Sparkling Nights & Twinkling Lights
A guide to celebrating the holiday season into the New Year
Celebration in the Oaks
A season of merriment, the holidays bring abundant opportunities for celebrations with friends, family and associates. From shimmering holiday lights to the fireworks of New Year’s Eve, the sparkle and shine of the season is fun to mirror with our outfits and attitudes at parties, festive events, dinners and galas. Looking and feeling your best are all part of the fun as camera flashes help capture the memories we make with loved ones year after year. Deciding how to prepare, what to wear and where to go are some of the fun of holiday and New Year’s planning, so we’ve taken a look this month at some local favorites for health and beauty, fashion, food and entertainment.
The Woodhouse Spa is all about luxury and relaxation, which for many people is hard to come by during the often-hectic holiday season. Relaxation is good for the body and mind and is a great first step to take in preparation for busy days and nights. Woodhouse Spa offers full-service amenities including male and female changing lounges with rainfall showers, robes and reflexology sandals for all guests, relaxation rooms with reading materials, hot teas and a complimentary glass of wine or champagne for each guest.
To refresh before the holidays, owner Stuart Rome recommends the Woodhouse Escape service: a 110-minute, head-to-toe service that includes an exfoliating body scrub, therapeutic salt stone massage, neck and shoulder upper body tension release treatment, scalp, hand and arm massage and a restorative reflexology treatment.
“We always recommend our various bath salt products to soak and relax in the comfort of your own home. For the big night out, our skin care treatments are a sure bet, especially our Hydrafacial treatments that result in immediate visible benefits,” says Rome.
Located just a few blocks away is Salon M, where Owner and Stylist Lisa Marquette has taken a century-old Victorian house and turned it into a styling mecca for hair and makeup. According to Marquette, the main floor features an open concept with color bar, while the café-like waiting room offers a comfortable and welcoming space for clients. The salon stays busy with blow-dries, updos and makeup during the holiday season.
“Your must-have for holiday hair wardrobe is Swept Up by Oribe. This is the most amazing, versatile product, whether you decide to wear your hair up or down, or whether your hair is clean or dirty. It will take you from day to night,” says Marquette. “Our Façade eyeliner in Bardot (black) or Lido (rich blue) will transform you, whether you’re looking for a sharp, clean look or a smudged, smoky look.”
The recently renovated Belladonna Day Spa combines the spa and salon experience with a menu of services that includes massage and body treatments as well as cosmetics, brow and lash services and waxing.
“I think a lot of people don’t know about our lash and brow tinting services. Tinting can be done in about 30 minutes and lasts up to a month. Both services are a wonderful way to enhance your features and shave a few minutes off your morning makeup routine,” says Director Melissa Benitez. “I’d recommend coming in for one of our makeup appointments or even a makeup lesson before the holiday parties start. Our makeup artists will have you feeling and looking great before an office party or a family get-together,” says Benitez.
Skincare and aesthetics are another go-to area for smoothing the face and body or for adding extra glow before a big event. At Facial Plastic Surgery, Dr. Sean Weiss offers a number of non-surgical treatments to achieve aesthetic enhancement.
“This year we have seen the release of several new injectable fillers, which continue to revolutionize the aesthetic industry and allow for beautiful remodeling and subtle enhancements of even the most delicate facial features,” says Weiss. “Combine these fillers with platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy and microneedling for a truly dramatic effect. Finally, polish your skin with a laser genesis treatment a day or two before your important events and feel great about the way you look,” he says.
According to Weiss, these treatments have little to no downtime with immediate initial results that continue to build as your body increases collagen production.
At Khoobehi & Associates, board-certified plastic surgeons Drs. Kamran Khoobehi and Jules Walters and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sophia Mai offer a number of nonsurgical cosmetic procedures for improving your skin and body. According to the practice, body contouring with CoolSculpt is a popular option that achieves results within a couple of months, which allows for a more contoured body in time for the New Year. A non-invasive fat removal procedure, CoolSculpting freezes fat cells that the body then naturally disposes of, resulting in a slimmer contour. The treatment can be applied to various parts of the body.
4030 Canal St.
4336 Canal St.
Belladonna Day Spa
2900 Magazine St.
Dr. Sean Weiss – Facial Plastic Surgery
2201 Veterans Memorial Blvd. Suite 408
Khoobehi & Associates
901 Veterans Blvd., Metairie
4500 Magazine St., Suite 1
At Swap, local shoppers can find designer clothes at deep discount thanks to the store’s consignment approach to sales. Catering to fashion lovers who also love a deal, the boutique offers dresses, tops and accessories from designers such as Kate Spade, Prada, Gucci, Chloe and Rebecca Taylor. According to owner Michelle Reinhardt, winter brings the store a variety of playful and cozy trends in styles ranging from business wear to sports lines, casual to formal wear. Their curated selection could include a pair of Rag and Bone jeans, a Vince sweater or a classic DVF wrap dress. Swap also has formal gowns for Mardi Gras, Halston and Tibi for galas and everything in between.
“Deep gem tones in reds, blues and greens are filling up our closets this season,” says Reinhardt. “You will also see colors on the lighter side, such as pale pinks and subdued yellows. We are loving all of the options for textures and patterns – plaids, florals, patent leather, velvet, metallics and even comfy fleece are all fair game this winter.”
On a long night like New Year’s Eve, Reinhardt recommends going for both style and comfort.
“I would wear port-colored velvet pants with a navy sleeveless blouse paired with a black, structured belted jacket and, of course, black pointed-toe stiletto heel boots,” she says.
Lukka Boutique is a CBD fashion destination located inside the Beacon Building in the Southmarket District across from the downtown Rouses. Buyer and Partner Michele LaCour Percy quotes the discerning critics of Vogue in relaying the latest trends: “… fashion is retaining its sense of fun, its color and glamour, always with a sense of determination and self-assuredness. In short, this season it’s all about celebrating the individuality of style.” At Lukka, Percy brings in fashionable items that likewise combine comfort and fun with the latest trends for winter being velvet, cozy knits and multi-colored furs.
Velvet is a popular choice this year for a glitzy night out like New Year’s Eve. “I would go for a rich velvet top, pants, with an interesting hem and a fabulous statement caftan or fur,” says Percy. Cozy knits and cashmere provide a welcome option for more relaxed gathering or a dinner out.
“Some of our favorite pieces are luxe cashmere by 360 Cashmere, cozy knits by The Great, Wilt or Sundry and a pair of Instasculpt distressed denim by DL 1961 for a casual yet chic look,” she says.
At Metairie Road boutique Elizabeth’s, Owner and Buyer Sal Trentacoste agrees that velvet is one of the biggest trends.
“Velvet, velvet and more velvet,” he says, noting the coveted, textured material is available in a variety of colors: greens, blues, merlots and more. Other trends that are continuing in winter this year include “anything shiny,” metallics, ruffles and open shoulder tops and dresses.
For a glitzy holiday celebration, Trentacoste recommends a snappy cocktail dress, or, for a more casual affair, a one-shoulder top with skinny velvet pants or jeans. Ruffled and bell sleeves are also in and great options for fun, fashionable tops. Elizabeth’s also offers more casual options for family gatherings or outings, such as cashmere sweaters and casual styles in velvet.
A recent addition to Magazine Street, Sosusu is the vision of Owner Susu Stall, who in 2016 realized her dream of opening her own boutique of contemporary fashion. Stall also emphasizes velvet this season – especially in navy – in addition to silver, ruffles and dark florals. “Daring and flashy” is the phrase she uses to describe an outfit for New Year’s Eve or a glamour-filled event – something with silver and sequins, perhaps.
“We offer the full range, from a flirty top from Tanya Taylor paired with jeans to the sophisticated clean lines from Brandon Maxwell for going out to dinner or a silver fringed skirt to party the night away in,” says Stall.
7716 Maple St.
5530 Magazine St.
1000 Girod St., Suite 3-B
204 Metairie Road
3427 Magazine St.
Shoes and accessories can put the exclamation point on a statement outfit, and how you finish the look can make it or break it. Knowing what to pair with your velvet pants or little black dress can make the difference in ensuring the outfit is a memorable one.
New Year’s Eve is the biggest party night of the year, and you’ll definitely want to a shoe to match the occasion.
“A fun yet comfortable pair of heels is necessary for all NYE outfits,” says Jessy Jacobs, owner of Babe New Orleans on Freret Street. “For a shoe fanatic, I would go with a statement heel that has pops of color and looks like a work of art. For those who prefer a basic heel with a little edge, I would go with a suede pump with a gold-plated heel and a velvet ankle wrap – it’s all about mixing textures!”
For winter and other holiday happenings, Jacobs is “obsessing” over other accessories such as the knee boots, beaded clutches and fur wraps.
At Feet First, shoppers will find a variety of dress-up or dress-down options. Velvet is inescapable, even in shoes, and some favorites at Feet First include velvet smoking slipper flats and a “killer” crushed velvet block heel bootie, according to manager Kagan Taylor.
“For the glitzy and glam look, I would recommend the brand VanEli, which is both chic and comfortable!” she says. In heels by VanEli, Feet First offers a few block heel options: peep toe shooties, ankle strap sandals, black shimmery pumps and suede wedge pumps. According to Taylor, Corso Como is another brand that specializes in high heels with exceptional padding and comfort.
