Throw the Perfect Fiesta!

Time to bust out the piñata! Cinco de Mayo is the perfect occasion to show off your party-planning skills. A festive atmosphere and a lot of great food will help fuel the fun.

Set the mood. Before the party, fill green, white, and red paper bags with sand, and add a tea light to each one. Line the sidewalk leading up to your house with the luminaries for a festive entrance. Inside, string colorful paper banners along the ceiling (warning, they’re so bright and happy that you might not take them down), and make a playlist of mariachi and salsa music so guests can try their hand at dancing.

Scatter appetizers. Serving up your world-famous guacamole and homemade pico de gallo? Set appetizers on different tables around the room to keep guests from clustering in one area. Ask guests to pitch in and bring a homemade salsa or dip of their choice. Print copies of each recipe and set them near the dish so everyone can take home their favorites.

Make dinner DIY. Cinco de Mayo involves a smorgasbord of delicious dinner ideas, like burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and an array of tasty dips. Use the days leading up to the party to chop veggies, and set out serving dishes ahead of time. On the day of the party, make pulled pork in a slow cooker for hands-off prep and easy cleanup. Then set out a range of hard taco shells and soft tortillas with the pork, veggies, and cheeses for a DIY buffet. Guests can create their own perfect dish! Be sure to label hot sauces on the buffet table so guests can turn up the heat according to their liking.

Give salsa lessons. Maybe you have a talented friend who can lead the group, or you could invite an instructor from a local dance studio to teach everyone how to salsa. A friendly dance competition gives guests an opportunity to shake off some of that pulled pork dinner and show off their skills. Award the best dancers with prizes, like margarita-making supplies.

 

 

Pamper Yourself Like the Pros

 

TLC for your tresses.

 

 

Megawatt stars wouldn’t consider posing for the paparazzi without first treating their locks to a “hair facial.” This relaxing spa service generally includes special ingredients like soy proteins to smooth and moisturize damaged locks. For an at-home treatment, look for hair masques or deep conditioners with botanical ingredients that soften strands and add star-quality shine. 

 

Lights, camera, action.

 

 

When it comes to looking your best, it’s no small feat to gear up for the season’s biggest award show—whether you’re a starlet or a spectator. By the time the telecast begins, we’ve all heard details on who’s wearing what, the latest hair and makeup trends, and which stars are likely to bring home the gold statues. All that buildup is especially fun if you can plan a day of Hollywood-style pampering with your friends before the show. So get the party started with our step-by-step regimen, and look relaxed and red-carpet fabulous in time for the big event.

 

 

Get comfy.

 

 

Freshen your fluffiest towels and plush terry robes with a liquid fabric softener and an in-wash scent booster. Try soft, luxurious scents, such as vanilla or herbal lavender, which will soothe your guests’ senses and set the mood for the pampering to follow.  

 

 

Freshen your face.

 

 

Provide a range of facial masks and soothing creams that work for various skin types (dry, oily, sensitive) as well as chilled cucumber slices and moistened tea bags, both of which may help reduce under-eye puffiness.

 

 

 

Get ready to glow.

 

 

Baring your arms or legs for the evening? Exfoliate with an emollient sugar-based body polish in the shower, then add a bit of shimmery loose powder to your most luxurious body cream before slathering it on from your neck to your toes.

 

 

 

Give yourself a hand.

 

 

Soothe dry, chapped hands with a rich moisturizer, then paint your nails with your favorite polish. Cool shades like pale pink, powder white, gray, and taupe are trending for 2014, as are flirtier dark reds and metallics. And don’t forget to hydrate your skin from the inside out: Sip fresh juice, soothing chamomile tea, or herb-infused water while your nails dry.

 

 

Treat your feet.

 

 

Soak your tootsies in a tub of warm water, then push back cuticles. Buff rough heels with a pumice stone or file, apply a thick, creamy moisturizer, and give your toes a fresh coat of lacquer (matching your nail and toe polish is optional, of course, but encouraged by most old-school screen stars). Once you and your pals have completed the pampering circuit, you’ll be ready to put your best foot forward—and raise a glass to the night’s most beautiful winners, including yourselves.  

 

What to Do When Your Favorite TV Show Ends

It’s the circle of TV-viewing life: Finales and cancellations happen, and new (even better) programs come your way. Accept and move forward.

Step 1: Find a new must-watch show. Start with a web search. A great place to begin is by skimming fan sites of the just-ended show. Consider what the other devotees are gearing up to watch. Once you find some promising suggestions, check critics’ picks to narrow your list.

Step 2: Rally your friends. Part of the fun of having a favorite new show is talking about it with your besties. Entice them with an invite to a viewing party of the pilot episode. Post messages on your favorite social network while you watch it to drum up even more buzz in your circle.

Step 3: Establish a unique viewing ritual. A new show presents the promise of new traditions. Maybe this is the night that you break the house rules and let your entire family eat dinner in front of the TV, or have your best friend show up with her special five-layer dip each week. Just keep a stain remover on hand to remove food and drink stains so those lasting memories aren’t forever imprinted on your clothes.

Step 4: Cozy up the couch. Before debuting your new TV-night ritual, get rid of that old-TV-show juju, not to mention the mounds of crumbs buried beneath your sofa cushions. Launder slipcovers and throws in a liquid laundry detergent with a fresh, long-lasting scent that goes perfectly with your TV fresh start.