The next few weeks promise to be as hectic as they usually are at this time of the year. Helping you get through Christmas with minimal fuss, here's T3's guide to surviving the party season seeing you through safely into 2012.
Christmas gift shopping and the general festive partying, juggling the end of year work commitments with Yuletide boozing never seems to get any easier. If you're already wondering how you are going to get through Christmas 2011, fret not, T3 has got your back.
Crafting your indispensable guide to the shindig season survival, with the tech and tips to ensure you're not a tool at yule, read on to cover off your grooming, booze, food health and work management for Christmas 2011.
T3's guide to surviving the party season: Looking the part
1. Finding the perfect suit to party in
John Buni, managing director of Tailor Made London, on how he’ll laser fit you for a whistle
Step 1: Measure
“It’s fast, taking 10 seconds from head to toe compared to 30 minutes it would take a skilled tailor. The scanner takes thousands of measurements and posture points to create a digital twin of your body, while a traditional tailor would take between 10 and 20”.
Step 2: Cloth
Choose from a seasonal selection of over 2,000 cloths from the finest British and Italian weavers.
Step 3: Choose your cut and customise
Create something classic or trend influenced and finish it off with an iPhone Pocket or something to store that oversized airline ticket. Don Draper or James Bond? It’s up to you.
Step 4: Order
Measurements are sent to our tailors in Germany where your bespoke pattern is used to cut the cloth by laser to your precise shape, reducing material waste. Delivery is in 2-4 weeks. A traditional tailor would take 2-3 months. Need more suits? Your exact size details are now stored.
From £550, www.tailormadelondon.com
2. How to remove nasty stains
Stain removal essentials:
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Washing Up Liquid
- White Vinegar
- 90° Alcohol
- White Cloth
How to remove:
Beer: For wool and silk, apply a mixture of warm water and 90° Alcohol, then rub with a clean cloth
Coffee: Apply pure glycerin, then rinse with warm water.
Ink: Soak the fabric in milk for several hours and rinse in cold water.
Blood: Rinse in cold water. Do not rub the blood, just dab gently. Blood cannot be removed once a garment has been washed in warm water.
3. Treat yourself to a posh shave
“We won’t necessarily get your shave any closer than you could at home, but we’ll give you the luxury of relaxing while it happens.
“We lay the gentleman back and then apply a pre-balm to soften and moisten the skin, then we apply a hot towel, then pre-balm again.
“We lather up with a badger brush. Badger is like human hair in that it absorbs heat and moisture. It’ll bring heat to the face which will open up the pores and soften the face.
“Then we remove the hair, shaving with the grain. Every client gets a brand new razor blade.
“To finish we apply more balm, a second hot towel, then an after balm and a cold towel to close and tighten up the skin. Then a few sprays of cologne to finish it off.”
4. Buying the perfect watch
1. Diamonds- for a dress watch only
2. Leather strap - an aesthetic, formal look
4. Titanium - lightweight. Stronger than stainless steel
T3's guide to surviving the party season: Drinks and music
1. Picking the ultimate cocktail ingredient
Rupert Lovibond, head bartender of Hunter 486, is a fan of peach juice…
“Peach is essential as it is the interlink between all spirits – you can also make it as strong as you like. With the key ingredients of lemon juice and peach juice all you then need to do is raid your cupboard. Try two parts Cognac, one part Apricot brandy/liqueur, one part lemon juice, one part peach and half a part sugar.”
Ultimate bartender kit list
Metal shaking tin
Set of 6 spoons: 15, 10, 5, 2.5, 1, 1/8 ml
2. Picking the music
Matthew Sheret, Data Griot for Last.FM: “When preparing the ultimate party playlist don’t hedge your bets on one specific genre of music. Choose a mix of artists and styles and prepare your music in advance so on the night you can worry about the food, the drink and getting a kiss under the mistletoe”
3. Keep your champagne chilled
Rupert Lovibond, head bartender at Hunter 486, suggests: “to keep champagne cold don’t use a metal ice bucket. metal adjusts the quickest to temperatures but the outside adjusts to room temperature. use a clay pot – one you would put a plant in – as it becomes very cold and retains the temperature for a very long time.
4. How to store wine
Vic Sinclair, buyer for large electrical appliances at John Lewis, debunks wine storage myths and recommends three top wine coolers.
“Keep wine in the correct conditions to ensure the wine matures properly. Too warm and the wine will age faster; too cool and deposits may develop. Red and white wines require different storage temperatures. You generally store white wine at 10-12°C, and reds at 12-16°C. Some wine coolers offer independent temperatures within the unit, allowing you to keep
your full bodied claret on the bottom and your bubbly on the top.”
