Friday, December 19, 2014

Naughty and nice Ice breakers

“Have you been naughty or nice?” is my favorite nice ice breaker at holiday cocktail parties.

But thanks to one of my co-workers with a wicked sense of humor, I learned a naughty one, although as social editor I caution you to use this only with someone you know well enough to tease because it’s never funny to hurt someone’s feelings: If you see someone in a sweater at a holiday party, go up to them and say, “I didn't know this was an ugly sweater party.”

You’ll probably get pinched, but it is a funny line.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

A welcome detail



In life, it's sometimes the smallest detail that can mean a lot.

I was reminded of that yesterday when I went back to the campus of my alma mater, Queens University of Charlotte. I was there to meet with the sharp and delightful Jane Williams, the university's assistant director of annual giving.

She wanted to meet with me to discuss a volunteer opportunity and give me a personal tour of the beautiful campus and some of its exciting new buildings. We had a wonderful time and I learned a lot about the current new buildings and some other new improvements on existing buildings that are in the works. I'm so proud that Queens is thriving.

The whole visit was uplifting for me, but what really put it over the top was the parking space Jane reserved for me in Burwell Circle outside the university's main building, Burwell Hall.

It was a small gesture, and one that's been done for many other visitors, but I was completely thrilled. I was so tickled that when our meeting was over I asked Jane if she would take my picture with the sign. It was just a printed sheet of paper, nothing fancy, but it was such a welcoming gesture and it made me feel special and important.



So thank you, Jane. And thank you Queens for giving me a great education, lots of support throughout my career and the lifetime friends I made while studying there.

Go Royals!

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Is this the perfect holiday shoe?


The stylish staff at Via Veneto sent me an email saying the store had the perfect holiday shoe. 

As you can see from the photo, it is a spectacular design. I love it too and plan to feature it next week in a Style cover story I'm doing on the popularity of sparkly clothing and accessories. 

But this shoe is so beautiful and special, I thought I would go ahead and mention it in my blog because it deserves to be under someone's Christmas tree and my story doesn't run until Christmas Day. 

The shoe is by designer Giuseppe Zanotti. It's made in Italy and is exclusive to Via Veneto in the U.S. It's upper is velvet and rhinestone; the foot bed and sole are leather. The price is $520. 

Via Veneto is at Phillips Place. 704-556-0710; www.shopviaveneto.com

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson


Friday, December 12, 2014

Mourning Cecil Shearin

Anyone who ever worked with Cecil Shearin, co-owner of Elizabeth House Flowers, is in mourning over his death at age 62. He was so talented and such a wonderful man.

He was so respected that almost every floral shop in town sent one gorgeous arrangement after another to the visitation at Hankins & Whittington. He did so many stunning arrangements for weddings, parties and events that everyone from mothers-of-the-brides, event planners, socialites, philanthropists and community leaders are mourning his loss.


Those who loved him and his work know that he fulfilled his destiny of using his talent to make the world a more beautiful place and that he did it with great kindness and humor.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A special New Year's Eve party

I've never been a New Year's Eve person, but I might make a celebratory exception since I just found out the Duke Mansion is hosting a New Year's Eve party to celebrate its 100th birthday. It's just one of the special events planned at the historic mansion in 2015. 

The party is from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 31. There's dinner, dancing to music from award-winning lounge DJ That Guy Smitty, a champagne toast to ring in the new year and a late-evening breakfast. 

Chef Harrison Booth is in charge of the multi-course dinner served in a heated tent adorned with lights on the lawn. 

Attire is black tie and the cost is $515 per couple or $258 for single tickets. Proceeds benefit the mansion, which is run by a nonprofit and is on the National Register of Historic Places. To purchase tickets call 704-714-4445 or email kellis@tlwf.org. 

Here's the menu: 

Citrus Endive Salad with Duck Confit (bone-in) and Pomegranate Champagne Vinaigrette in a Pipette

- Duet Entrée -
Duet of Salmon Wellington and Rossini Beef Tenderloin
(Salmon Wellington will be prepared with an Herb Shallot Compound Butter
and the Beef will be prepared with a Madeira Sauce with Truffle and Torchon Foie Gras)

Served with Duchess Potatoes
and Baby Vegetables (blanched and sautéed in herbed butter)

- Dessert –
Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Filling and Almond Cake with Raspberry Filling
Served with Fresh Berries and Raspberry Coulis
Cake by WOW Factor Cakes

Specially curated wines by Josh Villapando of Assorted Table Wine Shoppe, to include:

Sparkling Wine at arrival, butler passed, served in champagne flutes

2 Whites and 2 Reds to pair with Salad and Entrée Courses

Sparkling Rose with Cake

Champagne at midnight

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Monday, December 8, 2014

Millennials and holiday shopping

Simon, which owns malls around the country including SouthPark mall and Concord Mills mall, just released its 2014 Simon Holiday Shopping Behavior Survey. 

A lot of it focuses on Millennials (those who became adults around 2000). That group tends to like malls the most so Simon has renamed them Mallennials. 

The survey has some bad news for dads - they're the least favorite person to shop for. 

Here are the results: 

Mallennials


  • 89 percent of millennials plan to shop at the mall this holiday season. 
  • 80 percent of millennials reported they “sometimes have a real sense of accomplishment after holiday shopping at the mall.”
  • 81 percent of millennials agree that a key benefit of shopping at the mall during the holidays is avoiding the risk of gifts not being delivered on time.
  • Millennials are the most likely generation to volunteer time this holiday season with a charitable organization (25 percent say they volunteer, compared to 16 percent of Gen X, those born from 1965-1980). 


Sad dads

  • “Dad” finished last (2 percent) when respondents were asked about “favorite person to shop for this holiday season."
  • “Children” comfortably finished first at 40 percent.
  • “Spouse/partner” earned a 24 percent share.
  • “Extended family member/friend” earned 13 percent. 
  • “Mother” finished fourth at 9 percent. 
  • “Boyfriend/girlfriend” snagged 8 percent. 
  • Even “someone else” garnered 3 percent of the votes. Sorry dads! 


Tech habits
  • Many shoppers, including 76 percent of millennials and 72 percent of Gen X, indicate they have purchased a gift at a store’s mall location after browsing the retailer’s web site. 
  • One-half of holiday shoppers (51 percent) plan to use their mobile devices while holiday shopping to compare prices.
  • More than half of holiday shoppers (53 percent) like stores or malls with apps that can make shopping easier. 
  • Two-thirds of millennials say they would post about a good holiday shopping experience on social media sites. 


Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Santa's first stop

I recently attended an annual holiday tea at the Charlotte City Club hosted by a childhood friend and her daughter who is now a student at Myers Park High School. It’s a fun mix of the mother’s friends and the daughter’s friends.

I especially got a kick out of the custom napkins that read “Santa Visits Myers Park High School First!”

I had to swipe one for my husband, a Myers Park alum (Go Mustangs!) and he loved it.

It’s a really cute idea that could be tailored to anything that makes you proud. Mine would read “Santa Visits Redheads First!” or “Santa Visits Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Owners First!”


What would yours say?

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson