The Crush Letter No 139: Ask Dish & Other Useful Holiday Questions Answered

. 16 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about life, love, and culture for those 50+. Because midlife and beyond is so much hotter than they said it would be. Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

Hope your holiday season is rolling along merrily. You’re busy, I know, so I’m going to make this short and sweet. This Letter is devoted to providing you with useful things to get you through. I’m on your side!


In This Letter. +Ask Dish: Answers to Your Stray Questions Holiday quandaries. +The Holiday Anti-Checklist. Liza Lentini Doctor’s orders and boss’s projections aside, you’re good enough the way you are and don’t need to change a thing. +Effortless, Natural Holiday Makeup. By Lauren D. Weinstein Here’s how to do it by simply swapping out a few tried and tired staples for something modern, fresh and new. +Dishing. +Social Media I Loved This Week +Our Song of the Week

Ask Dish: Answers to Your Stray Questions - Holiday Quandaries

From the sublime to the ridiculous, I get a lot of random questions. I answer them periodically here. Got a stray question?  Submit it using this link.

Dear Dish:

I am throwing a holiday dinner party for eight, and there is no way to avoid inviting one of my closest girlfriends. The problem? She is dating somebody new and although this will be my first time meeting him, other mutual friends have told me that he is pretentious and a dominating conversationalist and a bore. He has a high-powered career. I’m already stressed over this because I don’t want him to ruin my party and the girlfriend involved is very sensitive. Help.

Thanks Dish!

Hostess Dread

Dear Holiday Dread:

I would greet him warmly and with an open mind (he is a close friend’s new romantic partner and you owe her that). I would want to make him feel super welcome because it is best to get these bff-adjacent relationships off on the right foot! I would tell him, because it would be true, that I have heard so much about him (a specific detail would be nice here, like “and that you are the person to get tips from on the best places to go fly fishing”) and that I seated him next to me so that we would have a chance to chat. I think the very best thing we can all do when meeting somebody new — especially somebody who is important to somebody important to us — is to ignore any rumors we’ve heard (jealousy drives a lot of snarkiness, as we all know) and adopt an attitude of genuine curiosity. And optimism.

And then, just relax, be yourself and host as you otherwise would. Since you‘ll be sitting next to him, if it does turn out that he is trying to dominate the conversation around the table, you will have some shot at damage control by diverting him into a tete-a-tete (an opportunity to pick up the fly fishing tips). And surely, if he is relatively new to her and entirely new to you and presumably to most of your other guests, he will be on his best, most charming behavior in an effort to impress your close friend. My guess is that he will be more fun than you imagine. Good luck, I’m sure your party will be festive!

Dear Dish:

I noticed over drinks with a close girlfriend “Janet” that she has started to grow an ever-so-slight mustache. She is blonde, and so you can only see it when the lighting is coming from a certain angle (sideways). I would bet she just can’t see it because she would be looking at herself in the mirror straight on. She cares a lot about her appearance. The thing is, she has two very close sisters who live nearby so I keep assuming that she must know because that is precisely what sisters do, right? Tell you the things nobody else wants to, or has the guts to, and that you definitely don’t want to hear but need to know. Please advise.

And thanks so much for The CRUSH Letter! My husband and I are excited about spending some time this winter watching the erotic films in the new column from Christian Pan on steamy classic films.

Happy holidays, Dish!

It’s a Hairy Situation

Dear Hairy Sitch:

I just posed this question by text to five separate close girlfriends, asking them: “Would you want me to tell you?” Here’s what they said: “Absolutely!” “Definitely, without hesitation.” “Fuck yes.” (Two of them.) And then one (the most assertive among us, it should be acknowledged) said: “IF YOU DIDN’T I WOULD FUCKING FRIEND FIRE YOU.”

So, yeah, totally awkward. But you’ve got to step up. When it comes to women and mustaches, is there such a thing as “ever-so-slight?” I think not. You must assume that Janet’s sisters haven’t been sitting at a bar with her in just the right lateral lighting.

