Holiday Survival Guide


By The Editors
December 1, 2014 9:00 am
Holiday Survival Guide

December is a gauntlet.

Office parties. In-law parties. Getting-crabwise-with-the-fellas parties.

Taken together, this daisy chain of revelry challenges a man’s constitution. It’s the End Boss of the season. A collection of celebratory moments that represent, as any band named Europe will tell you, The Final Countdown of the year.

But brother, we’re here to help you get through them with aplomb.


How to Cut Down a Tree

Felling a Christmas Tree is a time-honored tradition. Honored by fathers. Honored by sons. Honored by fathers-in-law who may just want to see what you’re made of. And so. Here’s how to do it with that most time-honored of chopping implements, ye olde axe.


1. Determine which way you want the tree to fall.

2. Clear away children and fathers-in-law from the landing zone.

3. Plan your escape route, should the tree decide to fall on the guy mercilessly chopping it down.


4. Make the face cut: that’s the cut on the side of the tree in the direction you want it to fall. The cut should basically be wedge-shaped. Forty-five degree angle.

5. Continue until you’ve chopped about 30% of the way through the tree.

6. Now, make the backcut opposite the face cut. Same technique, but a little higher than the face cut.

7. Continue until you’ve chopped about halfway through the tree. You’re left with a “hinge” in the middle of the tree — that’ll prevent the tree from “kicking” out.


The tree should begin falling on its own, but give ‘er a push if need be. Just don’t stand next to it once you do.

How to Dress, Illustrated

Office Party

Dressing for the holiday office party is, oddly, akin to dressing like a British professor. Trade the suit for a pair of slim cords and a tweedy blazer, then throw a white oxford and Fair Isle sweater underneath. Add a pair of smart cap-toe boots. Poor British accent optional.

Goin’ Out

With so many people around you doing it wrong, the holidays are your best chance to make the turtleneck work. Get one that’s chunky but cut slim, then pair it with some moleskine trousers and glossy Chelsea boots. On top: a high-collared peacoat or overcoat (known affectionately around InsideHook HQ as a “vampire coat“). Knit skull cap optional. (Ed. note: be aware that anyone with a skull cap and a mustache automatically looks like a fisherman.)

Lounge Time

Start with SAXX boxer briefs. Goofy name, but among the most comfortable underwear we’ve ever worn. Sheath the pups in Stance socks. If you’re gonna wear wolf socks, now’s the time. Finish with a OnePiece jumper — because if you’re not using the holidays as an excuse to rock getups like this, you need a lesson in cheer, Ebenezer.

How to Be On Time

You’ve got a lot on your plate in the coming weeks, gentlemen.

Yes, turkey legs.

But we’re talking social calendar.

You’ve got the annual office party. Dinner with her parents. Dinner with your parents. Your kid’s politically correct, denominationally neutral holiday pageant.

These are things you need to be on time for.

Which is where the Timex Weekender Leather 40mm comes in.

Two hands. Twelve numbers. Polished silver tone case.

And a slip-thru leather strap you can easily swap out depending on your outfit or mood.

One watch. Many occasions.

Pick one up today and they’ll throw in a smart washed nylon strap to boot.

Always Have a Flask 
And Four Other Essential Rules

The holidays are about making people happy and having a good time. So be the guy with these things. Everybody loves the guy with these things.

  1. Get a flask. Fill it with Avion Reserva 44. Carry it everywhere. You will be popular.

  2. Carry a lighter. Somebody will smoke. Somebody will have cigars. If you’re not a man of affectation, any plastic jobby will do. But if you are, may we suggest a vintage Dunhill or Cartier. Sets you apart from the Zippo guys.

  3. Throw a couple shoe wipes in your dopp — an ounce of prevention saves a pound of cure. 

  4. A small, versatile pocket knife attached to your keys will come in handy, even if you’re just opening bottles.

  5. Cards Against Humanity makes an excellent host gift.

How to Stock Your Bar for a Party

The key to throwing a party is buying the right supplies. Sure, Peppermint Schnapps is a welcome holiday treat, but you don’t want to be the host who runs out of everything but. 

