Be the Life of the Holiday Party

Whether you’re planning a party at your place, heading to a friend’s bash or prepping for your school’s winter dance, we’ve got pointers guaranteed to make you sparkle all night long. Even better, they’re super easy to follow -- we promise.

Pencil in Some Pre-party Fun
Tons of girls spend the days leading up to a party just sitting around and thinking about the big night. Don’t be that girl! Instead of zoning out, do something you love -- like practicing ballet or volunteering at an animal shelter. It’ll put you in an awesome mood ... and you’ll have something fresh and exciting to talk about with party pals!

Dress to Impress … Yourself!
You know that super-cute outfit that boosts your confidence level the second you put it on? Now’s the time to wear it. Knowing you look amazing will put an extra swagger in your step. Don’t have anything in your closet that dazzles? A cool new accessory can instantly (and inexpensively) up your glam factor. Raid the sale racks or a secondhand store for a glittery headband, sequined belt or sparkly pendant to add major pizzazz to your look.

Bust out With a Buddy
One of the most stressful moments of any party is ... the second you walk in the door. That’s when you’re taking it all in, feeling overwhelmed, and possibly wondering what to say to your crush when you first see him. Shake the grand-entrance jitters by inviting a friend over to your place to get ready together. When you arrive as a pair, you’ll be excited -- not nervous -- about what the night has in store.

Talk to Strangers
We know it’s totally tempting to stick like glue to your BFF -- or the cutie who sits in front of you in math class. But here’s the thing: You’ll have way more fun if you chat up your crew and even some people you don’t know very well. For a convo-starter, comment on how much you love the music (or snacks or whatever). Then ask your new friend what she thinks. It can be as simple as, “OMG, I love this song! Are you a Rihanna fan too?”

Get Your Game Face On
There could be awkward silences (even the best parties have them!). To get the vibe buzzing again, whip out an idea for a fun party game. Suggest something like “20 Questions” with a reality-TV theme. Another of our favorites is “Do You Know the Lyrics?”: Just put an iPod on shuffle and take turns pausing at a random point in each song to see who knows which words come next. The party pace should pick up momentum in no time flat!

Perfect Presents for Your Peeps

Doing some last-minute holiday shopping and scratching your head over what to get for your loved ones? Or, worse, are you in total panic mode? Yikes! Chill it, OK? We’re here to light the way (kinda like Rudolph).

Perfect Presents for Mom

  • The mom who needs a break
    You can easily put together a spa-day-at-home gift pack by rounding up toiletry items at the dollar store. Simply toss soaps, sea salts, bath scrunchies and scented candles into a pretty basket!
  • A green-thumb mom
    Get an oblong planter and place a small bag of potting soil and some packets of seeds inside of it so Mom can grow her own herb garden on the windowsill. This is also great for moms who love to cook!

Perfect Presents for Dad

  • A sports-fanatic dad
    Official sports gear can be pricey, so why not take the fun, unofficial route? Whether he needs socks, sweats or whatever, use your dad’s favorite team as inspiration by sticking to a color scheme.
  • The cerebral dad
    Bookstores have huge markdowns on books they want to move. Hit up the clearance rack to pick out a good read for your dad.

Perfect Presents for Sibs

  • The “I’m bored” brother
    A great way to beat boredom? Board games! If your budget is super-tight, you can get old-school classics like Chinese checkers, backgammon or dominos for less than $10.
  • A style-conscious sister
    So you don’t have the dough to splurge on expensive designer duds? You can still hook sis up with some awesome accessories. Go for earrings, belts, scarves or headbands.

Perfect Presents for BFFs

  • Your sentimental besties
    Buy each of your closest friends a blank journal and write a personal message on the inside cover. Pick up some pretty pens, then use colorful ribbon to tie one to the front of each journal.
  • The casual acquaintances
    Hit the drugstore to stock up on inexpensive tubes of lip gloss. Attach holiday gift tags and pass them around to your group of gals.

