They may be your Christmas custom, but those reindeer pajamas probably aren't doing much for your love life. Traditional holiday clothing — and, while we're at it, food, decorations and gifts — clearly were not designed with romance in mind.
But it's possible to get in the spirit with style, and who better to talk Christmas chic than three New York City women who specialize in all things fabulous?
Shakara Bridgers, Jeniece Isley and Joan A. Davis are the authors of The Get 'Em Girls' Guide to the Power of Cuisine: Perfect Recipes for Spicing Up Your Love Life and The Get 'Em Girls' Guide to the Perfect Get-Together, due out in May 2009. The women also run getemgirls.com, a cache of advice on food, family life, decorating and more.
Ladies, check out their ideas for holiday entertaining that will benefit your relationship, and what's not worth the effort.
Deck the halls. Your parents' house may be holiday central, but a few aptly chosen decorations will help your guy associate you with holiday cheer. Put a small Christmas tree in the window, drape a pine-scented garland around your curtain rod, light candles and spice up your furniture with new throw pillows. Instead of a floral centerpiece, opt for a vase of longer-lasting cranberries, apples, tangerines and walnuts.
Stick with comfort food. Goat cheese phyllo triangles and rack of lamb are fancy but unnecessary. Most men are satisfied with stick-to-the-ribs classics like roast chicken and baked macaroni and cheese. For an inexpensive, playful dessert, bake monkey bread — cinnamon and sugar biscuits that you pull apart. And guys go crazy for warm peach cobbler, Davis says.
Stretch the alcohol. White sangria is festive and helps a little wine go a long way.
Add music. "The playlist has to be on point. The music sets the tone for the evening," says Bridgers, who includes soul singer Donny Hathaway's This Christmas among her must-haves.
Get fashion and function. New York women know how to dress warm but cute. Find a cute scarf, and pair legwarmers with a pair of sexy heels. Knit hats are in, so buy — or better yet, make — one for you and your sweetie.
Go all out. We're not talking flat screens and Rolexes, just a really thoughtful gift. Isley's fiancee lost his mom at a young age, and he'd never seen a picture of her. So Isley spent six months canvassing his old neighborhood, tracked down a photo of his mother and had it turned into a canvas print. Now that's memorable.
Send love across the miles. If you and your honey are apart, mail him a gift every day for the 12 days of Christmas or eight days of Hanukkah, says Bridgers, who is in a long-distance relationship. Have an Edible Arrangement or take-out delivered to his door.
It's a wrap. "I don't just wrap a gift. I layer my gift," Davis says. To increase the anticipation, wrap your presents in papers as intriguing as the gifts themselves: 10 reasons why I want to be with you, 10 reasons why you should be with me, photos and interesting articles. "Ten layers down, there's the actual gift," Davis says.