Although I already know that some of y'all are gonna make a traditional Thanksgiving happen, come hell or highwater, pandemic or not, if you're someone who, whether it's due to social distancing preferences, your finances being on the fritz or both, would prefer to be way more low-key this year, a twist that you can put on Thanksgiving festivities, is to stay home with your boo and make a romantic day and night out of it.
It's pretty easy to pull off and doesn't have to cost you much money at all. In fact, you might just check out my 10 tips and then come to the conclusion that you should've been observing Thanksgiving, exactly in this fashion, all along.
1. Prepare the Meal Two Days Before
Out of all of the romantic tips that I offer in this article, this might be the best one. Thanks (yet no thanks) to how romantic movies typically present things, sometimes we fail to forget that romance can—and should—have a level of practicality to it.
That said, I don't know anyone who would be in the mood to be all lovey-dovey-mushy after spending all day long in the kitchen. That's why my first recommendation would be to prepare your Thanksgiving meal a couple of days before the holiday itself. That way, all you'll have to do on Thursday is heat up the food and set the table. Now how awesome is that?
2. Get Up Late and Have Breakfast in Bed
Another reason why I highly recommend preparing your Thanksgiving dinner ahead of time is so you won't have to get up early on Thanksgiving Day. It takes roughly 13 minutes per pound for a turkey alone to bake, so if you wait until Thursday to cook, you are gonna have to get up early, just to prep your bird alone. But if your food is already basically ready, you and yours can sleep in, watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and have something that I recently happened upon that is a definite decadent palate game-changer! What do y'all know about Apple Pie Stuffed French Toast (recipe is here)? You know what they say—the smoother your day begins, the easier your day will go. Some extra zzz's, a late breakfast and perhaps even some morning sex can truly make this Thanksgiving one of the best yet!
3. Go All Out on the Table Décor
When it comes to having a romantic Thanksgiving dinner, if there's one area where I think you should definitely go all out, it's when it comes to how you decorate your table. Use a linen or lace tablecloth. Pull out your finest plates and wine glasses. How about a couple of linen napkins and a centerpiece for the table (even if it's just some roses in a fishbowl)? Basically, set your table to look like a five-star restaurant. Ambiance is key when you want to be as romantic as possible.
Speaking of ideas for your table, one I saw, that I thought was simply beautiful, featured some champagne flutes that were turned upside down and had a flower (without the stem) underneath the glass. Then, the base of each glass had a tealight candle on the top of it. Easy, inexpensive and very romantic too.
4. Use Nothing but Scented Soy Candles for Your Lighting
Did you know that there's a science behind why a lot of us find candlelight to be so wonderful? It's because the flame of the candle is able to reduce stress and put us into a meditative state. Plus, it's sexy as all get out. So, when you're out making your runs, stop by a local arts and crafts store (avoid Hobby Lobby if you can; they are big time Trump supporters) and get yourself a couple of packets of soy (soy lasts longer and burns cleaner) scented tea lights or even some taper candles (they're the long ones)—or both. Then, once everything is out on the table, light the candles and turn out all of the overhead lighting. Good luck making it through dinner without moving all of the dishes out of the way and getting on the table yourself with that kind of setup.
As far as scents that will totally put you in the romantic mood—rose, vanilla, sandalwood, jasmine, lavender, cinnamon and pumpkin are all great libido-boosting suggestions.
5. Play Some Romantic Music in the Background
Earlier this year, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "Before You Pull Out Your Playlist, This Is How Music Affects Your Sex Life". One of the things I mentioned is the fact that music has the ability to affect us in the same way that food and sex does. Well, since I'm hoping that you'll get plenty of food and coitus before Thanksgiving Day is over, find a music playlist that can serve as the soundtrack for what you have in mind. You can never go wrong with 90s R&B (like…ever) yet whatever you decide, just make sure that it's super soft, sexy and sensual.
6. Dress Way Up or WAY DOWN
I've been teasing my godchildren's mother because, sometimes when I'm doing a Google Hangout call with my babies, I notice that the youngest one (who is just about a year-and-a-half) oftentimes looks like she's dressed for church. Whenever I ask her mom what the heck is going on, she usually says something along the lines of, "Girl, this pandemic has kept her from being able to wear all of these clothes. She's gonna wear them somewhere."
