019: Christmas Cheer

by howmanybeards

It’s here, the long hard final push to the holidays. One more weekend of last minute holiday parties followed immediately by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For me this mean a gluttony of spending time with family and friends, wantonly eating everything that comes in front of you, and consuming booze in copious and varied quantities. So How Many Beards is here to give you a few tips on how successfully navigate the coming gauntlet that doesn’t end until you’re nursing black coffee, nibbling a toast and honey, and watching Mean Girls while moaning on the couch on January 1st.



The Soundtrack.


Seems that starting on Black Friday it’s full force on the Christmas Music. This invariably results in an general societal exhaustion towards Christmas music by this point in the month. So here’s a quick suggestion. First, leverage the power of Pandora. but the key is to work a couple good stations of regular music ahead of time (for me it’s Brand New, Bon Iver, and Miles Davis) and then a couple holiday stations as well ( Bing Crosby White Christmas, Classical Christmas, Indie Christmas) and then put them on shuffle. This creates a nice balance of the holiday music you want to hear but has it broken up by more traditional everyday stuff. I recommend listening to the holiday stations a little bit before hand so you can veto any of those holiday songs you truly dislike.

The Booze, Part 1: The Exoneration.

Are you going to someone else’s house that is not your immediate family? Bring a gift, preferably booze. Most likely you’ll bring a bottle of wine. A bit of wisdom, unless you know something specific that your host likes I recommend bringing them something that you like. Look at is as an opportunity to share your favorite with someone else and will hopefully be something they come to like as well.

The Booze, Part 2: The Quickening.

Having guests over? Let me recommend leveraging the holiday festivities to help revive an old tradition: punch. Most often more potent than most mixed drinks or beer and with quite a bit more flavor. Here are two of my favorite recipies:

Bourbon Punch with Grapefruit and Mint:

+ 1/3 cup water
+ 1/3 cup sugar 
+ 15 fresh mint sprigs
+ 4 cups strained, fresh grapefruit juice
+ 2 1/2 cups bourbon
+ 12 dashes angostura bitters
+ 1 cup club soda

1. Stir water and sugar in saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat, bringing to a boil and crumple in five mint sprigs. Remove from heat and let syrup cool.
2. Strain syrup into punch bowl. Add juice, bourbon and bitters; mix in soda and remaining mint. Add ice to bowl and start ladling.

If those don’t catch your fancy, here are a few more. But remember, no ice cubes, only ice blocks.

The Attire.

It’s the holidays! Wear something fun! Ready to try that bow tie? Do it. Got a festive sweater you’ve been nervous to wear in public? Put it on. Looking to add some color? Red, green, forest, and burgundy are excellent for the season. Want to Suit Up? Then Suit Up. Just want to wear jeans and a t-shirt? Well, OK.

The Entertainment.

While much of this time will be spent commiseration with friends and family about the year past and the year ahead, there’s no reason not to through a little casual entertainment into the mix. Having a small gathering? Pull out a couple new age games like Settlers Of Catan, Apples to Apples, or if you can get your hands on it, the much coveted Cards Against Humanity. A bunch of people coming over? Pop in a couple holiday comedies. I recommend Christmas Vacation and Bad Santa. Spending a romantic evening with a special someone? If you’re looking to really amp up the emotions in the room either go for a classic like It’s A Wonderful Life or something newer such as The Family Stone.

The Spirit.

This is no time to be a Grinch, or a Scrooge, or worst of all a Grinchy Scrooge. This is a time to come together with those you care most about. Keep the griping to a minimum and try to enjoy it.