Merry Christmas!

By now, Santa is chillin’ with Mrs. Claus for another 364 days
and you have probably been up for hours opening presents under the same roof as
all your closest family members. Don’t get us wrong, we love all this family
time and togetherness but it’s no secret that these holiday times are not all
It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34
th Street – things can get
pretty hectic.



Fear not, followers of the fourth floor, we’ve got you
covered. Turn off the fireplace channel,
gather round the hearth and pop on our top five Christmas tension busters. 


A Christmas Story

Home Alone

Elf

National Lampoon’s
Christmas Vacation

Charlie Brown
Christmas


Still gritting your teeth? Check out our honourable
mentions:

I’ll be Home for
Christmas

Trading Places

A Muppet Christmas
Carol

Photo Friday – holiday office parties

Slap on the lipstick and heels, gals, it’s time to party! With your boss. Stressed about the office holiday party? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a few simple dos and don’ts – happy Friday.


Do: Bust a move.





Don’t: pull an Elaine.
Do: Wear something special.





Don’t: Wear so little “something special”.


Do: Let loose.


Don’t: Overindulge. 






Do: Find yourself under the mistletoe.






Don’t: End up with a lawsuit.

As fun as it seems, you don’t actually want your office to be this Office.


Responsible office parties.


Even offices back then got a little friskier during the holidays.


Definitely don’t be this guy.

Rave: holiday playlist

Despite your stance on how early holiday music should be played in public (read various pieces about that here and here), you can’t deny that less than 1 week out, it’s now time. We’ve pulled together a not-so-obvious holiday playlist for your enjoyment. It includes some classics, some rare tracks, and healthy dose of Canadian musicians and some songs that you just gotta love despite the cheesiness. We’ll be playing this all day long on the fourth floor.

And for an added bonus: one of the best collaborations ever.

Enjoy!

Do Me A Solid: TOMS Give Shop

A few weeks ago, we were invited to check out a creative holiday pop-up shop that wasn’t all about sales, shopping or spending money. The TOMS Give Shop was instead about giving back to all of the people that have supported the charitable company since its inception. And with the recent, tragic news from Connecticut, we thought we’d share a positive story about helping children, especially at this time of year.



The Give Shop was held just a hop, skip and a jump away from our office, so we headed over after work one day to check it out. Inside, we found an adorable set-up of activities and information about the work that TOMS does, all themed in a spirit of the holidays.



There, you could have a photo taken with some amazing props (reindeer antlers, Santa aprons, ugly Christmas sweaters and more), which you’d then bring over to another station to make your very own snow globe.

Abby and Natalie.


Natalie makes a snow globe.



There was a spot where you could fill out a pledge – something that you planned to do more of or be better at in the new year, in exchange for a small gift from TOMS.

Write a pledge – and stick with it.



There were tasty drinks, cupcakes and spots to sit and read all about good stuff that’s happened with TOMS since the company began in 2006.

You know we love a good DIY cupcake.



You very likely know what the TOMS mandate is (in fact, we’ve mentioned it on here before), but here’s the background: founder Blake Mycoskie was travelling in Argentina when he noticed that many of the children he saw were barefoot. TOMS was born, with the basic premise that with every pair of shoes purchased, another would be given to a child who needed them. Within his first year, Myscoskie returned to Argentina with 10,000 pairs of shoes to distribute – a pretty healthy start.


Since then, TOMS has donated millions of pairs of shoes to children in more than 40 countries around the world.


They work with humanitarian organizations that have a long-term presence in the country they’re giving to, and don’t give once and leave. Since children grow out of shoes, they work to establish relationships that allow them to continue providing shoes to a community. They work with local businesses to make sure they’re not negatively impacted, and children who receive TOMS get them as part of a bigger health and educational program.



Most importantly, they’re pretty rigourous about ensuring that no children are involved in manufacturing their shoes, and hire third-party sources to verify that there is no child labour and everyone receives fair wages.


Fun fact: there is no Tom that inspired the name. It’s a shortened form of “Shoes for a Better Tomorrow”.


For more about how TOMS gives, check out their Giving Report. They also host the annual “One Day Without Shoes” event to raise awareness about their work, details of which are here. They’ve also recently launched the One for One Movement with eyewear, providing glasses for people in need.


