Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Dining "Out"

The days and weeks that surround the most special holidays of the year give us all an opportunity to take some time to enjoy the blessings received in the days and weeks before and after the beginning of a new year. Now is that time.

A perfect retreat from all the hustle and bustle of Christmas is a quiet alcove table inside a warmly lit restaurant. Most anyplace will do if you are so inclined. If you expect a little more you can expect to pay a little more too. The holidays bring out the revelers and the holidays bring out the hawks too.

My experience inside the hallowed halls of dining establishments big and small, east and west gave me some insight into what you can expect once you mosey up to the bar to wait for a table. No matter how well prepared for some peace and quiet relaxation during a busy holiday season, you can be sure that this trip out to eat will probably cost more now than it would in January. The laws of supply and demand get skewed and for good reason.

Almost 60% of a restaurants revenue pours in During November and December. The reason for this influx of cash is because of the reasons I spoke of earlier. We all need to get out and enjoy our blessings. The establishment knows exactly what you want and how much you don't care about paying some more. The only thing you should be aware of is that as the bill gets bigger the flaws become bigger too.

A perfect example of good food gone bad is the establishment that is privately owned, high priced and hard to get into. Here is where the most common errors are created to benefit the house. I know you didn't expect to be entering a casino to enjoy a great holiday meal but be aware that may be the case. Some may win but many will lose too.

A common error is to run out of that $95 bottle of wine after four bottles. Some how they continue to pour; like Jesus and the fishes. Think what you like but the industry is rife with possible errors. I just tell you about what I might have or might not have seen before.

Another error is portions. Look at the portions before the event and during the event. Many event planners have associates who have only one responsibility; to make sure the food and beverage is what it is supposed to be. The prices you're paying will be higher by 4 or 5%, make sure you get what you pay for.

Back to the alcohol. So much money is lost by corporate and private diners during the holiday season due to mislabeled or over-reported bar tabs that a small countries could live for a year. Make sure, have spies and don't get drunk.

So the place you could lose is obvious. You lose by not paying attention or by not caring. I know a few restaurateurs who can recognize both easily.

The better qualities of eating out during the holidays are as advertised. You can sit back and relax and enjoy the ambience around you while the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers scurry around the warmed brick, Oak or Stucco walls of the restaurant you're in tonight.

Sit and relax with friends. When you do you can get more than you paid for too!

Call ahead and then come to the restaurant in person. Find someone who will be working that evening and inform them that your party will be present and anything they could do to make you meal memorable would be appreciated.

I tip even before the meal sometimes to get the best services wherever I eat.

Call back again before the gathering and prompt the restaurant to give more. Most places will accommodate the squeaky wheel because so few wheels squeak these days. Know what you would get regularly and then reward the workers and the establishment whenever effort is given to make your meal special.

Tomorrow I will continue with my remembrances of busy holiday schedules where the staff made thousands of dollars a night. The reason why was obvious; the people like to party during the holidays.

Monday, December 20, 2010

If Christmas is your Birthday

I joke with my wife every time the conversation comes up. "Do you remember when the doctor told us Sean was going to be born on Christmas?"

I don't have to think for long because it is something that poises on my consciousness all the time; all year long. If the conversation or thought comes up I know where the file is and I retrieve it quite fast. The memory that my son was born on Christmas is something I would never had thought of before the moment I found out.

There's some self indulgent comedy or self-praise in the telling of the story. You see, when we were with the Obstetrician for our visit to confirm our pregnancy a question was posed to Mrs. Walsh.

"When was your last cycle Mrs. Walsh?"

I cringed at the question as I usually do when confronted with obviously private questions of innards. But as the pause stretched into an obvious faux paux I found the courage to compete to the answer.

"March 21st." I blurted out and cupped my mouth as soon as the date escaped my mouth.

"I mean.." "right, honey?"

"It was somewhere in there.." "The 21st."

I don't remember how long it took for our Dr. to tell us but I remember it wasn't long. Like the time it takes to look down at what your writing as you write a date and then look up to spill the beans.

"You're going to have a Christmas baby." and we're now officially doomed... Poor Sean.

Tomorrow I'm going to finish this tale, tell you about his birthdays and then think up a plan once and for all for the Birthday boy or girl born on Christmas.