“We have a gunmetal ankle strap block heel sandal by Corso Como that would be perfect for a NYE night of dancing as well as some versatile suede pumps that have a modern update to classic silhouettes,” she says.
Taylor loves the store’s current selection of evening bags, including the varied materials used by Ricki Designs and some vintage-inspired, embellished, statement-making handbags perfect for a little black dress or a simple holiday outfit.
“For bags, texture is definitely ruling this season, from tweed to animal print calf hair to heavily jeweled clutches,” she says.
Another fabulous and somewhat unexpected accessory for adding fun to your wardrobe throughout the year is frames. “The thing that’s really cool about eyewear is that it isn’t a dirty word anymore. Americans have finally figured out, like Europeans have for a long time, that frames are so much fun to accessorize the face with. They’re more prominent than earrings and you can change your look so easily and have a lot of fun,” says Starr Hagenbring, Co-Owner of Art & Eyes.
An “art-to-wear” boutique, Art & Eyes busts the myth that glasses should look the same and solely provide function aside from fashion. Hagenbring emphasizes the quality and style of the independent designers they carry from Europe, Japan and America. Designs are handpicked and feature a variety of styles and materials.
For fun and fancy holiday events, frames can add a lot of pop to an outfit in a variety of ways and for a variety of personalities.
“If you’re wearing a lovely little black dress with an interesting cut, you could go two ways with that dress. You could go with an extremely angular black frame to accentuate the angularity of your dress, or you could go with a pair of complete glitzy frames that would go with your necklace or just be your necklace,” she says.
Another fun approach to buying frames can be matching to your lipstick.
“A lot of people have signature color lipsticks, whether a bright cherry red, or orange or a certain color pink. There’s nothing more fun than matching frames to lipstick. Then you can wear that same frame and lipstick with any outfit.”
Babe New Orleans
5007 Freret St.
4122 Magazine St.
Art & Eyes
3708 Magazine St.
Dining out is always part of the holidays, whether it’s a pre-New Year’s Eve stop, a traditional Réveillon meal with family or a quiet, romantic dinner with a date before hitting the road to visit family elsewhere. During the holiday season, restaurants add to the charm with twinkling lights, verdant displays and festive specials.
Throughout December, Arnaud’s revels in the holiday season with a number of events, from the special Réveillon menu offered at dinner, to out-of-the-ordinary lunchtime service, “12 Days of Moët” specials and a festive New Year’s Eve dinner that rings in a special year for the legendary restaurant.
“At Arnaud’s, we say any occasion is a cause for celebration. New Year’s Eve is always a festive time at the restaurant, but this year will be a little different as we’ll be ringing in more than just the New Year – 2018 marks the year of our founding 100 years ago and the city’s tricentennial,” says Proprietor Katy Casbarian. “As we commemorate these milestones, we’ll continue to honor our legacy by keeping one foot in the past with another firmly planted in the future.” Prior to midnight, the restaurant distributes celebratory accessories to guests joining in the revelry.
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar will offer holiday cocktails such as master mixologist Chris Hannah’s Dickens’ Toddy, Tom and Jerry and hot buttered rums.
Over in the Garden District, The Columns Hotel will also be a hot spot for holiday festivities, feasts and cocktails. Throughout the month, the Victorian Lounge will offer its current bistro menu of à la carte items with the four-course Réveillon menu running Wednesday through Saturday nights and on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, brunch is offered 11 a.m.-4 p.m. throughout the first floor and front gallery and porch.
“New Year’s Eve is all about a casual ‘blast,’” says Adam Miller, Director of Catering and Events. The bistro menu will be available until 10 p.m. with cocktails pouring all day and live music offered at night. Guests can also enjoy a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.
“What a lot of people might not know is that the Victorian Lounge on New Year’s Day has a happy hour with black eyed peas, ham and cabbage – that old New Orleans tradition to start the year off right,” says Miller.
For those looking to add a bit of nostalgia to your holiday celebrations and culinary experiences, The Caribbean Room harkens back to the glory days of the original restaurant in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The recently revived restaurant was resurrected after 25 years and brightened with the look of a garden party featuring white wicker furniture and alligator leather chairs. Featuring updated yet traditional Creole cuisine, the menu is designed by Executive Chef Chris Lusk with highlights that include the Softshell Shrimp Saki appetizer and the famous Mile High Ice Cream Pie.
The holidays bring special menus to The Caribbean Room, including its own Réveillon menu, a special Christmas Day menu and a separate prix fixe New Year’s Eve menu. Since Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve fall on Sundays, you can choose to celebrate with friends and family at either brunch or dinner at The Caribbean Room. In addition to a special dinner menu on New Year’s Eve, the restaurant will offer specials on champagne and champagne cocktails.