2020 has caused us all to become more interested in sweatpants and tees than probably ever before. So, why not use this Thanksgiving as an opportunity to dress to the nines? I mean going way past dressy casual; look like you're going to a ball—you in a formal dress with your man in his finest suit 'n all. Or, go to the total other extreme and wear barely nothing at all. A married male friend of mine once said to me that he prefers lingerie outside of sex. "When a woman only puts lingerie on right before sex, it feels like she's saying that's the only time we want to see her that way. When it's time to get it in, I want my wife to be naked. Lingerie just to lounge in is what's sexy AF to me." Enjoying dinner in a black lace teddy by candlelight with some Joe playing in the background? C'mon, y'all.
7. Serve Aphrodisiac Appetizers
Some foods are considered to be aphrodisiacs because they balance out our hormones and/or increase blood circulation to our nether regions and/or they help to keep us in a good mood. While turkey itself is actually a food that can turn you and yours on (due to the zinc that's in it and zinc increases our sex drive), whether you decide to go all out on the menu or you end up ordering some takeout Chinese or a pizza, consider enjoying some appetizers that have an aphrodisiac twist to 'em. The Roasted Root is a site that actually features a whopping 60 recipes that all feature aphrodisiac ingredients. You can check them out here.
8. Offer Up “Why I’m So Thankful for You” Toasts
As a 'words of affirmation' (and physical touch) person myself, I wasn't shocked in the least when I read that, according to science, receiving affirmations and affirming others are important because they motivate us, encourage us, and help us to overcome any negativity that may try and bring us down. Between politics and this pandemic, if anything tried to push us to our absolute breaking point, it was 2020, and if there was ever a time when you may have been more critical towards your partner, this year may have been it. Still, after all is said and done, with only a few more weeks before a new year, you're still together and that is something to truly celebrate.
One way to do that is for you both to think about the things that you are truly grateful for; not "in general" but when it comes to your partner specifically. What do you appreciate when it comes to their approach to the relationship? What do you adore about their personality? What are you attracted to on the physical and sexual tip? What have they done to make you a better person? Why do you still choose them, again and again? After sharing the answers to these kinds of questions, toast one another. Your relationship has withstood a season that other couples did not. BE. GRATEFUL.
9. Have a Romantic Movie Night
I know it's pretty traditional to watch football on Thanksgiving. Eh, I'm not sure how romantic that move is, though. An alternative can be to watch a romantic movie together instead; something that you both wanna watch (because, even as a woman, some of these Hallmark movies and rom-coms can be a bit…much). It could be a film that you both watched together on your first date, something that brings back feels of nostalgia for you both (Love Jones never gets old for me), or something that you've never seen before so that the two of you can create some new memories together. It's a great way to wind down, enjoy some pomegranate (which is an aphrodisiac) vodka, and cuddle up together.
10. Take Dessert into the Bedroom
I'm pretty sure there's a peach cobbler, red velvet cake or chocolate brownies somewhere in that kitchen, right? Put it all on a tray and take it into your bedroom, along with some spicy hot chocolate and a few of those candles that were on your table. Whether you eat your dessert off of the plate or each other, it's the perfect way to end a Thanksgiving Day that was full of romance—and then some.
Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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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.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Exclusive: Zonnique On 'The Break Up' & How Her Relationship With Tiny Shaped Her Approach To Motherhood
The last time Zonnique and I connected was two years ago, in 2021, when she was celebrating her very first Mother’s Day as Hunter’s mommy. Now, two years have passed, and so much has happened. She has released her latest EP after a five-year hiatus from the music scene, she became the host of FOX Soul’s The Mix, and I even lost my own mother. We had a lot to catch up on.
When I crossed over into the conference call after running a few minutes late, I was apologetic, but her calm, zen aura instantly calmed me down and reassured me that no apologies were necessary - just humble salutations.
With the return of Zonnique’s sultry voice to the forefront, I couldn’t go two minutes into our conversation without giving her her due flowers for her latest EP, The Break Up. “I'm happy for myself. You know it's been a long time coming, baby,” the singer shared about her work to xoNecole.
Zonnique admitted to me that her return to music was something that she’s been ready to do for quite some time, but there has been a lot of stalling in the interim. Between laying down vocals in the booth and planning around the perfect timing, there was much stop-and-start during the holding process of the project. In the end, the release and the timing of The Break Up came together as it should have when it was meant to be debuted into the world.
“Even though I was really sad about that and just mad about how long everything was taking, I think that it was worth the wait just for myself, period because I grew a lot in that time, and I got to really mold myself into the artist that I want to be,” Zonnique shared.
“One More Time” (For The Fans)
Credit: Scrill Davis
Courtesy of Zonnique
No stranger to the spotlight, Zonnique has amassed a loyal fanbase in the music industry from her time as a girl group member of the OMG Girlz all the way to her time as a reality star on Growing Up Hip-Hop: ATL and T.I. & Tiny. Now, the singer formerly known as "Miss Star" decided to put out a project specifically for her fans who have been craving to hear from her for nearly half a decade.