I think the question is how to tell her. I would have amazon send you whatever you use to address your own facial hair. (I use a combination of this peach fuzz facial hair remover and this tweezer.) Then, the next time you see her (and I’d make a point of seeing her soon because, hello! Holiday parties) after she (and you) have finished a drink,  start with “This is awkward, Janet, but since I would want you to tell me if I were in your shoes, I have to tell you something.” And then I would say, “You may not realize this because it is only noticeable in certain lighting and at certain angles, but you have some facial hair.” And then I would say, “A friend had recommended these products to me a couple of years ago, so I got them for you because I love you. But of course I love you regardless, so if it is not a big deal for you let’s pretend this never happened.”

A few summers ago on Nantucket I was meeting up with three girlfriends to kick off the season. After the first round of Paloma’s one of the women grabbed the very items I linked to above from her bag and gave each of us a set. “Ladies,” she said, “I got to the island a little earlier than everyone else so I need to tell you that Sally (she did the waxing and electrolysis at the salon we all used) did not come back this summer. They haven’t gotten a replacement yet, and so I am taking matters into my own hands. As long as I was getting these for myself, I figured you’d all need them too. I mean, we are at that age.”

What none of us ever figured out was whether she had actually spotted some upper lip hair on one of us and just determined that this was the best way to handle the situation, or what. I will say is this, though. We all ran home to our best-lit mirror, her gifts in hand, and took a very, very close look.

Whether you are a sister by blood or by choice, this is what you signed up for. But time is of the essence here.

And thank you for being a subscriber! I am very excited about watching the erotic films in Christian Pan’s column PrimeCrush & Chill: Steamy Classics Worth an Re-watch, too! We will be unrolling that column, as well as his column on classic erotic books starting in January. Oh how I love these types of winter sports! 

Next week I will be answering a question from “New Squeeze,” who wrote in to ask about what to give Kate, the new girlfriend of a few months who he is really excited about but the gift-giving is causing some anxiety. Understandably, since that first holiday season is a lot.

From what to say to your V.S.O. (“Very Significant Other”) about her ubiquitous sweat pants to hosting around all those food restrictions, read Dish’s past answers here.

The Holiday Anti-Checklist. By Liza Lentini

A very different sort of guide that goes inwards and honors what’s really important, because the holidays - and that includes a New Year - aren’t the same, and neither are you.

Everything’s different now, including you. It stands to reason the holidays, including a New Year —and your approach to them—will be a little bit different, also. Instead of listing all the things you need, as has been done ad nauseam, this list includes everything you can leave behind this holiday season, so that when you show up—whether it’s an intimate home gathering or a nontraditional getaway—you’re showing up for yourself first.

Here’s your checklist of what you can likely live without:

  1. The weight of other’s expectations. Endings make the best beginnings, and what better way to end the year than shedding the weight of what you’re “supposed to be” doing, what others expect of you, and comparing yourself and your yearly achievements with anyone else.
  2. Uncomfortable clothes. We all joke about living in leisure-wear over the last year or so, but if we’ve learned anything, it’s that you don’t need a starched shirt to be more powerful. Point of fact, stretchy pants are best for yoga and dancing.
  3. Leaving outfits for “someday”. The above (#2) comment aside, if you want to wear your ball gowns for breakfast—do it. Do it for you. Do it on an average Tuesday. Mostly working from home, this is something I started doing before the pandemic, and it starts every day off with a fun, whimsical initiative. If you’re like me and a tulle skirt makes your life more complete, don’t wait—wear it. (Conveniently, they go perfectly over leggings.)
  4. Big group gatherings. For some, it’s important to gather and visit with loved ones on a larger scale. For others, we’ve learned that the smaller the celebration the better. And if you’re alone and that’s where you want to be—all the more wonderful.
  5. Traditional family. Same as above, if you love your blood family more than anything, the holidays won’t be the same without them. For others, it’s more important to create a new family with new traditions that speak to who you are now. Also like above, if your family is just you and your four-legged child or simply your healthiest, happiest thoughts—wonderful.
  6. “Holiday food”. If you’re someone who lives for holiday food—excellent. For someone like me who has a sensitivity to turkey, I’ve always craved lighter, easier meals that have nothing to do with tradition. In my house, we tend to opt for a tasting menu of choice favorites, holiday “appropriateness” aside. They’re foods that are sourced locally and affordably, and make us happy.
  7. Obligatory gifts. I hope the one lesson we’ve all learned over the last year, is that the greatest gift we can all have is the simple things. The more time we spend at home, the more we realize we don’t have room for stuff we don’t need. It’s worth mentioning that a lot of people are still suffering significantly from pandemic layoffs, and if you know this person and you really want to help them out, a gas card or grocery-store gift card are more help than you’ll ever know.
  8. Shopping “Big”. If you are purchasing presents and want to make the absolute most of your well-earned dollars, shop small. Please, please, please shop small. This includes your local stores, that woman selling cookie baskets, a sculptor/painter/potter, a knitter—there are so many. When you shop small, you help someone keep the lights on and feed their family. Jeff Bezos will be fine without your holiday purchase, I assure you.
  9. “Doing better next year”. Why do we always think we need to do anything differently? Why do we assume we need to be “better”? Doctor’s orders and boss’s projections aside, you’re good enough the way you are and don’t need to change a thing.

