I don’t know about y’all, but I personally think that one of the best ways to ring in the new year is by staying in and having a really romantic evening with your boo thang. This New Year’s Eve, though, I want those who are planning to do just that to take things up a few notches because, if what they say about how you start the year is how you will end the next one is true, it’s important that things go off with a blast and bang in the very best ways possible.
To help you out, here are 15 things that you can do in order to pull off an uber romantic and pretty sexy night at home. One that will not make you regret staying in for. Not even a lil’ bit.
1. Decorate the House (or At Least Your Bedroom) with Carnations
I know that some people consider carnations to be nothing more than “filler flowers.” However, they are cool in my book 1) because they are super affordable and 2) as it relates to this article, they are one of January’s signature flowers. So, if romance to you includes flowers, stop by your local florist or grocery store and get some of these.
Whether it’s for a centerpiece on your kitchen table or you want to put a ton of stems around your bed, it’s a sweet way to set the “Happy New Year, babe” mood.
2. Get Your Own Fireworks (Well, Kinda)
It’s probably been a decade since I’ve gone out to watch the guitar drop (which is what happens in Nashville) and even longer since I’ve given the 4th of July any kind of thought. Still, if there’s one thing I like about those types of occasions, it’s fireworks. No, you don’t need to be trying to light any up in your home but a cool workaround is to get some dessert sparklers (like the ones here) because they’re cute and super festive. Another option is bottle service sparklers that you can put into your wine or champagne bottles. If that’s more in your lane, you can cop one of those here.
3. Make Some Love-Themed Fortune Cookies
I don’t know what it is with me and fortune cookies, but I definitely look for them whenever I order Chinese food. Anyway, did you know that they are super easy to make? All you need is flour, egg whites, sugar, and butter. And how sweet would it be for you and yours to open up a few on New Year’s Eve, only to see handwritten fortunes from the both of you? A recipe for the cookies is here. Oh, and if you’d prefer a company to customize some fortunes for you, Etsy has some that will for a really good price. One option is here.
4. Order a New Year’s Eve Meal (Ahead of Time)
If cooking is a way of expressing love for you or your partner, hey, have at it. Personally, because there really is no telling when you’ll get to take time off again, I think the less work (and clean up) that you have to do, the better. So, whether it’s 12/30 or during the day on 12/31, order a meal to pick up or, even better, to be delivered on New Year's Eve. Then all you’ll have to do is heat it up and serve. Perfect.
5. Create an “Our Love Story” Playlist
Before getting into this one, I just want to send a shout-out to Jewel Ham. She’s a Black woman who claims that while she was interning for Spotify, it was her recommendations that perfected their annual Wrapped List even though she was not credited for it (side-eye). That being side (again, side-eye), New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be all of what it should be without some great music playing. At some point, customize a playlist that tells the story of your love, ignites memories of some great dates the two of you shared, gets you in the mood for the “big finale” or…all of the above. Whether it’s background music or something to dance to, it will definitely keep you and yours in a really good mood.
6. Dress All the Way Up. Or Down.
Just because you’re going to be in this New Year’s Eve, that doesn’t mean that you need to ring in the new calendar year in sweats or onesie PJs (c’mon now). Since this is all about romance, take things up a few dozen notches by dressing to the nines. I mean, going all out in an evening gown while your man is in a tux or suit. If you light some candles or even hang a disco ball from the ceiling somewhere (Party City typically carries them), it can feel like you’re on an official date (because you are). Or, you can get totally naked. Doing the most or nothing are both really sexy in my book.
7. Bury a Time Capsule
Something else that I personally think is super romantic is when couples come up with things to put into their own time capsule and then bury it, only to dig it back up several years later, whether it’s on another New Year’s Eve or a milestone anniversary.
As far as what “should” go in them, it can be memorabilia, things that symbolize what 2021 was like for you and your relationship, love letters that you will keep private until you both open the capsule years up the road — the options are totally up to you. Like I said, it’s pretty romantic and it’s a really affordable thing to do.
8. Feed Each Other Grapes
Although eating black-eyed peas is a pretty popular tradition (especially in the South), the fact that Confederate soldiers relied on them so much, that also gets some side-eye from me. Anyway, what I can fully get behind is a tradition (and a bit of a superstition) in Spain that consists of eating 12 grapes, at midnight, on New Year’s Eve. Since they symbolize good luck and prosperity and since they’re also an aphrodisiac that represents romance and fertility…why the heck not?
9. Toast with Rossinis, Champagne Margaritas or Pomegranate Sparklers
New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without some sort of turn-up. This year, instead of going the predictable plain champagne route, go a little off-script. Some drinks that are pretty popular for ringing in the new year include Rossini's (prosecco and strawberries), champagne margaritas (champagne, honey, lime, and tequila), or pomegranate sparklers (a recipe with alcohol is here; a mocktail is here). And since tipsy sex can make for the kind that is more intense, it definitely should go on the to-do list.
10. Count Down with Some Number Lollipops
Yes, yes. In the ever so wise words of Lil’ Kim, how many licks does it take to get to the…(LOL)? A sweet and sexy way to countdown to midnight is to get some lollipops that have 1-10 on them. Once you have them in hand — lick, flirt, and seduce away, however you see fit. Some cute ones that I found were on an Etsy site. You can check them out here.