Perfect Presents for a Boy

  • The laid-back boy
    Get him some incense and a nice holder -- something tough, such as carved wood. And be sure to go for more masculine scents, like spices and musks. Stay away from florals, OK?
  • The boy who plays guitar
    So what is it about a guitarist that makes girls crazy? We’re not sure, but if you’re lucky enough to have a BF who strums, guitar strings and picks are super-duper cheap -- and he’ll love ’em!

Fear Is Not Your Friend

Ah, fear. Whether it’s about acing a final exam, talking to your crush or hitting your parents up for a later curfew, the one thing that can throw you into a tailspin is fear. It’s a powerful emotion, but we’ll walk you through some ways to say, “Hey, fear! You don’t scare me!”

“I have to do a class presentation, and it counts as a big part of my grade. I’m totally nervous.”

Fear Tactic: Feel it!
Don’t fight it. If you want to shake the jitters, give in to ’em a little. As you prepare for the big day, whenever you feel a wave of fear come over you, feel the discomfort of it. Fear multiplies and super-sizes when you resist it, but feeling the fear allows it to move through you (buh-bye). Then make it a point to have fun putting together that project -- and carry that positive vibe into the classroom.

“I’m going to a party with my crush, and I’m freaked out because his ex-girlfriend is going to be there. Help!”

Fear Tactic: Face it!
This is a good time to get in front of the mirror and give yourself a pep talk. Get grounded in your confidence and don’t carry with you any icky feelings, such as jealousy or insecurity. Be your absolute best self at the party, and boldly but humbly confront the face of fear by introducing yourself to the ex-GF. Just smile, make eye contact and warmly say, “It’s so nice to meet you.” Was that so bad? Now enjoy the par-tay!

“I want to hit up my parents for more allowance, but I’m scared to even approach them about it.”

Fear Tactic: Forget it!
We’re not telling you to give up on your dream of getting your parents to pad your allowance (or whatever privilege you want). But we are telling you to stop thinking about it so much. Overanalysis can cause emotional paralysis. So just tuck this subject away in the back of your mind. The next time you see an opportunity -- that is, when your parents have their guard down and you’re feeling particularly brave -- just take a deep breath, walk up and just ask.

“I’m trying out for an all-girls ice hockey league, and I’m so afraid I won’t make the cut.”

Fear Tactic: Flip it!
The thing about fear is that it often feels very similar to another emotion: excitement! Is your heart racing? Is your brow sweaty? Shift your thinking from being afraid to being totally geared up for an awesome challenge! So what if you don’t make tryouts? You enjoyed yourself in the meantime. Now you can spend time improving your ice skills, or you can take up another activity. It’s entirely up to you; life is an adventure for the fearless!

Shut Down the Boy Drama!

Wasn’t life so much easier back in first grade when boys still had cooties? Before guys practically hijacked every thought in your head space, the most annoying thing about your daily life was when your knee socks wouldn’t stay up.

But now? You’ve got this guy doing that, that guy doing this -- and none of it makes a lick of sense! Luckily, we’ve got it all figured out for you….

The Boy Who Should be Kissing You is Dissing You

  • The scene: You know he likes you -- his sister told your BFF. So why does he act as if you smell like burnt hair mixed with sardines?
  • The reality: It’s the teenage version of throwing sand at you on the preschool playground. He’s acting like he hates you because he likes you -- and he doesn’t want his buddies razzing him.
  • The happy ending: Keep being your warm smiley self, but keep it low-key and not over the top. He’ll eventually get that he can let his guard down because you’re such a chill girl. Right?

Your Best Guy Friend “Betrays” You

  • The scene: Your BGF announces that he has a crush on the one girl he knows you can’t stand. Grrr.
  • The reality: He could be trying to get a reaction out of you. And is it so bad that a guy wants to grab your attention? Or … he actually likes the girl.
  • The happy ending: Know that whom he dates is none of your biz. Give him your blessing, and don’t attempt to compete with his crush -- and be there for him when she dumps him for the next cute guy who comes along just because that’s the way she rolls.