Effortless, Natural Holiday Makeup. By Lauren D. Weinstein

If you’re looking to perfect your natural-makeup look, our resident expert has the tips and tricks.

Pre-pandemic, I always wore makeup, even to throw out the trash. (Don’t judge me). Yes, I’m vain, but makeup helps me to feel awake and ready…for anything). Friends would gently tease that I must have come out of the womb wearing mascara and my signature, shimmery, bubblegum pink lip gloss. I love everything about makeup and its transformative powers over my mood and appearance.

Then COVID engulfed us with its destructive presence, cancelling plans and stamping out lives. It created chaos, uncertainty, Zoom meetings, remote learning, drive-by birthday celebrations, and shiva calls. Isolation was my friend and days that turned into months of lounging, wearing my worn-out flannel PJs, became both my comfort and prison. This new reality signaled the demise of the world as I knew it and the end of my daily makeup ritual.

This feels like the first holiday season when we are fully swinging back into our lives, it’s a perfect opportunity to reclaim and revamp our makeup routine. Nothing elaborate or over the top, a la Joan Collins circa Dynasty: Something just a notch above natural. That seems just about right during these bare-lipped and precarious times.

Here’s how to do it by simply swapping out a few tried and tired staples for something modern, fresh and new. With a few changes, you’ll be looking in the mirror and belting out “I Feel Pretty” in no time.

Start with your eyebrows. They frame your face and accentuate your eyes. Routinely, trim, shape and fill in, if needed. Choose either a pencil or a tinted eyebrow gel or eyebrow mascara. They can add volume and keep feral hairs in place without looking stiff or like you filled them in with a Sharpie.


Thrive Causemetics Infinity Waterproof Eyebrow Liner. 5 shades, holds like a wax, blends like a powder.

NYX Professional Makeup Tinted Eyebrow Mascara. 5 shades, sets, tames and tints.

PRO TIP: If your hair is light, choose a color one to two shades darker than your hair color; if you have dark brows (brown or black) match your hair color.

Wipe off any excess product from the wand (drugstore brand is fine!) BEFORE using to avoid putting too much on. Start at the arch, don’t forget the tail end of the brow, then go to the front and fill in with short, light strokes. Use a spoolie or a toothbrush to brush up and through the brows to keep it natural , yet defined.

Ditch the powder eyeshadow and embrace cream based. Creams are easy to apply with your fingers or a synthetic eyeshadow brush.


Beautycounter Lid Glow Cream Shadow. Available in 10 buttery shades.

Revlon Colorstay Creme Eyeshadow. Available in a variety of matte and shimmer, wear for 24 hours. I like Crème Brulee, Praline and Chocolate.

PRO TIP: If your lids tend to be oily, use a matte eyelid primer first or pat a light coating of concealer on your lids.


Milani Eyeshadow Primer, found at most drugstores.

If eyelids are dry and discolored, I suggest Urban Decay Original Eye Potion Primer.