Because she had been teasing snippets of her music for years, the fans knew that she had something coming, but it wasn't until the last two months of 2022 that The Break Up truly came together. She completely scratched all of the music she originally created and started from the top by tapping into the feelings that she was experiencing in the moment, which included the torn mental state of a fresh heartbreak. In collaboration with a producer by the name of Valley, Zonnique created a project of five songs inspired by both her fans and the father of her child, Bandhunta Izzy.
In comparison to her 2017 EP Love Jones, Zonnique told me that her sophomore EP is "more vulnerable than the first time" and she feels more empowered and "confident to speak out." The singer also noted that because Love Jones marked the beginning of her solo career, the journey to solo stardom was a new and fresh one, and even described herself as timid.
Zonnique added, "Because [I was] coming out of a group, it can be uncomfortable at first, and I was kind of in an uncomfortable state. Even though I was proud of the things that I [made], and I'm still really happy about the Love Jones project and how it came out, I don't feel like I was as confident then, so I just was still figuring things out."
One of the most admirable traits about Zonnique is that while she's grown up on television since her days on Tiny & Toya with her mother and Xscape member Tiny, she managed to stay out of the drama and in her own lane. On The Break Up, Zonnique gets more vulnerable than she ever has about life, love, and relationships as she lets her guard down between each and every song, including the accompanying visuals featuring the father of her child.
"They might get to know my soft side or maybe even my weak side," Zonnique shared about what fans should expect from her latest project. "I feel like I'm always keeping up this positive, 'everything's good' type image. I think that they'll be able to learn [that] I go through it too, just like anybody else, and I go through heartbreak, and you'll see how I pretty much deal with that on the project."
Zonnique’s Love Song ‘23
Credit: Scrill Davis
Courtesy of Zonnique
Over the past five years, we've only been allowed as much access into Zonnique Pullins' world as she would allow, meaning that what we see on Instagram, on WeTV, or even on social media live streams are limited. When it comes to her dating life, the "Nun For Free" singer has always been relatively private and never given too much detail into the ins and outs of her love life beyond a few cute selfies that would suddenly disappear after the relationship had run its course.
Now, as a mother to almost three-year-old Hunter, who she co-parents with rapper Bandhunta Izzy, Zonnique was able to get real with me about the status of her dating life since her Love Jones days. While she says that much hasn't changed, Zonnique shared with me that she's always been a person who gives 100% to any and every relationship that she's ever been in, but like most of us, she has her boundaries and knows how to prioritize herself.
"I may mess up there a little bit, but I would say that I've always been a person that's like, 'okay, well if you mess with my peace, I'm pretty much out of here,'" she admitted. Contrary to her original thoughts, she believed that having a child would make her dating life much more difficult because she would feel "stuck here forever," but she soon realized that she was the novelist of her own romantic storybook, and it could go any which way she pleases. Zonnique powerfully and boastfully knows that she is not required to stay anywhere that may compromise her mental and emotional wellness.
"I try to still stay in the same mind frame that I was before I had a child, and I'm like, if it messes up my peace, I'll take my child, and we'll be up out of here," she added. "I feel like my happiness has always been the most important to me. I would feel like I've pretty much stayed the same in love."
Specifically, when it comes to her and the father of her child (who she also collaborated with on "One More Time" on The Break Up), Zonnique admits that they're still figuring out the boundaries of their relationship - co-parenting, platonically, and romantically. "We are still figuring that out," she shared. She doesn't deny the feeling of having love for - or even being in love with - her child's father but acknowledges that there's a weird sort of in-between limbo because of their past relationship pre-Hunter.
"It still can be difficult to be around each other and not be like, 'Okay. It's giving, what is this?'," she laughed. Zonnique shared that she and Bandhunta Izzy have come to an understanding to put their romantic feelings on the back burner and let things ebb and flow as time takes its course. "If it works out, it works out, but if not, at least we still can build our friendship. I think that building a friendship is really the most important thing, and I feel like with my child's father, we kind of got into a relationship before we even built the friendship."
"If it works out, it works out, but if not, at least we still can build our friendship. I think that building a friendship is really the most important thing, and I feel like with my child's father, we kind of got into a relationship before we even built the friendship."
Zonnique continued, "I don't know, we have a really great bond period. I think that it takes boundaries and just really figuring out what works for the two of you to be able to keep your kid happy. You both have to be happy, and you have to really figure it out as you go. It's not an easy thing."
