Editors Advise on The Pursuit of Happiness... The Couture Pack—or Not...

Editors share their tips for escaping holiday anxiety.

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS: Americans have a lot to worry about these days — aside from the economy, their jobs and the well-being of loved ones, the pressure of appearing festive this tough holiday season just makes people even more anxious. So WWD surveyed editors in chief of some of the main lifestyle titles about how they would seek out just 10 minutes of happiness to escape their daily anxieties. Though we allowed a budget of $100 to buy or do anything they wished, most of the editors thought time spent cost-free with loved ones provided the best relief. Here are some of the suggestions:

Maile Carpenter, editor in chief of The Food Network Magazine: “I’d mail-order myself a few pounds of pulled pork from Allen & Son Barbecue in Chapel Hill, N.C., and as soon as the FedEx truck arrived, I’d heat it up (takes two minutes), pile it onto a Wonder Bread bun (20 seconds), spoon some coleslaw on top (10 seconds) and eat it in about 2.5 minutes. I’d be instantly happy, with 5 minutes left to spare.”

Sally Lee, editor in chief of Ladies’ Home Journal: “I would donate it to CARE, a humanitarian organization that fights global poverty. If you need a psychological pick-me-up, then help someone in need. It will make you feel better about yourself and the world immediately.”

Linda Wells, editor in chief, Allure: “For happiness, I would buy about 10 logs of firewood, a copy of “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri or “The Boat” by Nam Le, hide the TV remotes and the video games, and light a match.”

Kristin van Ogtrop, managing editor, Real Simple: “I would buy a grande drip coffee from Starbucks (bonus: this lasts more than 10 minutes); a shoe shine at Eddie’s under Rock Center; “steal” 10 minutes of my workday time to watch YouTube at my desk when I should be doing something more productive but much less fun; buy the New York Post or People to read on Metro-North, instead of answering e-mails or reading proofs, or buy paper whites in a terra-cotta pot from Dahlia in Grand Central — they have just started selling them for the holidays, as they do every year. And they provide a couple of weeks of happiness.”

Susan Reed, editor, O, The Oprah Magazine: “I would buy the novel I most wanted to read — right now it’s “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski (incidentally, the book is an Oprah Book Club pick). I’d sit down in my living room, a beautiful, quiet place, and I would enjoy reading.”

Lucy Danziger, editor in chief, Self: “My favorite simple pleasure is absolutely free — being with my family (I call it “just us chickens” time). With a $100 budget, I’d get a frisbee, easily found for $15, and head to the beach with my two teenage kids, my fitness-minded husband and our collie/golden retriever mutt. Getting my circulation flowing refreshes me inside and out, and I just love being outside in the bright sunlight near the water as often as I can. I’d donate the remaining $85 to the Fresh Air Fund, one of my favorite charities.”

Alanna Fincke, editor in chief, Body + Soul: “The ultimate stress-free day for under $100:

• Take a power yoga class (there’s nothing better to get you balanced and centered).

• Do a DIY at-home facial (try kiwi, it’s exfoliating and smoothing).

• Get lost in a totally enveloping book (then take a nap — heaven!).

• Dinner at your house with good friends (check out “A Stress-Free Dinner Party” in our December issue for the perfect menu).

• Time to snuggle with your kids (a personal favorite!).”

Michael Boodro, editor in chief, Martha Stewart Living: “I would buy a cast-iron grill pan so I can cook dinners for friends. I want to get those elegant brown crisscross marks on meat and fish you always see in restaurants and magazine photo shoots.”

Rosemary Ellis, editor in chief, Good Housekeeping: “Whether I have 10 minutes, 10 hours or 10 days, my happiest and most precious moments are spent with my husband and daughter. It doesn’t cost a penny, yet it’s my most valuable gift.”

— Stephanie Smith

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