All images courtesy of Rooftop Agency

Media, Darling: Tara Ballantyne

Tara Ballantyne joined Style at Home last February as its resident style and food editor. Tara began her
styling career in Norway and worked for publications like Norwegian ELLE and
French ELLE along with various other European publications. She has had
numerous television appearances on the Marilyn Denis Show, Breakfast Television
and CityLine.



photo credit: Transcontinental Media 

Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon? 
There are so many things you can do in a
lifetime, and I’m guilty of wanting to do anything to satisfy my creativity. My
schooling is in interior design and I worked in architecture for three years
before I switched to magazines. It was the best decision I have ever made and I
love what I get to do and how creative I can be each day at Style at Home.
Where
would you like to be five years from now?
In a studio with a totally inspired
photographer, great light, lots of beautiful food, great models and a hundred
baby bunnies shooting some wild Tim Walker-inspired images.
Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Don’t be afraid to sweep floors, pour endless
amounts of coffee, or even pick up someone else’s dry cleaning (seriously I had
to do this once). I’ve had to learn countless coffee orders by heart and had
design proposals ripped up right in front of my face. It can be a long road of
being humble, but you watch and learn and in the end, it’s completely worth it.
What
are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
Having spent so much time in Norway, I really
developed an affection for swedish RUM magazine, ELLE Norway and Sweden, and I
love emmas designblogg –
design and style from a scandinavian perspective
. I also adore Canadian blog Bijou and Boheme, and spend entirely too much time selecting fashion
ensembles from the The
Sartorialist
, that my husband and I
should definitely purchase. Fortunately, he is a kind and patient person who
politely nods and says “uh huh” while I involuntarily involve him
in selecting my favourite looks to wear on a vespa, and for braving the
cobblestone streets. 
Best
interview you’ve ever had?
My interview for ELLE Norwegian… it ended up
landing me my first cover, and I was so insanely excited to be part of the
magazine in another country – it was pretty amazing. There is always something
very special about your first.
Worst?
I’ve been super lucky so far, in that I’ve only ever had great interviews. Fingers crossed this continues!
Best
advice you’ve ever been given?
Avoid horizontal stripes and don’t eat a full
meal before you go swimming.
What
rule(s) do you live your life by?
If you truly love something, it’s worth
fighting for. And edit to clarity – fashion, interiors, your words…
What’s
the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Open and honest communication I guess. I’ve
worked with great PR people and I’ve always appreciated when they tell me what
I need to hear, not necessarily what I want to hear. Also I am always super
impressed when they remember names!
Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Being convinced that the $250 sweater I
bought for a television appearance was not a bad decision and in fact a
worthwhile investment piece for my wardrobe. Cashmere really is timeless, lol.
I
hate?
Subway delays.
I
love?
Butter tarts, and the way Instagram always
makes you instantly look amazing.
Reading?
International design books (magazines); I
love seeing what’s going on in other countries and get a lot of inspiration
from that. Right now I am also re-reading Rebecca for the second time, and am
guilty of choosing my knitting project over my half-finished copy of Infidel
Best
place on earth?
Any place where I’m surrounded by family and
friends, a great glass of wine, and good food and conversation.
Dinner
guest?
Brother and sister, Sibella Court
and Chris Court. I am so astounded with the creativity that they both exhibit
in the work they do with styling, development and photography. 
Hero?
Coco Chanel. 
Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Instagram, and that
new Christmas app that helps you with shopping and wrapping.
Pool
or ocean?
Definitely Ocean.
Voicemail
or email?
Definitely email.

Rave: Easy Holiday Gift Ideas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And
unfortunately for many, it’s also the most expensive.  Luckily, we thrifty ladies on the fourth floor have compiled this list of easy, inexpensive DIY gifts for the lucky ones
on your “nice” list.



Ed. note: We’ve got lots of DIY ideas this week, in the spirit of making things for your loved ones this holiday season (nothing says love like something homemade, amirite?). Stay tuned for how to stock a home bar and a super easy wine charm DIY!


Lace Earring Holder

Not only
is this piece easy to recreate and adorable, it’s also serves a very important
purpose. Your BFF will love it. Just get your hands on a vintage picture frame (think Goodwill or
Value Village), a piece of lace, and a staple gun.
1.     Cut the lace to fit your frame
(leave a little extra – better to have too much than too little.  You can cut the excess off later)
2.     Pull
the lace taut across the frame, being careful not to rip it.  While keeping the lace tight, staple from
side to side and in the corners
3.     After
it’s stapled tightly all the way around, hold your frame on its side and staple
down toward the edges of the frame. Do this all the way around the inside of
the frame. This makes the lace pop forward in the frame, so you can hang earrings easily.
4.     Cut
off any excess lace in the back, et voila! Might want to make one for youself, while you’re at it.

Big
Ball Pantyhose Necklace

We can thank our girl
Martha Stewart for this quirky gem.
All you need is a pair of sheer pantyhose, some scissors and a few colourful
rubber balls. Here’s what you do:

11.  Cut legs
off stockings. On one leg, tie a knot about six inches from toe. Place balls
inside stocking leg, one at a time, stretching stocking and tying a knot after
each. Repeat with second stocking leg.
22.  Knot legs
together end to end to create necklace.