So, to ease your anxiety, we put together a bar-stocking guide. Of course, every party is different, and what you buy varies by what you and your guests enjoy. So we’ve created a guide for the average, everyday, nobody-has-gonzo-predilections soirée. If you and yours go heavy on the Scotch and never touch mezcal, then substitute accordingly.

Before we start, a few rules of thumb:

  • On average, guests drink two drinks the first hour, and one per hour after that. Unless your guests are magazine editors, and then they drink two drinks the first hour, then four drinks every hour after that until somebody’s wife starts crying.
  • One liter of liquor makes 22 mixed drinks
  • You usually need one bottle of wine per eight guests
  • Opinions vary, but we suggest equal red and white during the holidays. Be sure to get a variety.

The guide below assumes about 25 very thirsty guests.

So here we go:

Get three liters cheap vodka.
Get one liter cheap gin.
They’ll get mixed anyway.

Splurge on bourbon.
Bulleit is a good choice. Two liters.

Mount Gay for rum. One liter.
Avion for tequila. One liter.
For Scotch: can’t go wrong with Highland Park. One liter.

Champagne? Get four bottles.

One bottle per eight guests, minimum of two bottles.

Fifty cans will do her, depending on how Southern you are.

Sodas and Such
Splurge on tonic.
Two liters of Fentimans is worth it. 
Get three liters cola and three liters diet.
Home-squeeze the juices (2 liters per type).
Limes, etc.: about one half lime/lemon per person.
Olives, onions, etc.: about two per person.

Glass. Always glass. Unless there’s a pool. 
Mismatched vintage glasses are a good look.

Oh, and the ice. 
One and a half pounds per person.


The Family Circus Guide to Hosting a Holiday Party

You, the host, have many responsibilities. Here’s how to capably manage some and genially avoid others, while ensuring your guests have a delightful time.

The Front Door
Meet your guests. Take their coats. Hand them a drink. Show them where the bathrooms are. People who come empty-handed should be shot.

The Music
Not too loud, not too soft. Not too schmaltzy, not too garish. “Christmas Vacation” by Mavis Staples isn’t a bad choice. Yes, the one from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

The Bar
This is an opportunity to showcase a drink that revelers will remember all year. Mulled wine or Champagne punch will do the trick. 

The Kitchen
Avoid at all costs.

The Dining Room
Double-check place cards. Good talkers in the middle. Boors at the edges. Hosts at the end.

The Living Room
Where the ambulatorily challenged gather. Where the old men watch TV. Keep everybody’s drinks filled and you’ll be a hero. Kiss granny. 

Kid’s Room/Rumpus
Stop in. Wrassle. Try to play the Nintendo thing. Lose. Hold winner by ankles, shake out pocket change. Remember there’s no such thing as change, because children have debit cards now, and you are old. Cry into your mustache.

Pig BBQ/Outdoors
Where the men drink and enjoy finger foods (clams over a grill do nicely). An outdoor TV is welcome. Beware propane space heaters. They will light your cousin Danny on fire and your stepmother will have to put the fire out by yanking his pants off. This is a true story.

How to Survive the Elements

To survive this winter, a man must weather many storms.

In-laws, yes. An untoward advance or two from the amorous and overserved, sure.

But also, you know: Snow. Sleet. That fiendish East Coast blend they call wintry mix.

For all that inclemency, there’s Belstaff.


Belstaff does superlative outerwear in waxed cotton. And goose down. And sharp black leather.

Not to mention: chunky knits, sweaters and scarves to keep you cozy underneath. And rugged, moto-approved boots that’ll have you treading the elements in style.

Belstaff’s been outfitting gents for the worst of the outdoors since 1924.

Safe to say they’ve learned a thing or two in the century since.


Pick up some gear today.

While shopping for loved ones, you may suffer from a momentary lack of fiduciary self-control. We say: indulge thyself, but be smart about it. The best self-gifts are ones you want, don’t necessarily need, and know that nobody else is going to get for you.

1. Marius Onesie
Because it’s Christmas, dammit. And if you can’t find a reason to wear this, you’re doing the holidays wrong.

2. DJI Phantom 2 Vision+
Tell yourself the neighborhood kids will love it.

3. Sonos Playbar 
Wirelessly plays everything hooked into your TV. Doubles as a WiFi music speaker. Brilliant.

4. uKeg Pressurized Growler
So your draft beer doesn’t go flat, which would be a travesty.