The Official Boyfriend Is Acting … Different

  • The scene: He always calls, but this time he didn’t. He always puts his arm around you at lunch, but this time he didn’t. He always does whatever, but this time he didn’t.
  • The reality: Something is up, and OK, maybe it has to do with you. You can’t force a dude to show affection, so why try?
  • The happy ending: Ask him straight up what’s going on. You might find out he’s in a funk because his parents or coach are giving him heat. But if he says, “Nothing’s up” or (gulp) that the relationship is on the rocks, your best bet is to back off. He’ll reach out when he’s ready -- as long as he’s feeling it. Otherwise … embrace the fabulousness of being newly single!

Your Brother Is a Space Invader

  • The scene: He hacks your computer to read your private Facebook messages, copies and sends his friends the most secretive IMs between you and your BFF, and is generally ruining your existence.
  • The reality: He’s a turd who doesn’t respect boundaries.
  • The happy ending: Invasion of privacy is not acceptable. It really isn’t. It’s time for your parents to get involved. Tell them, maturely, about the problem. Betcha they’ll put a stop to it. Stat!

Five Things Girls Talk About That Boys Can’t Stand

Summer serves up tons of possible poolside opportunities for chat time with your crush, and we want you to enjoy talking with him. But hear this: Among other things, he does not want to know how fat you feel when you’re cramping …OK? Here are the five convo topics that totally turn guys off:

1.    Every Tiny Detail of Your Entire Life

Some girls are like human Twitters, talking -- without even taking a breath -- about any little thing that crosses their mind. They don’t talk to guys; they talk at guys. This includes reading texts from friends out loud, commenting on the texts, pausing to mention that you need to pick up some ointment for your rash, complaining that you’re still hungry even though you had cereal and leftover pizza and then and then and then. … Chihuahuas at a gerbil farm don’t yap that much.

Simple Solution: Listen more. Listen a lot more. A guy who feels like he’s being heard will enjoy spending time with you.

2.  Anything About Your Period
Ever notice that just the word “period” makes most guys cringe? Sure, it’s immature, but boys aren’t ready to talk about cramps, flow, zits, bloating or bad moods. Your period is an outrageous and awkward mystery for a guy, and it’s not your job to educate him on the nuances of the menstrual cycle.

Simple Solution: If you don’t feel so great and need to pass on the whole bikini-bonanza-bike-riding day in the sun, tell the truth and say you don’t feel well. If he asks for details, tell him your stomach hurts. Seriously, spare the bloody deets.

3.  Gossip About All Your Friends
Gossips always think there’s a reason why they’re sharing information: “She did this to me” or “He did that to her” or “I need your opinion on this problem.” But the problem is usually that no one will stop talking about it. When you share something about someone else, you’re gossiping. When you’re talking about other people in any negative way, you’re gossiping. And gossiping is unattractive.

Simple Solution: Stay positive! Talk about things you like, things you want to do, things that sound fun.

4.  How Embarrassing Everything Is All the Time
It’s possible the whole embarrassed-at-life thing is part of a girl’s puberty journey. There are days you’re zapped with an intense desire to constantly check to see if you have food in your teeth or if your fly is open. But nervous, self-conscious girls rarely get the guy. Unless he’s ridiculously hot for you like Biebs is for Selena (because, yeah, that happens so often), you’ll lose his attention.

Simple Solution: Confidence can be learned, so fake it until you make it. Trip, burp or lose your cool in front of him? Smile and take a bow. We bet he’ll think it’s funny and cute -- not dorky.

5.  What You Don’t Like About Today
“It’s beautiful, but it’s so darn hot.” “It feels like everyone’s on vacation, so it’s not as much fun as usual.” “Lunch was good but really expensive, right?” “That girl has a good body, but her swimsuit fits weird.” “Your new haircut is cute, but you should grow out the bangs.” Girl, do you see the trend here? The negativity comes through -- not the positive setup statement -- every time. Guys want to be around someone who likes her friends, likes what she’s doing and isn’t impossible to please.

Simple Solution: If you verbalize the positive thought and leave off the negative thought, pretty soon you’ll actually stop thinking the icky stuff altogether!