Peppermint Sugar Scrub

This
homemade sugar scrub is a great, eco-friendly exfoliant that can be used on
your whole body, especially your dry winter hands and feet. Measure out three cups of white granulated sugar
, one cup of grapeseed oil
and peppermint oil. Mix the ingredients together, adding more
oil until you reach the desired consistency. Portion it out into mason jars, add a holiday gift tag and its ready to
rock. Note: You can use any essential oil to scent your scrub but we like
peppermint this time of year to put us in a festive mood.

Important tip: Don’t overthink it! Sometimes simple is best. Everyone
knows that the way to somebody’s heart is through their stomach. A cookie exchange is a great holiday party
idea and everyone leaves with a bevy of holiday treats ready to be gifted. Invite six to 10 of your closest creative bakers (not you, rice crispy square girl) and
have everyone bring a dozen of their best recipe for each of the guests (don’t
forget an extra batch for tasting at the party) and then swap. 

And
for your naughty list?

Nothing’but a classic lump of coal. 😉

Rave: Happy first Anniversary Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens!

It’s
been a whole year since Loblaw gave new life to the historic Maple Leaf
Gardens, and today the store is kicking off Food’s Greatest Celebration – a weekend
of can’t miss activities and contests. 


Photo credit: JJ Thompson/medianeeds.ca
Pretty ballet dancers 

After four days of construction, 1,000 tiles of gingerbread, 5,000 mini candy canes and 700 pounds of candy (!!), the 17-foot President’s Choice® Giant Holiday Gingerbread House was unveiled and all lit up in twinkling lights early this morning. Was it ever a sight to see…

Photo credit: JJ Thompson/medianeeds.ca

Santa Claus is spending the day greeting guests from the President’s Choice® Giant Holiday Gingerbread House. Been good this year? Starting today until the end of the holiday season, Santa and his elves will be on hand inside the gingerbread house every weekend, ready for photo ops and to get a sneak peek at what’s on your Christmas list.

The
Marty Oakes Trio starts off a weekend of live music today until 3 p.m., with the
Ryan Oliver Jazz Duo from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 1. The Mary Mac Duo wraps things up on Sunday, December 2 with a performance from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. With the soundtrack set, you’ll be ready to
take part in daily contests (like today’s pizza making challenge) led by top
food experts for your chance to win a ton of prizes.


Photo credit: JJ Thompson/medianeeds.ca

This lucky shopper was one of the first 400 customers through the
doors at 7 a.m. today – and won
$5,000 worth of Loblaws gift
cards!


You
know we can’t stay away from a celebration, and with this much to see, hear and
taste this weekend at the Loblaws Store at Maple Leaf Gardens – you know where to find us.  




#loblawscarlton1yr

*Reg’d TM. Lic’d use.



Rave: Holiday Dressing

So the start of the holiday season may still be a few weeks away
(Justin Bieber’s Christmas CD won’t be in rotation until December 1st. We’re counting down) but with
our busy schedules, and multiple holiday parties lined up, we’re already
planning our outfits (any excuse to wear metallic and sparkles!). Here are some
of our favourite looks for this holiday season.

Office party
If your holiday party is anything like ours, it starts off as a dinner but quickly becomes a dance party and sing-a-long. This Dallin Chase sequin dress will seamlessly take us from a tame dinner to the dance floor.

Buy it here.


Girls Christmas party
We want to be in the holiday spirit, but comfortable when
celebrating the holidays with our closest friends. These Fidelity Sheffield
Rose jeans fit the bill perfectly. Paired with a loose black blouse and pumps,
we’ll still be able to have an extra hors d’oeuvre (or two) and not have to worry
about exposing the inevitable food baby. 



Family Holiday Party
We LOVE this camilla and marc Great Fear Jacket to sport to
the family holiday party. The sleeves zip off – perfect for
hitting the town with cousins and siblings once the parents, aunts and
uncles have hit the hay after too much eggnog and spiced wine.



Boyfriend’s Family Holiday party
We want to look pretty, but classy for the boyfriend’s
holiday party. This PJK dress in maroon (the color of the season) is a perfect
feminine look for hanging with his g-ma & g-pa.



New Year’s Eve
The 3.1 Phillip Lim Sequin Collage Dress is the perfect
look for ringing in 2013. Crepe panels stand out on this sequinned shift dress that’s sure to 
start the year on the right foot. 





