The Divalicious Do’s & Don’ts of the Party

You found the perfect dress, sweet stilettos, and accessories to die for and are ready to whoop it up and bring in the New Year. One small detail…will you be a proper, fun party girl or will you plummet due to bad behavior for Girls Gone Wild? Hopefully, you went with choice A.
But we’ll get to that. (grin)
It is the best part of the year – multiple invitations, lots of people, foodie heaven, bountiful beverages, and more music than a karaoke booth. Yet, you were left wondering with suspicion if you maybe said the wrong thing about company policies to your husband’s boss, overindulged in the cocktail shrimp, got champagne spilled or just sweat through your new Nordy dress from nerves, and did you lose your Chinese Laundry ruby heel at the party OR in the Suwanee Towne Center fountain? If these scenarios sound hilarious, or even somewhat true, I have some news & advice for you. We all have googled Emily Post and still have our Mama’s voice ‘yelling’ during those slippery slope moments, but ever just wanted some direction to get through the next neighborhood party, birthday bash, banquet, or intimate, dinner party.

Welcome to the Divalicious Do’s & Don’ts of the Party!

Rule 1: dress for success, not the fatal fashion fail.
There is that sublime moment when you see the perfect outfit in the store just waiting and screaming to be yours. And in your flight of flurried happiness, you buy & set out to don that sparkly, tight, and short confection for the nonprofit benefit to make a statement. But what statement IS that? An Outfit to Remember, or an Affair to Forget? Trust me, Cary Grant is not going to rescue you from a mistake, but your colleagues and complete strangers will remember you and your new reputation if you fashion fail. Now, we all can’t travel with a personal stylist or even have a friend there in the dressing room, but a few quick checklist cues can save you from being the Belle of the Ball they coo over at the fundraiser, instead of the unfortunate Sad Soul they gossip about in the ladies lounge.

    Step 1:

If you think it is too short, brassy, or loud – it probably is. Sorry girl, save the mini for the club or the 80’s Throwback, and the lime green taffeta whipped cream pouf wannabe for the Bridesmaids Ball. Go with classic lines, comfortable fit, and err on the side of conservative instead of seeking the wrong “wow.” If you have an eclectic style or the situation calls for loud and “notice me” go for it, but don’t take this moment to stake reputation instead of a win. Bring a good friend to the dressing room who will be honest. Trust me on this. I have seen the fashion victim. And heard about them. Still. And the party was a year ago. Exactly.

    Step 2:

Shop before the event, not day of event. C’mon the true, good event invite hit your inbox a little over 4 weeks ago and the day before or worse, day of, you are running around like a cartoon character ready to be hit in the head with an anvil. Make the time to find the right look and price instead of risking life, limb, and paycheck for the wrong time management, wrong fit, and depleted budget. You might even get it on sale. Tis goes for the new shoes. Buy early, break in, and wear. Don’t wait to trip down the stairs or worse trip up blisters or sore feet. There are a few exceptions of having to “fill in” at an event so prep your closet (and sanity) with a few go-to outfits to make a splash, not drown.

    Step 3:

Shine, Shimmer & Toss. Make sure you walk out with a glow, not a bare-faced shine. Make-up, powder, or a good base are essential. I know some of you have perfect skin, lucky ducks, but for the average Jane a little powder never hurt anyone. Hate make-up? Ask the friend or colleague who looks flawless for advice & application help. Big event or formal? Budget for professional application or phones friend. Go for goddess, not clown auditions. Same for hair- frizz & roots suck. Make time for a salon blow-out or get help from a good soul who can style you right so you aren’t stressing from a bad crimp or curling iron debacle. Shimmer your style and make sure you make a fun statement- treat yourself to a good gloss or highlights. And like Step 2, please do not wait until day of to try the touted Tahitian Red. The only red may be your face & blood pressure if it goes awry. How do I know these words of wisdom? Well, back in the day I either experienced small symptoms or heard confessions of experienced divas who gave warnings. Take it and dazzle ’em.