“Bottles should be stored on their side to keep the cork moist and prevent air from entering. Wine cabinets will help with this as some models retain humidity, helping to prevent the cork from drying out.”
“Screwcap bottles and sparkling wines can be stored upright.”
“If you want to show off your wine collection make sure that the wine cooler has a UV-protected glass door, so that it will not be affected by the sun.”
More: Best wine coolers to buy
4. Match your wine and cheese
iPairings is an iPhone app that pairs food and cheese with 131 wine varieties. over 1,400 combinations in total. It's available to buy from iTunes now priced £0.59.
5. Don't upset the neighbours
Like Slade turned up to 11 but don’t want neighbours calling the council or police? follow the advice of Dominic Baker, acoustics business Unit Director of Audio Partnership
“Different frequencies will travel through buildings to a greater or lesser extent depending on the size and construction. This can be extremely annoying for neighbours, they will not necessarily be able to hear the music, just a specific frequency drone that keeps them awake.
“Use an app that turns your phone into an RTA (real time analyser), such as the free RTA Lite . This reads and displays frequencies as a bar graph. You can look at the sound spectrum near your house’s wall and identify which frequency is annoying the neighbours. Then, if your sound system features a graphic equaliser – reasonable ones can be bought for around £200 – you can make a very narrow and deep notch at this frequency. That way no-one notices the frequency is missing, but the neighbours get some peace.”
T3's guide to surviving the party season: Food
1. Choose the correct ice
A novelty ice cube tray won’t cut it. ensure you pick the right rocks for your beverage…
Melts slowly, causes least dilution. Best with spirits you don’t want to cut, like a good whiskey.
The halfway-house between dilution and cooling; lend to shaken or stirred drinks.
Cools the quickest but disappears the fastest. Use to water down strong cocktails.
What to use…
The Andrew James Ice Cube Maker with ice crusher makes three sizes of ice cube.
Price: £129.95, www.amazon.co.uk
2. Making the ultimate canape
Beef filled Yorkshire pudding with Horseradish butter
Preparation: 5 minutes plus 1 hour standing time
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Ingredients: 75g plain flour, two medium eggs, 125ml whole milk, seasoning, six tsp vegetable oil, 25g butter, two 180g beef rump steaks, 100g softened butter, 2tbsp horseradish sauce, 2 tbsp parsley.
Place the flour, eggs and milk into the food processor bowl at speed 2 until fully combined. Season and whisk for at least three minutes, or until smooth and frothy on the surface. Pour the batter into a jug and leave to stand at room temperature for an hour.
Place the softened butter into the food processor. Add the horseradish sauce and parsley. Process all of the ingredients at speed 3 until smooth. Spoon on to a square of greaseproof paper, roll into a sausage shape and chill in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 220°C, gas mark 7. Divide the oil between a 12-hole Yorkshire pudding tray. Place in the oven for about ten minutes or until the oil just begins to smoke. Pour the batter into the tin. Cook for 15 minutes or until risen and golden.
Heat a griddle or frying pan. Brush the steak with oil and cook for two minutes each side for rare or four to six minutes each side for medium.
Leave to rest for five minutes before slicing thinly. Pile the steak in the Yorkshire pudding and top with slices of horseradish butter.
More: Best Home gadgets to buy
3. How to battle the hangover
Rupert Lovibond, head bartender at Hunter 486 at the Arch, London helps us beat the dreaded hangover
“Vodka is the cleanest spirit, distilled to remove flavours, congeners and impurities, so it won’t add to your hangover. Try it in the Corpse Reviver…
Ingredients: 40ml Babicka vodka, 10ml chartreuse, 20ml banana purée, one egg yolk, 10ml apple juice
Instructions: Shake, pour into a sour glass and dust with paprika. Drink fast. Na zdraví!
T3's guide to surviving the party season: Get your work life Christmas-ready
1. Microsoft Office tips
From presentations to email chains, these Office tips from Microsoft will help speed you along and lighten your load
“Manage and track emails easily. Long conversation threads can now be managed, compressed and filed away in just a few clicks. Any new emails coming will automatically be filed and join the compressed conversation.”
Ignore: ctrl + delete. Clean up: alt + delete
“A digital scrapbook to help organise your life, OneNote saves your notes to the cloud so you can access them on the move.”
How: Use windows key + s to clip something into Onenote
“Forget editing software; you can now embed videos right into the presentation and edit them there. If you’re really short on time, just pull a video from the web and place it right in your presentation.”
How: Insert tab > media group > video > insert video from website
2. Out of office replies
Don’t boast about holiday destinations and avoid jokes in your auto out-of-office reply as both will wear thin quickly. keep it simple and professional.
