New York Holiday

New York Holiday

For many, the holiday season is a time of parties, togetherness, gifts and good cheer. But for some, it is a time of loneliness and despair. Recent disasters and senseless violence threaten to overshadow all that is good in our holiday celebrations. Is it best to let grief silence our joy, or can we, in our joy, lighten the load of those who grieve?
I say let’s celebrate the good things we have and use our blessings to help those who aren’t as fortunate.
I was thinking, after superstorm Sandy hit and shut off the lights of New York, how central that city has become in the American tradition of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. The parades, the tree lightings, the big New Year’s ball drop that everyone stays awake to watch. I love living in the countryside, but I would love, love, love to spend the holidays in New York one day.
As I was thinking that, it occurred to me that we who live in the remotest corners of America can help keep those lights shining by throwing a New York themed New Year’s party and using it to raise funds for victims of Sandy.
How to do so? Think of all the things New York has to offer around the holidays and bring a bit of that into your home, invite all your friends, and in the invitation include a call to donations to the Red Cross disaster relief fund.
Here are some ideas I incorporated into our New York themed party to get your gears turning. First, the theme we stressed in the invitations was “black, white, and sparkly” (nothing screams glamor more than that). Our home decor followed that theme:

Ice Skating in Central Park

holiday on ice

Holiday on Ice

This art piece was created to represent ice skating in Central Park. I took a gilded frame, wrapped it in tin foil and brushed it with black poster paint to add an aged patina. The “ice” was created with old CDs pressed to the wall with reusable wall adhesive (the blue stick). The rest—a scarf, gloves, and ice skates—were mounted with tacks, nails, and double-sided tape. The result is a whimsical, abstract ice-skating display.

New York City Skyline

To really get into the New York City theme, I wanted to create a skyline of buildings lit-up from the inside. The original idea was to build a three-dimensional skyline out of poster board, cut out all the windows, mount it a couple inches away from the wall and add string lights behind the whole “city.” Well, things didn’t work out as planned, and I ended up with a flush-mounted abstract city skyline and one “Empire State building” in 3-D with lights behind it. It took much less time to do but still had the desired effect. You can watch the video of the making of New York in our dining room:

Black and White Chandeliers

black hanger chandelier

DIY Hanger Chandelier

15 minute chandelier

15 Minute Chandelier

I’ve already posted tutorials on the chandeliers created for this party. One was made with black clothes hangers from Macy’s (how appropriate!), and the other with wire mesh, printed paper, and silver ornaments. Click on the picture to go to the tutorial for that chandelier.

What to Wear

model in black and white

courtesy: Petr Kratochvil

Finally, as I said in the intro, we specified a dress code of black, white, and sparkly for our Holiday in New York party.
I’m not a fan of spending a lot of money on clothes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like fashion. You can find great fashion at a thrift store and turn it into the perfect tailored piece of your dreams. For our party, I wore “the little black dress” dressed up with Audrey Hepburn style black gloves, a rhinestone necklace, and black shoes. You can check out how I took a thrift store dress and made it fit. (No, that’s not me in the photo)

For more ideas to incorporate into your New York themed party, look at sites on “things to do in New York” and borrow from them. There are shows, restaurants, events and landmarks to help you capture the glamour of New York during the holidays.

How to Help Victims of Sandy

Snowflake 2When you issue an invitation, include information on how to contribute to funds to help victims of hurricane Sandy. I should caution readers that at this time of year—particularly given the recent disasters and violent shootings—there are plenty of fund-raising scams that will gladly take your money. I would stick to the well-known relief organizations, in particular the Red Cross. There are three ways to donate to the Red Cross relief fund for victims of Sandy:

  • Call (818) 827-5123 and donate over the phone
  • Text “RED CROSS” to 90999 to donate $10
  • Give online at
  • If you live outside of the United States or would like to donate to disasters in other countries, research the country you’re interested in for “Red Cross donations.” In Brazil you can go here to donate.

    You may copy and use the donate button above if you wish. Also, to help you create a stunning black and white invitation, you can access my collection of free holiday images by registering for DIY updates in the right sidebar before January 1.

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