11. Play “Rewind and Fast Forward”
A wise person once said that if you want to get a gauge of what your future will look like, pay attention to what your past has been like. That said, something that can make you feel more emotionally connected to your partner (which always makes sex so much more satisfying) is to play a couple of rounds of what I call “Rewind and Fast Forward.” Talk about the best moments of 2021, along with what the two of you would like to be able to say about your relationship, come this time next year. Vibing in this way can make you both feel seen and heard — and there is always something that is sexy and romantic about that.
12. Declare a Strictly Sex-Related Resolution
I once read that only eight percent of people actually make a resolution and then keep it all year long. That’s a part of the reason why I wrote “Forget New Year's Resolutions, Try This Instead.” last year for the site. Yet if you are someone who is big on making resolutions or you want 2022 to be the best year ever as it relates to your sex life, check out “10 Sex Resolutions Every Married Couple Should Make” and then ponder what kind of sex resolution you and your partner would like to make in preparation for the 12 months that lie ahead. The kind of sex a couple has can say a lot about their relationship. Only people with sucky sex lives tend to believe otherwise.
13. Pop a Confetti-Filled Balloon at Midnight
I mean, you can watch the ball drop on television if you want or you can put your own spin on it from the comfort and convenience of your own home. One way to do this is to get a balloon that is full of confetti and then, at the stroke of 12, you pop it so that all of the confetti comes out.
Party City and Walmart are two stores that should have these. Just make sure to cop one sooner than later; they tend to sell out fast around this time of the year.
14. Have a Sexual Celebration with Some (Edible) Body Glitter
Whether you’re like, “Girl, don’t nobody feel like cleaning up all of that mess later” or you are someone who likes as much sparkle as possible, don’t forget to cop some edible body glitter (because if all goes well, there won’t be a lot to clean up, feel me?). Because once the stroke of midnight hits, there is some other, umm, stroking that needs to be done. Speaking of midnight sex, check out “Why Couples Should Engage In ‘Midnight Sex’ More Often” for a bit more motivation to stay up later.
As far as where you can get your hands on some edible body glitter, The Sugar Art is a site that carries all kinds of colors and versions of it. If you want some additional body glitter into the mix, just because, you can get that here.
15. Remove All Clocks
While it’s important to focus on the clock on New Year’s Eve in order to get to midnight, once that time passes, who cares about watches, smartphones, and anything else that displays the time? Hopefully, you’re off on New Year’s Day, so spend the night and following morning — sleeping and sexing (check out “Here’s How To Make Morning Sex...Sexier”)…sexing and sleeping. I can’t think of a finer way to start off 2022. Can you?
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Summer Walker's 'Caresha Please' Interview Shows Why Yung Miami Is The Ultimate Girl's Girl
As one-half of the City Girls, Yung Miami (born Caresha Brownlee) has always used her voice to empower women, whether it’s telling them to boss up or leave a relationship that’s no longer serving them. And with her Revolt podcast, “Caresha Please,” Miami continues to uplift other women but in a more intimate setting.
The “Act Up” rapper’s latest interview with Summer Walker proves that she not only raps about it but she practices what she preaches. The interview covered everything from the “Unloyal” singer’s dating life to being a mother to her music career. When the conversation shifted to Summer’s anxiety, Miami used the moment to praise the Billboard music award winner’s qualities and talent.
Summer has been vocal about her anxiety in the past and explained that it sometimes affects her when she’s performing. While talking to Miami, she also shared that she struggles with being herself in public because she fears being judged.
“They be judging ratchet b--hes, like they really be judging ratchet b--hes,” the “Pull Up” singer said. “People be like, ‘oh, she look dirty, she look dusty, she’s ghetto, like dadada…so I be tryna just keep it together, and then I know it’s also hard for people to like understand the concept of multifaceted people like people that have different sides of them, like it’s not just one way, and it be confusing people, and they be like, ‘well, how she sing about this but she act like this.”
Summer continued by saying that that’s why she is generally quiet on stage because she doesn’t want to say anything “stupid.”
Miami quickly chimed in to let Summer know that it’s okay to be herself, and that’s why people love her. “Anybody that knows me know like I’m a big Summer Walker fan, and I feel like when it comes to R&B artists, we don’t have a R&B artist that’s showing their personality or showing a different side,” she said.
“When we see R&B artists, we just see like their music and just the reserved them, so I kinda feel like to have a new R&B artist that’s ratchet, that’s themselves, that’s what we need. That’s what’s missing, and that’s what make you, you, and that’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with you because when I found out who Summer Walker was, it was “Girls Need Love,” and then I remember, I saw like a twerking video of you on the pole, and I’m like, ‘I love this b--h.’”
She continued, “Like I never saw that from a R&B singer, and I feel like from one artist to another, I don’t feel like you should bury your personality or not be true to yourself because of perspective.” The “Jobs” artist ended her response by saying that people love others who are authentic.
Summer admitted that everything Miami said was true and that she never thought of it like that. “People just be in their head for no reason,” she said.
We love seeing women give other women their flowers and provide safe spaces. At the end of the interview, both Summer and Miami expressed how much they like each other and how they should hang out more.
Miami’s interview with Summer is the true definition of sisterhood.
Summer Walker Talks Realizing Her Self-Worth, London On Da Track, Lil Meech & More | Caresha Pleasewww.youtube.com
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