Rule 2: party people, not politics…you never know WHO is listening
Short and simple: if you won’t say it to your grandmother, boss, elder or child because you respect and don’t wish to offend, keep it to yourself. They say politics, religion, and other controversial topics are off-limits for social settings. Not exactly, as some people can be objective and present solid cocktail conversation. However, for the average partygoer it is a good rule to leave the hot controversy at home or in trusted company. Take this example, I attended a large business networking event where a loud and opinionated individual (we’ll call him/her “Brash Buddy” decided to make a few choice judgements and statements about a recent gossip train about a well-known leader. Here is the thing about being “well-known”…somebody knows them. And in this Gwinnett world- it is so BIG, it can easily be forgotten how SMALL and connected people are. This is true in so many places though- really. Suffice to say for the Brash Buddy, the leader’s cousin and high-school best friend were there and several invites got lost for our Brash Buddy in the future. Stick to good conversation and be knowledgeable, not all-knowing. Find a movie, book, obscure fact, or bit of history to start conversation. Avoid what you read on your smartphone Facebook status updater or Twitter feed and focus on what you want people to repeat about your topic of interest, not repeating what you said about someone else. Remember, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all. Because truly, you never know who is listening or sharing what YOU will say.

Rule 3: bountiful buffets, beverages, and socialization
There it is. A dazzling oasis of goodie sweet, savory and divine. But hold it there, cowgirl. This is not the Chuck Wagon or Old Country Buffet. Besides the stretch pants do not match the new sparkle tank you have on tonight. Good advice: snack on a healthy treat or even a small meal BEFORE you arrive. Not just for nutrition – because most of that deep fried fried appetizer tray is not low sodium or low cal. And most will leave you feeling blah & yucky after gorging. Keep in mind, most of these events are for socializing not standing at a feeding trough. Dinner parties, cooking events, and “Taste of” events have leniency but go for social, not stuff your face. Cocktails – yes or no? I tend to go with no. Not because I can’t hold my intake but because it isn’t anyone’s business nor my desire to put it on display. The good time party girl who stumbles, laughs too loud, brings obnoxious to a new level, and is not without liquid courage is not my hero. In most social situations, you are there to socialize. This is not the opportunity to get obliterated like you did years ago at the keg party, or even the tailgate last weekend. You know who you are. For those “good time groups,” word of advice: I am staring because I pity your behavior, not because I thought shots at the company holiday party were a stellar idea. Because it isn’t. Ever. Some may disagree, but 99% of the time alcohol causes what one of my diva friends causes “red flags waving & burning in your peripheral view.” Save the alcoholic haze, if you must, for a trusted social setting. A glass of wine of beverage in moderation is ok, don’t slam them down. And, please leave the champagne sloshing teenage stupidity on the dance floor a distant memory.
Ah, dancing. Some of us are lucky to have live music or provided music to shimmy & shake. Do yourself a favor and consider a few beginner dance lessons for you & your honey. Walton Boy suggested them last summer and now both of us may not be the next Fred & Ginger, or Dancing with the Stars, but we can hold our own and the confidence is awesome. If lessons are too much, go use that handy google search to find online steps or YouTube posting. Some are useful and worthwhile. Thank you technology. But once on the floor- please remember that Patrick Swayze and Latin Lenny are not with you. Leave the inappropriate and/or dirty dancing for a private setting. Translation: not in front of the whole party at the fundraiser. Also, rapping, hip-hop moves, and break-dancing are fun on a dare or “pre-determined activity” for a skit but otherwise, just no.

So slide on those cute shoes, fabulous dress and grab your honey to party in the New Year and use this moment to reflect on the faux pas, and make resolutions for being the Perfect Party Guest. You will love 2012 and so will your future hosts and hostesses when you are the unforgettable guest for the RIGHT reasons. Start the Countdown, baby!

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Gwinnett Girl 101

Hello, it’s 5am and I am finally doing this. After a year of posting on social media airwaves, we’re going to get down & detailed (and a little more personal). This is following lots of advice, encouragement, and downright guilty pleasure from awesome friends, colleagues, my well-intentioned parental units up in Michigan & one Walton Boy(more about him later) to “Just write it already!!” After all, I am the Gwinnett Girl.