Francis Walsh
Houston Banquet Planner.com

Friday, December 17, 2010

Decorating for the Holidays

This year we have something special to be thankful for; our first home. This year our blessings were many and as the holidays arrive we are sharing more of ourselves with others inside and out of our new home.
Decorating for the holidays is up to you and your family traditions. Ours has always included warm highlights made inside and out; even when our house was much smaller. Now that our space has grown our ideas about decorating have changed as well. Our favorite decorating ideas come from tradition and knowing how to bring it all together is key to making spirits bright this Christmas season.

Christmas decorating was once not so much about decorating a space as it was a time of reverence to those who had come before and those who would come after. Before the celebration was holy is was holy. The observers of Christmas past decorated with reverence to the environment and some of those traditions still hold true today.

Our holiday presents, spirits and bows are spread among the green boughs of fir and pine. Garland hangs around the corner of our warm fire. The banisters that children will look through to catch a glimpse of ole St. Nick have them too.

We share in these traditions and in our home our decorations show the appreciation we have in the past and the future.

Our hallways have garlands strung over the doorways and more leading guests through the foyer and into the great room. Garlands can be freshly picked in the North East. Look for light green vines that run in great distances over the ground and under the fallen leaves of New England.

Imitation garlands can be purchased for reasonable prices at JC Penny and of course our favorite dollar stores. Getting to the stores first is sometimes key to getting as much of the green stuff as you need. Buy the garland in bulk and decorate later with Holly and berries of crimson.

Windows are great places to hang wreaths made of garland or fir. The choice for us was to hang them inside of the house instead of outside. The fresh pine aroma leaves our house smelling of the forest long after the cherry pie has cooled on the rack. Ribbons of red and bows and balls can be hung from a great window wreath and the theme can move from one window to the next; making the design complete.

Fireplace decorations can include wicker boxes filled with pine boughs and pine cones dusted with glitter. Silver glitter and glue dabbed on the tips of each cones arms make them shimmer against a fire of warm lighting.

Decorate with lights for the holidays. Christmas lights come in every color of the rainbow and then some. White lighting inside the home brightens up corners when the main lighting is dim. White lights around picture frames and mirrors give each design element a new feel. Holiday decorating yourself is easy when you combine a few elements into a cohesive design.

Fill a fresh tree with hanging decorations and lights that match the rest of the traditional fresh-cut design. Tip your hat to your neighbors and invite them over for some friendship this year. Be inspired enough to inspire others.

Let your inspiration come from your tradition and revere the season with your decorating effort. Enjoy the rewards of gathering friends and family together during the best season of the year. Use these tips throughout the house and make your spirit bright this year.

Thank you to 1800flowers on YouTube for this video:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Best Holiday of the Year

Everyone has their favorite piece of pie or person. Those things that make us feel warm and fuzzy inside are things we gravitate toward; feelings of comfort. This month we get to enjoy the best holidays of the year. According to research, Christmas is the most loved holiday of the world. More people celebrate a Christmas celebration than any other. Having the spirit of Christmas takes on a whole new meaning when spirituality must share space with a celebration of the season. Christmas is loved by all because it is a holiday of giving. He who gives shall receive and that's what makes Christmas so great.

Don't Forget about Giving

The Salvation Army will be there for you to give to if you choose. The worthy cause of salvation and the army that produces it can surely be the recipient of your offerings but then there are those who may need you more than you know. Family and friends who struggle could be recognized and rewarded for their good deeds. Taking care of those around you is just as good a place to take your donation of time, love or money. Don't forget about giving to those who you really love and could use your offer.

Don't forget about God

I cannot say that my God is your God but if I know you then I probably know who you look to as God. So, with that said I should recommend that this time of year be spread with plenty of reverence and gratitude to those who made it all happen. In my case my God listens to me on a regular basis. When times are good he hears from me less often but the problems I bring are pretty much the same. If you believe Jesus was born on Christmas and was resurrected from the dead or if you believe another religion which I know less of than my own Roman Catholic teachings, then I should wish that you find time to grow closer to your God. It only reaffirms who you are to yourself and from a solid foundation great things can be accomplished with the help of spiritual hope. I hope that you get a chance to spend some time with your God this time of year.

Forget About Yourself for One Moment

I must say that at times it is hard to think about anything else but me. Now would be a good time to think about that struggle. The struggle of self and success. The struggle of making worth from an otherwise worthless situation. I came into the world free and I'll be going out free. Everything else in the middle costs.

From the moment I looked away from myself I began to see the world like I had never seen it before.

I wish you would request a connection on facebook so you can read more even after the holiday.

Thanks to FreddeTI on YouTube for this Tom Lehrer classic video: