It's done! I finished it Christmas night, so technically yes, I finished it by Christmas but not in time to gift. It fits Chip perfectly so it's his hat now.
I discovered that the extra stitch in the chart for the end of the round should not be added to the number of stitches you need to have before you start the stranding. That stitch should actually replace the last stitch in the chart to avoid the jog you get when switching colors and working in the round. DUH! I suppose I should have known that, but it really doesn't make it clear in the pattern.
Crown detail...be sure to secure your ends with a knot. When I soaked the hat and went to stretch it on my handy head sized mixing bowl the top of the hat started to unravel. I had only run the ends around the live stitches a couple times, and had not tied a knot.
The private side...
For the cap I used Fortissima Socka (washable, woo hoo!). I knit the facing on US size 0 and then switched to US size 1's for the stranding. My gauge was a little looser than the pattern called for, but that worked out well because the hat is a comfy fit!