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Friday, December 10, 2010

Home for the Holidays Extravaganza

A few weeks ago I received an invitation for a Home for the Holidays Extravaganza at the 1800Baskets.com Design PAC.

Well, I love an extravaganza of any type so I was immediately excited!

Then I saw that Shawn Rabideau, event designer extraordinaire and Bethenny Frankel's wedding planner, would be hosting the event and I was IN! Love him, love Bethenny, love extravaganzas.

So last week Little Ricky and I headed to Melrose Park IL for the event.

(Can I just say how much I love events that provide childcare? Not having to find a sitter, especially around the holidays, rocks my world. And Little Ricky had an awesome time playing with the other kids and eating pizza. I'm sure he's hoping he gets to come to more blogger events too!)

When we arrived at the 1.800.Baskets DesignPAC, Little Ricky was whisked off to the kids area and I was handed a delicious Cranberry Mimosa Twist and ushered into the gift basket-making area of the facility.

OH MY GOSH! This place is amazing.

Aisles upon aisles of chocolates and coffees and wines and cheeses and crackers and...and...and...

Any delicious thing you'd ever want in a gift basket, they've got it!

Here along with lots of other cool Chicago bloggers, I learned all about the basket making process. In fact, we all got to make our own gift baskets to take home with us at the end of the day.

After the great folks at 1800Baskets.com taught us some basket making techniques, Shawn talked a little bit about decorating ideas using some of the items from our gift baskets.

Display Cheryl's Cookies in decorative Christmas balls

Use The Popcorn Factory's cute popcorn balls as decorations.

Look at this cute wreath made out of cookies!

Then we heard from representatives from The Popcorn Factory and Cheryl's Cookies. The Popcorn Factory offers adorable holiday tins full of the all sorts of yummy popcorn flavors (I especially love the cranberry flavored popcorn!) And I knew I was going to be a Cheryl's Cookies fan when the rep started her talk with "At Cheryl's we dream in butter cream."

Amen, sister, amen.

(P.S. Those are Cheryl's cookies in the wreath pictured above.)

After learning more about the gift baskets and some of the yummy items that you can get in them, we moved to the kitchen where we discussed wine and cheese pairings followed by wine and chocolate pairings. I skipped the wine as I'd be driving, but I didn't feel like I was missing out too badly, because the cheeses and chocolates were amazing!

While we were sampling all of this deliciousness, reps from Fannie May Chocolates and winetasting.com were telling us more about their products and how to pair them.

Did you know that your wine should be less sweet than the dessert/chocolate your pairing it with? But if your dessert is a lot sweeter than your wine it will make the wine taste off. So less sweet, but only by a little!

(I must admit that I tend to buy my wine based on how pretty the labels on the bottles are so I got a little lost during some of the wine talk!)

While in the kitchen area, Shawn Rabideau talked to us a little more about party planning and hosting. Several times he mentioned using things we already own. You don't have to go out and buy all matching china or napkin rings. Mix and match. Find things around the house that can be re-purposed. Use some of the decorative items off of your 1800baskets.com gift.

He made this cookie stand using 3 different sized plates and small drinking glasses.

Here Shawn describes 2 beautiful tables he decorated using everyday items. They were both lovely, but I especially liked the silver table.

My china is very similar to the china he used so I could totally pull this off.

And see the jingle bell napkin rings? He made those from the decorations off of a gift basket. Smart.

When the event ended, everyone mingled and munched a bit more. It was so nice having time to chat with some of my favorite Chicago bloggers.

And of course I was delighted to chit chat with Shawn Rabideau who is just as nice as he is talented!

As we all left, we were given wonderful goodies--our gift baskets that we had made, Cheryl's Cookies, popcorn and popcorn ball kits from The Popcorn Factory, wine from winetasting.com, recipes from Shawn, Fannie May chocolates. Whew--I'm gaining weight just typing that!

And if you are in need of delicious treats for holiday gifts, I can not say enough nice things about these companies and their products. Yum, yum, yum!!!! And you can get 15% off using the following promo codes!

- Promo Code = SHAWN

1-800-Baskets.com - Promo Code = SHAWN

Cheryl’s - Promo Code = SHAWN

The Popcorn Factory - Promo Code = SHAWN

Winetasting.com - Promo Code = SHAWN

Fannie May - Promo Code = 1225

Disclosure: I was given all of the yummy treats pictured above and treated like royalty at this event. But there was no expectation of me writing about it and all opinions are my own.

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