Seafood is a staple to New Orleans cuisine, but if you’re looking to enjoy the bounty of the sea in a less traditional setting, Tsunami offers a chic, downtown destination in the midst of the city’s many holiday celebrations. Southern-inspired Asian cuisine, Tsunami’s menu combines traditional Japanese nigiri and sashimi with local delicacies such as crawfish, alligator and oysters in its original sushi rolls as well as the popular miso-marinated grilled Sea Bass.
For New Year’s Eve, the culinary team plans to work up a menu that will include exotic fish direct from Japan paired with sake and sparking wine.
“When the weather turns crisp, our guests will seek out heartier dishes. We will have seasonal ramen dishes, Asian bisques and fried noodles,” says Owner Michele Ezelle. “Japanese whiskey, on the rocks or in a cocktail, should be on everyone’s must-try list this winter.”
813 Bienville St.
The Columns Hotel
3811 St. Charles Ave.
The Caribbean Room
2031 St. Charles Ave.
601 Poydras St., Suite B
Holiday celebrations abound across the metro area and for 31 years, Celebration in the Oaks has brought a spectacular light show and throngs of visitors to New Orleans City Park for family fun.
“City Park’s famous oaks are swathed in hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, and breathtaking light displays are scattered throughout 25 acres of the Park,” says Amanda Frentz, Assistant Director of Public Relations. The festivities run throughout December, and though the event is closed on New Year’s Eve it will be open on January 1st, weather permitting.
Attendees strolling through the park marvel at the light displays installed throughout the park, including in the Botanical Gardens, Storyland and Carousel Amusement Park, while also enjoying the rides of the amusement park such as the train, Ferris wheel and carousel. Ticket lines for the holiday attraction can be long, so purchasing tickets online and in advance is recommended.
Another holiday event draws visitors across town to the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, where NOLA ChristmasFest transforms the conference hub into a winter wonderland of fun and activities. Impervious to weather, the indoor festival welcomes people of all ages to enjoy 11 days of fun, scores of decorated Christmas trees, thousands of lights, themed inflatables and carnival rides such as the Kringle Carousel, Winter Whirl, Blitzen Flyer, Polar Express and Snowy Summit Climbing Wall. Other attractions include the Snowball Fight Zone, Children’s Craft Area, holiday characters, a life-sized maze and themed-movies. Thirty-minute private ice skating lessons will be available before opening daily.
Adults can find respite in the beverage lounge with holiday cocktails, and the event provides a unique setting for corporate entertaining, company holiday parties and birthday parties. NOLA ChristmasFest will be open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, with special hours on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Day. Convenient parking is available directly across from the entrance for $15.
Parents with young children looking for family-friendly New Year’s Eve fun can get the best of both worlds at the Louisiana Children’s Museum. The museum’s annual Kids’ Countdown to Noon is a family tradition that takes place during the day on December 31st.
“For more than 20 years, the Louisiana Children’s Museum Kids’ Countdown has welcomed generations of families who come together to celebrate the arrival of the New Year at noon. It’s a wonderful way for young children to ring in the New Year with a fun and memorable celebration that doesn’t require that they stay awake until midnight,” says the museum’s CEO Julia Bland.
Crafting is part of the fun, and guests of all ages are invited to create paper bag party hats and festive noisemakers. Everyone gathers around the atrium at 11 a.m. to dance to the Blu Kru Brass Band and at noon, the celebration culminates with the museum’s traditional countdown complete with a colorful, three-story confetti toss and balloon release to welcome the New Year. The event opens at 9:30 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m., just in time for parents to get home and call in the babysitter.
For family members traveling in from out of town or friends looking for a New Orleans New Year’s Experience, a variety of hotels offer holiday packages. One such locale is the Hampton Inn and Suites Convention Center Hotel, which is a short distance from many of the activities and restaurants featured.
“On top of the many promotions and discounted rates we offer year-round, for the month of December we participate in the Papa Noel Promotion with the CVB. This is a great opportunity for tourists or Louisianans in the surrounding cities to visit New Orleans during the holidays and enjoy a few nights at one of our beautiful Hotels,” says Katie Northcutt-Edwards, Area Revenue Manager for the Hampton Inn Hotels and Suites of New Orleans.
“We have a lot of families stay with us over the holidays and it’s great to be their home away from home,” says Northcutt-Edwards. Additionally, the hotel will play host to visitors for the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day. For locals, it never hurts when making your New Year’s and party plans to consider a little stay-cation and spend your night out in the safety and comfort of a luxurious local hotel.
Celebration in the Oaks
5 Victory Drive
New Orleans Morial Convention Center – Hall 1
Louisiana Children’s Museum
420 Julia St.
Hampton Inn and Suites
1201 Convention Center Blvd.