Personally, I don’t like heavy, full coverage foundation on anyone. Foundation should give you a flawless finish, melt into your skin and not settle into pores or fine lines. Remember to only apply where needed and blend with fingers or a dampened sponge. Blend thoroughly to achieve a seamless finish. Experiment with lighter textures such as tinted serums, tinted moisturizers and let those freckles fly!


Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation. Available in 36 shades, sheer to medium coverage, vegan.

ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint. 30 shades, clean, light coverage, mineral SPF40.

PRO TIP: A dampened sponge uses less product and will gently bounce off the skin.

Toss the powder blush and embrace cream based or liquid blush which impart the skin with a dew-like radiance that makes your face come alive.


Kjaer Weis Cream Blush. Certified organic, can be used on lips and eyes, too. I like Suntouched (soft coral), Embrace (nude pink), Desired Glow ( warm, soft, neutral).

Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush. Great shade range.

SECRET: E.L.F Putty Blush is an affordable dupe for Fenty. Shhhh!

PRO TIP: Dot on apples of cheeks with pads of fingertips, then and swipe up and out. You can also use a small blush brush to buff in small circular motions.

Swap your matte, full coverage lipstick for creamy, balm -like lip color or sheer long lasting lip tints.


Jouer Essential Lip Enhancer Shine Balm. 9 shades.

Ogee Sculpted Tinted Lip Oil. 15 shades, with jojoba and hyaluronic acid, buildable color, organic, gluten and cruelty free. I like Viola (blackberry brown) Gardenia ( auburn nude).

Chantecaille Lip Veil, formulated without sulphates, detergents, synthetic colors or fragrance. I like Honey Pot (pink nude), Tamboti (warm nude).

Now go look at your badass, beautiful self in the mirror, and strut your stuff out the door. Happy Holidays, Everyone!


I find it useful to “check” my own holiday tips against NYC-based Old Soul Etiquette’s Tipping Guide. But question: does everyone tip their garbage collectors? Perhaps this explains why mine got left on the curb last week

This series of the 30 Most Disappointing Under 30 was the best of The New Yorker’s Cartoons this year imho.

Heading to Miami? This “Miami English” guide is the bomb. It might be too late for Art Week 2023, but surely you’re going to want to escape the cold at some point this winter.

Comprehensive, actually useful gift guides. I have followed (and worked with) interior decorator and author Erin Gates for over a decade, so I have been reading her blog,, and following her on Instagram at @elementstyle forever (by social media standards). She produces what I think are some of the most useful holiday gift guides, conveniently organized by intended recipient. In addition to running her growing decor/style/product empire, she is a wife and mother of two young children, so she covers a lot of bases in her guides, both personal and professional.

If you are still searching, you may want to check out her 2023 guides:

Erin’s Beauty Gift Guide

Erin’s Under $100 Gift Guide

Erin’s “Stocking Stuffers” Gift Guide

Erin’s “For Her” Gift Guide

Erin’s “For Him” Gift Guide

Erin’s “Investment” Gift Guide

Erin’s Home Gift Guide

Erin’s “Thank You” Gift Guide

Social Media I Loved This Week




@nymag & @curbed







Song Of The Week

All I Want for Christmas Is You: Mariah Carey

Here she is, Santa Baby icon, live in March 1996 from the Tokyo Dome.

Watch here.

Dish Stanley XO,

Book Suggestions for Holiday Gifts. PS: Get Your Books from The PrimeCrush Bookshop!
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How to Be the Most Charming Person at a Holiday Party. By Evie Arnaude
Want to be someone who’s invited to all the most sought-after soirées? We have the perfect cheat sheet for you.
Anything But Dull. A Perfectly Patrick Thanksgiving By Dish Stanley
Every family has its own love language, and some involve a lot of time in the kitchen. My nephew Patrick and I hosted a Thanksgiving consisting of just the two of us and my dog, Ricky, which was just what I needed this year for a number of reasons (including
Ask Dish: Answers to Your Stray Questions
From the sublime to the ridiculous, I get a lot of random questions. I answer some of them here. Got a stray question? Submit it using the link below.

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend! And I'd love to have you join us on instagram.

The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter from Dish Stanley curating articles & intelligence on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?


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