In an effort to be happy and be the best mother she could be for Hunter, as well as being the best version of Zonnique for herself, she takes the time she needs to pour into herself so she can perform at the highest level. Between being in a relationship and cohabitating with your partner, Zonnique can sometimes feel a little burnout, especially when you add a baby into the mix.
However, Zonnique knows that sometimes it’s important to take a step back from everything that’s making you unhappy to stay in tune with your emotions, even if it means putting a relationship you really value in the backseat. "It can be a little challenging when you are being a mom and just focused on what your child needs and what's best for the family instead of what's best for you. It can kind of be a hard balance.”
Credit: Scrill Davis
Courtesy of Zonnique
Work-life balance requires patience, especially for a new mother like Zonnique. Music serves as a form of self-care for the "Ghost" singer, but she loves to share those moments with her baby girl even if her personality is larger than the songs that she's singing.
"My child is really attached to me, and she has a big personality, and she's very distracting," Zonnique laughed. "I bring her to the studio a lot, but she wants to be in the booth, and she wants to be on the mic and put the headphones on. She wants to do her own thing."
She knows that Hunter has a love for music, just like her mother, and she wants to expose her daughter early to all of the incredible things that music has to offer one's soul but knows that she has to set clearer boundaries for herself when having that time to herself. "I do like to take that time to just go in there alone and really get out my thoughts, and music is a diary for me. I'm not really an open person. I'm really private, so I enjoy being able to go in the studio and have that time to myself to just really say how I feel."
In addition to laying it all on the track, Zonnique uses working out and being alone as primary forms of self-care. "My real self-care is being at home by myself, getting rid of my child, having no company, and literally just laying in my bed, listening to music. I would lay in the bed all day, put no TV on, and just listen to my favorite songs, and I will be healed after. I don't know why that is," she admitted to me.
In times of need and support, Zonnique's first call is to none other than one of her best friends, her own mother. As a young mom herself, Tiny was able to navigate the ins and outs of being in the center of the music industry while being responsible for her mini-me, meaning she would have much advice to share with her firstborn. "I feel like my mom has never second-guessed me. She's always been in my corner. She calls me and is making sure that I'm good, other than music or anything, she's just always very supportive in every way," she said kindly about her mother.
In a previous interview on Mr. Jay Hill's podcast, Zonnique explained how her strained relationship with the Xscape vocalist when she was younger manifested itself into her self-care practices today. Admitting that Tiny's relationship with her stepfather and rapper T.I. always seemed like a priority during the interview, Zonnique told me that it impacted the way that she approaches motherhood with her own mini-me. "I feel like it affects me a lot in my motherhood. It's definitely made me a certain type of way with my child," she admitted.
Tiny had never heard her daughter express sentiments of neglect or abandonment, according to Zonnique, but knows that the adversity in their relationship would only make Zonnique the incredible mother that she is today. "I was telling her (Tiny) it really molded me into the mom that I am. It's okay, I'm older, and I'm fine. I'm not hurt about that stuff anymore, but I'm glad that I went through those things because now I'm like, 'I'm going to take my child.' Even when I know it's probably going to be a lot harder that I take her, I still take her, and I just push myself to go over and beyond for her, which I enjoy."
"I feel like it affects me a lot in my motherhood. It's definitely made me a certain type of way with my child. I was telling her it really molded me into the mom that I am. It's okay, I'm older, and I'm fine. I'm not hurt about that stuff anymore, but I'm glad I went through those things because now I'm like, 'I'm going to take my child.'"
Zonnique Is Great
Credit: Scrill Davis
Courtesy of Zonnique
This time around for Mother's Day, Zonnique has expectations that are a bit different than when we connected two years ago. "What excites me the most is just knowing that I'm not going to say a real mother, but I would say I'm really flourishing in motherhood," she said as she acknowledged herself proudly.
"Not to toot my own horn, I'm in motherhood, and I feel like I'm starting to get to a point where I'm comfortable, and this is my life, and I'm good at this. I'm not second-guessing myself. My child will be okay, and I'm not stressed and worried about what's next or things like that. I feel like I'm just really settling into motherhood this year."
In retrospect, Zonnique has come a long way in her parenting journey throughout the past two years, and it shows. Confidence, resilience, and patience are not only pieces of her character that Zonnique has already possessed, but they've been amplified through her responsibility as a mother.
From the ups of teaching her daughter her passion for music and dance to the lows of achieving balance, Zonnique says that she's ready for it all - and we love to see it.
The Break Up is available on all streaming platforms.
Featured image by Scrill Davis