I don’t entertain much. Wait, let me clarify that. I like to think I am quite entertaining, but what I mean is, I don’t host dinner parties and such. Mainly it’s because of our family’s schedule: we’re just so dang busy all the time.
When we do have friends over on those rare occasions, I try to do little things to make it memorable, like plan the food around a certain theme, make special music playlists, and other such things. New ideas are always good, though, and last week I got some great ones when I attended a lovely holiday event hosted by the 1800FLOWERS family of companies:
First? Okay, YUM. To all of that.
Let me tell you a little bit about the event. A bunch of us bloggers were invited to the 1800BASKETS headquarters, to check out their holiday offerings as well as to learn about some great holiday entertaining ideas from celebrity event planner and party expert Shawn Rabideau. The day was planned out for us as a tour through each of the different companies. We started out with breakfast and 1800FLOWERS in a conference room that was jam-packed with gorgeous baskets and a beautifully decorated table that offered candy samples and a tray of Shawn’s Cranberry Mimosa Twists. (Yum, again!)
After a welcome from the company and from Shawn, we headed into the 1800BASKETS design room, which, for me (a creative type), can only be described as equivalent to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Room. When we walked in, Michelle and I turned to each other and said–at the same time–“I want to work here!” (Jinx, you owe me a soda!)
…and then we were told that we would be assembling our own basket! Each of us got a basket, along with a supply of things to put inside. (The beautiful votive holder on the left was just a place card so each of us knew where our spot was!)
I learned that those super-annoying glue dots that are such a pain when you get a basket like this because they stick to EVERYTHING are actually (duh) very, very important in the assembly process. They don’t just keep everything together, but they are also helpful in positioning each element perfectly.
While we were in the design room, we learned about the holiday products available at Cheryl’s (best cookies ever) and the Popcorn Factory (yum), and Shawn talked about how, when decorating for a party, you can “shop at home” first: look through the stuff you already have before you buy new things! Repurposing stuff you already have is not only cheaper but usually adds more character than going out and buying things that are matchy-matchy. He also pointed out that many of the containers that come from 1800BASKETS, Cheryl’s, and the Popcorn Factory are great for repurposing!
Speaking of repurposing, check out this Celebrations.com video on how to turn a fall-themed wreath into one for the holidays, featuring Shawn Rabideau!
Next up at the event was decorating party tables. Shawn suggested doing a kids’ table with paper over the tablecloth, so they could color on it. Also, there is no need to use matching glasses and such: it’s more fun if there are different elements mixed up on the table!
Finally? Wine and cheese pairings by Winetastings.com, and then we learned about wine and CHOCOLATE pairings, with Fannie May! This nearly put me over the edge. By the way, if you’re not familiar with Fannie May, you should introduce yourself (heh). I highly recommend the Trinidads, for which I would do nearly anything, but all of their candy is so delicious. Their Holiday Mint Meltaways are tasty AND lovely: perfect for a party!
I feel compelled to note here, given the bad press that mommy bloggers have received over the past couple of years for supposedly being wine-swilling lushes, that many of the bloggers present did not choose to have any wine, and those who did, only enjoyed amounts that were appropriate for tasting with the cheeses and chocolate. Me? I did try a couple of sips of champagne (wow) with my brie. It was a great finish to a wonderfully fun and informational event.
I left there with a brain that was nearly exploding with new ideas and a desire to figure out when I can have some kind of party. I’m not sure when I’ll have time to have one, but I know that I’ll be using many of the things I learned from Shawn. If I need any other ideas, I can always go to Celebrations.com, which is a great website that is connected with the 1800FLOWERS companies and is full of ideas, recipes, and all kinds of other things party-related.
If you are in need of some great holiday gifts, check out all of these companies: you’re sure to find something for anyone on your list! Also, you can get 15% off with all of them by using the code SHAWN at all but Fannie May, where the discount code is 1225.
Thanks to everyone at 1800FLOWERS and family: I had a great time!
Disclosure: I was given parting gifts after the event, including the basket I assembled as well as a plethora of sample items from each of the companies in the family. There was no blogging requirement; I just wanted to share my experience!