3. Acting out (of office)
You’re away from your desk for 7 gravy-drenched days – do try not to make a fool of yourself. Allison Nawoj, of ladder-climbing website www.careerbuilder.co.uk, has the following advice for holiday downtime.
“Put an "out of office" message on your voice- and e-mails and arrange for a colleague to handle urgent requests and leave his or her contact information on your messages.”
Take time to reflect
“Use time away from the office to think about the past year and what you accomplished. Looking back on previous accomplishments is important as it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and lose track of important achievements – both personally and professionally.”
Be a goal-setter
“Once you’ve taken the time to reflect on the previous year, focus on what goals you’d like to meet in the new year. Want to be promoted? Learn a new skill? Conquer a presentation? Now is a good time to plan ahead for the future.”
Expand your network
“The holiday party circuit is a great opportunity for you to meet new people and establish connections. Take advantage of social functions to get to know people in your industry or others who can help you achieve your career goals.”
Prep for your job search
“If you’re currently unemployed, or if you’re employed but still open to a new opportunity, use the downtime before the start of the new year to polish your job searching strategy. With companies typically ramping up hiring after the first of the year, you’ll be in good shape if you’ve taken the time to update your CV, fine-tune your cover letter and create a list of target companies.”
T3's guide to surviving the party season: Feel your best...despite the excess
1. Party hard, exercise harder
Personal trainer Pete Luxford, www.peteluxford.com, on striking the right party/exercise balance at Christmas, plus a few tips on minimising the damage
“Rest days are important. Arrange your schedule so that your workout precedes the party and a rest day follows the day after. This way you get your workout, can let your hair down, and avoid the guilt of a missed workout the following day.”
“If you are planning a drink or two, try to get some complex carbs and protein. These will digest slowly so you will feel fuller, and your blood sugar levels will be better regulated, slowing the absorption of alcohol. If the quinoa and tofu bake are unavailable, a chicken sandwich or two, or baked potato with beans is a good substitute.”
“No one wants to be the guy having a lager and a glass of water, but matching water and booze drink for drink works. It helps hydration, thins the strength of the alcohol, and stops you drinking so much. You must also ensure you’re well rehydrated when working out. Don’t down as much water as possible following your exercise – you can only absorb so much at a time and your body will get rid of what it cannot process in time. Sip little and often over a period of hours to rehydrate properly.”
“Drink water and take two normal painkillers – ibuprufen, aspirin, paracetamol etc – before bed to avoid the first symptoms of pain and headaches. The following morning eat a normal breakfast. Fatty breakfasts are not going to help other than to add to the calorie intake and put more fat in your system. Brown toast and peanut butter is a good start as the carbs will help raise blood sugar levels and the protein in the peanut butter will slow digestion.”
“To avoid all of the above, don’t drink. Obviously
2. Essential health apps
“This uses your phone’s GPS and data capabilities to send its location to the Instamapper server. From there it can be plotted in real time on a map, much like being in CTU with Jack Bauer… or not as the case may be. Keep it running on a night out and if you do lose your phone, there’s a chance you’ll be able to see where it ended up.”
Price: Free on iPhone, Android, BlackBerry
Instant Heart Rate
“Illness, hangovers, tiredness, caffeine, excitement, stress, too much Red Bull: all of the above can affect your heart rate. If you are experiencing an elevated heart rate you will not be able to exercise at the same intensity for the same results as you can when it is at a normal level, so check it with this.”
Price: Free on Android
3. Be wary of calorie trackers (They are not all they're cracked up to be says Pete Luxford)
“There are hundreds of these calorie trackers on the market now and many of them advertise databases of 100,000 foods. However when you look into it they are always from the USA.
“This means you end up scrolling through hundreds of different ‘sausages’ only to find they don’t have Tesco’s listed. Also, a lot of recipes or figures are based on ounces and cups.
“Instead, I would suggest visiting www.nutracheckmen.co.uk. This isn’t an app per se but it does have a mobile site. It’s a simple, clean site that tracks food and calorie consumption from a UK database to which you can add your own foods.
“It will give a target intake based on height, weight, activity level, gender and age. You can also track exercise on it as well – handy should you need to raise your calorie allowance for the day.
“The mobile access is free, but you will need to join the main website which costs £20 per quarter.”
4. Be thankful
Writing a thank-you letter? Debrett’s etiquette advisor Jo Bryant reckons, just this once, you should ditch the tech…
“First, invest in some decent woven notepaper and a good quality pen. A thank you letter should always acknowledge the actual present – ‘thank you for the lovely jumper,’ not ‘thank you for your present’ – so that it’s personalised to the recipient. “There is no set length, but it should be a couple of short paragraphs at the least to show time, thought and care has gone into it. Include a snippet of personal news, too. Send it within a week to ten days of receiving a present.”