A holiday message for you


Happy holidays from all of us on the fourth floor! 
Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and fun holiday season.


xo
Debra and the team

From left to right, top row – Carly, Rachelle, Lara, Christina, Matt, Alana and Abby
Bottom row – Debra, Michelle and Lisa

Special Media, Darling post: Holidays

For the holiday season, we thought it would be fun to ask some of our previous Media, Darlings how they’ll be spending their holidays. Here are a few of the answers, we’ll post more next Thursday!
Nathalie Atkinson

 Nathalie and her sister.

What’s your favourite holiday tradition?

Personally, I love wrapping presents. I have a bit of a stationery and wrapping paper problem in that I amass a lot of the stuff, more than I can use. (Especially the individual printed paper sheets at DeSerres, when they go on sale.) I could be wrapping and wrapping and wrapping all year long – I find it really relaxing, sort of methodical and meditative. Slowing down and doing that is my favourite part of such a consumer season. I wrap everything that goes into every stocking, all my extended family’s presents to each other, but that’s still not enough, so now I even offer to do it for my friends and their gifts for other people. I’m not exactly Candy Spelling but our rec room is a temporary wrapping workshop right now. I should probably volunteer for the Salvation Army wrap station or something and get it out of my system.

Favourite store to receive a gift from?
In Toronto? My gourmand side says Good Egg in Kensington Market, hands down. There isn’t really anything in that store I don’t love. I cook a lot (see above) and for my birthday last week a very clever friend gave me a book called The Flavour Thesaurus from there; Mika has great taste and is a terrific buyer; I always find things I’ve never seen before, and her staff know their stuff and can help you find the perfect thing for everyone on your list. Whether they’re a foodster or not. It’s a whole lifestyle store.

In Texas? Anything from Specs, the humongous liquor store chain. I collect hard-to-find small batch bourbons and they have aisles of the stuff. It makes my sister’s Christmas gift to me very easy!

How will you spend your time off?
I’ll be in Texas. Baking, swimming, reading and browsing antique and vintage shops around Houston and Austin. It’s all about spending time with my whole family together, which I don’t get to do very often. My father travels overseas a lot and my sister lives in Texas, where my parents have a second home and my mother spends half her time, so we’re really only ever all together at Christmas. Our French heritage really dominates come the holidays and even my father, who’s from England and is therefore mad about all things Christmas in a different way, gets in on the French-Canadian traditions. He’s made the signature tourtières for years (along with his mince meat tarts and the Bûche de Noël), and my very favourite part of the holidays is the last couple of days leading up to Christmas, and in particular, Christmas Eve. 

 The delicious Bûche de Noël
 

My sister, mother, father and I are all in the kitchen cooking and preparing the snacks, the cookies, the sausage rolls and the meal all day long. The ovens basically run non-stop, the kitchen is as warm as a bakery, and my dad and I compare notes on the craft holiday beer we’re drinking as we cook. And we listen to our favourite Christmas album, which is Kenny and Dolly’s Once Upon a Christmas, over and over, singing along with abandon like goofy lunatics. It’s really fun.

What’s your favourite holiday tradition?

Growing up, my brother and I had a sleepover every Christmas Eve (sleeping bags and alternating our rooms each year). When we woke up Christmas morning we were allowed to go through our stockings but had to wait until our parents were up to touch the gifts under the tree. The excitement of it all always made me happy and it still stands out as a favourite tradition.

Favourite store to receive a gift from?
That’s a hard one! Indigo has a really amazing selection of stocking stuffers, stationery and home stuff (not to mention all of the books and mags) so I can’t say I’m ever disappointed with something from there.

How will you spend your time off?
I’m heading back to the East Coast to rest, recharge and catch up with friends from home. Halifax can be damp this time of year but there’s nowhere I’d rather be (and then back to Toronto in time to ring in the New Year).


What’s your favourite holiday tradition?
Two weeks before Christmas, buying a tree, setting it up, writing and addressing Christmas cards while watching Bill Murray in Scrooged. (Ed. note: a must-see. Go rent it if you’ve never watched it!).

What’s your favourite holiday tradition?
The nine adults in my family draw names and exchange stockings on Christmas morning. It’s kind of cheesy but doing a lot of small presents for one person is a good way to acknowledge who they are and what they like: specific books, cosmetics, silly stuff, notes, treats. I dig it.
 
Favourite store to receive a gift from?
Any used book store. I love getting books more than anything. Barring that, Holt Renfrew. 

How will you spend your time off?

I’ll be in suburban New Jersey and New York City at Christmas this year, so I’ll be chasing my nephews and nieces in the snow, and doing the classic Manhattan-at-Christmas stuff. 

Rockefeller Center