds of the card game TableTopics– or for the more risqué crowd, Cards Against Humanity. A nice dessert wine or port should ensure a smooth glide into midnight.
- Summer! Remember summer? Hot beach days, BBQs, sunlight until 9pm? While it may feel like that glorious season may never, ever come again, now is a great time to plan your summer vacation. I LOVE knowing I have a trip on the forward calendar. You’ll likely have a great selection of destination and flight options, striking before the last-minute crowd scrambles for airline seats that mysteriously go on frequent-flyer black-out. Get ahead of this chaos, plan now- and enjoy later, Note: The dollar is very strong right now, making a trip to Europe/UK very attractive for Americans.
- Hulu Hibernate–You know the term Netflix & Chill? Well, order your favorite take-in from the Seamless app, pour a generous glass of wine, and watch one of those shows you’ve been dying to watch but never seem to have the time – The Affair, House of Cards, The Crown anyone? Download the entire Bourne movie set, or that Star Wars Episode 2 you never saw. Hunker down, put on some sweats, and leave the iPhone charging in the other room. Happy viewing.