Well, I could say how fabulously busy I have been, or that timing & web analysis had to be just right…but I can’t lie. It shows all over my face, trust me on this one, so truth is I was totally scared. Yup, fabu me with the good advice, the where to go, what to do, & who to know got a good case of the scaredy cat flu and spent a year – oh yeah, one pathetic LONG year hiding, starting & stopping blog entries, bugging friends for validation, & gifting myself a big old non-returnable complex that it wasn’t “good enough”…yet. Then this week it hit me. Somewhere around Sugarloaf Parkway & Satellite, I looked up and saw the lightbulb. (Not a cell tower or lights from NCR – a real A-HA moment) One of my biggest appeals isn’t just the advice, but who was behind Gwinnett Girl. the girl. Promise this is not one big self-serving dose of ego but really, why not SHARE amidst the stellar “Guide to Gwinnett,” a little more about who drives this weird pink & sometimes purple & green Cadillac of Divalicious. Some info on this Little (BIG) County I have grown to love in 4 awesome years.

I came up with “Gwinnett Girl” around 2009 and in what is now typical fashion, launched the “brand” via social media officially in 2010 in November. My real birthday month was a blur as I launched the logo, the fun, the party, Facebook page and a cool Twitter feed and began the dream to create the “Who’s Who, What’s What, and Why we love Gwinnett.” And it stuck. There are about 700 listeners & understanding fans out there who seem to think I have something good. (gee, no wonder I freaked out as a complex people pleaser) From the first day good friends dubbed me “GG” (thank you Sparkle Goddess, Earth Mama, StilettoMama, GwinnettBigSis and several other assorted Gwinnett Superheroes) I now spend my “free time” (for those who know me, stop laughing) posting about good things to do, where to go, & support of local businesses, events, people, and other sage advice because I decided one fine day that I was growing weary of hearing people say, “There is NOTHING to do, see, go, be, have fun in Gwinnett.” So.NOT.True. I tell people (and lucky you) when I moved here from a “Northern City of Brotherly Love” in 2007 1) never stepping foot in Atlanta, especially Gwinnett County for that matter; 2) knowing NOBODY and 3) “falling madly in love” with this crazy place, which took a hold of my heart and never let go. Fast forward to 2011 – am a little more than “connected” in Gwinnett and still residing as one of the biggest advocates and self-appointed cheerleader for this 800k plus melting pot extravaganza place I call home. So, I started the Facebook page and continued tweeting (@GwinnettGirl) and the fan base grew, and I started to get called on by people I expected to catch on and others who blew me out of the park. Encountered challenges, but made them opportunities – and gained advice from some awesome social media gurus on how to wrap my arms around this thing. Also, had distractions – good and unexpected but as many distractions do knock you in the head, necessary. I changed jobs, started writing again, adjusted some work/life balance & commitments, and met a guy- you will get to know him online as Walton Boy – who helped prod me along on this weird project despite my own internal self-conscious doubts.

But who am I? Well, I am an only child who is a former introvert turned extrovert (seriously – ask my friends in middle & high school), love eating banana peppers out of the jar, addicted to words & writing (hello, college English major), social media-savvy goddess, have a guilty love of scavenger hunts, skee-ball, stilettos (cute & functional, as I am 5’2), and using fabulous means to make the world über DIVALICIOUS (my “signature” term for something so ultimately cool you can’t resist it & must combust into spontaneous SQUEES of joy & rapture) Exactly. Some may find this too cutesy, or girly, or utterly mindless. Well, it’s me and although I am serious, stately, & refined – I save that for my day job and important GG professional matters but online, it fits me just fine. There is more.

For instance, why I love donning sparkly accessories or putting my best fashion foot forward while wearing my fave pair of yoga pants. Or those super suggestions to get networked or connected and survive another benefit, event, celebration, festival with panache. Or the “Gwinnett Gems” discovered in local shops, events, history, super fun locations, foodie/social media addictions and more. Or, how I wake up every day to save the world. (Truth serum: I really do)
But that is for another blog or two…I promise not to make you wait a year. In fact, I bet my “inner circle” of coaches and friends, who have finally come to after passing out with this published blog post, will now really light the fire under my stilettos. And I will write more.

Ready for this? Let’s go!