5. DV8 Play Package 
Full set of adjustable golf clubs that fits in a overhead-compliant backpack. No more checked clubs, bub.

Holiday Music That Doesn’t Suck

A home is not a home without music. But there’s no need to replicate the schmaltz of your local mall. Below, our Spotify playlist of (mostly) non-traditional holiday songs. Get weird.

InsideHook’s 2014 Holiday Playlist

“Christmas Time Is Here” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio
“Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from the Nutcracker Suite
“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra
“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” by Bruce Springsteen
“Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Bing Crosby
“White Christmas” by Otis Redding
“Father Christmas” by The Kinks
“Come on Santa” by The Raveonettes
“Blue Christmas” by Bright Eyes
“Please Come Home for Christmas” by James Brown
“Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Dean Martin
“A Great Big Sled” by The Killers
“Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas” by Eels
“Sexy Baby Christmas Mine” by Morphine
“Pretty Paper” by Roy Orbison
“Anorak Christmas” by Sally Shapirox

And so much more…

How to Smell Good and Influence People

The secret to charming someone, they say, is to direct attention away from yourself.

Ask questions. Listen. Ask more questions. Always use their name.

But if we may recommend a less subtle tactic:

Don’t smell bad. 

In fact, smell really, really good.

And for that, you’d do well to pick up some Polo Blue.

Just remember: Don’t overdo it. Keep it light. Airy. Charming.

Just like Polo Blue.

The Best Eggnog You Can Buy

Things George Washington liked:

1) Freedom. 2) Punctuality. 3) Really, really strong eggnog.

Here’s his recipe. Mix liberally; consume carefully.

12 egg yolks, beaten
12 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
12 tablespoons sugar
1 quart cream
1 quart milk
½ pint bourbon
1 pint brandy
½ pint dark rum
¼ pint sherry

Mix liquor first. Then separate the egg whites from the yolks. Add sugar to beaten yolks, mixing well. Slowly beat the liquor into the yolks, followed by the cream and milk. Set aside.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form in the foam, then fold into the yolk mixture. Let stand in a cool place for five days so the alcohol can cure the raw eggs. Garnish with nutmeg and cinnamon stick.

*Nota bene: if you’d just prefer to buy your nog, Organic Valley is a solid choice that’s available nationwide. Intense nutmeg. Almost peppery. 

Surviving the In-Laws with Aplomb

Visiting the in-laws is not unlike being a Navy SEAL — you get in, you get out, and life continues as though you were never there. Style Director and good-guy-to-know Danny Agnew explains how:

Step 1: Bring dad’s drink of choice.

Dear God, don’t tell him you brought something “better.”

A bag of ice won’t hurt, either.

Wear comfortable clothes. Sets a good mental mood.

Xanax never hurt.

Set the tone: firm handshake. Smiles all around.

Fact: it is difficult to be disagreeable with someone who hugs you. Use this to your advantage.

Help in the kitchen. Hold a baby at some point. When the old man wants to talk, he’ll talk. When he doesn’t, he won’t. Oblige him.

Remember: his team is your team. If his team is emphatically not your team, sorry bud: let it go. You’re not changing his mind.

Don’t argue with your wife.

Be agreeable. Say you get it. Say you love her.

I mean hell, she might not want to be here, either.


Danny Agnew
Style Director and Good Guy to Know

A Guide to Persuasive Language

That guy who gets free things and special treatment from strangers in exchange for absolutely nothing: good guy to know. Better man to be.

Thus: five tips to charming the pants off any and everyone you need a favor from this holiday season.

1) Dress well. People will think you’re important whether you are or not.

2) Speak naturally. I.e., not faster, slower or louder than normal. Being genuine fosters trust. Being able to ape being genuine also fosters trust.

3) At the airport, skip the kiosk and go straight to the first-class lounge for assistance. Paying the $50 entry fee might mean getting home for dinner.

4) Be persistent. Polite but firm. Most customers back down easily when told No by an “authority.” Most “authorities” back down easily once it becomes clear a customer isn’t going anywhere.

5) If all else fails, become the “Kindly Brontosaurus.” Stand quietly. Lean forward slightly. Clasp hands loosely. Stare placidly. Nod empathically. This is science.