Valentine's Day Gift Trends

And now everyone…let me show you how to spoil all your Valentines this February 14th.

Every year it sneaks up on us after the holidays…and here it is again!

I will take the guess work out of your Valentine’s shopping – for young, for old, for her, for him, for everyone!

Today I have brought all of Chicago’s hottest new products – from all over the city – to make your Valentine’s Day gifts this year…red hot!

Flowers, the favorite gift to give this holiday, and ever so lovely to receive, have specific meanings going back thousands of years.  (this holiday is the busiest of the entire year for florists, so call, email or come in to place your order early!)

Choose wisely, and thoughtfully, as the meaning of a flower that you give as a gift should:
–    symbolize what you want the gift to say (thinking of you, I love you, luck)
–    embrace the favorite colors or flowers of the your sweetheart

GARDENIA: You’re lovely

LILY, WHITE: It’s heavenly to be with you

ORCHID: Rare beauty

PEONY: Happy life, happy marriage

If flowers don’t have the right meaning for your gift giving this holiday, then here are the next best – sweet treats:

Heavenly Chicago made truffles and mini valentine’s 3 tiered cookie cakes painted in pinks from chicagogourmet.com are my favorite gourmet, gorgeou chocolates to give anytime of year.

From younger gourmands…the city’s best cupcakes are from Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique – and adorned with everyone’s favorite valentine’s candy conversation hearts – you can again choose wisely with the perfect message to your petite sweetheart.

A kitchen valentine is easily given with a Red Gourmet Gift set from pamperedchef.com – to include heart shaped red bowls, red windowpane placemats, red kitchen handtowels, and all around the best cooking gadgets in the city.

And my favorite holiday gift to give – perfect for your husband or wife – is having Chef Chris from My Private Chef in your kitchen, cooking a private dinner for two while you pop open the champagne and sample his fabulous hors’douevres as he does all the cooking.  $450 includes shopping, setting the table, preparing and serving the meal, and best of all clean up!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!

Super Bowl Parties

How to throw a Super
Superbowl Party this weekend!

Its not too late to
plan a blowout Super Bowl Bash this weekend – we have the “winning” party
planning details for a sure fire touchdown with friends, family and
neighbors.

A football themed party
is easy – because the game is the focus – not the menu.

A typical Superbowl
menu is all the sinful snacks we love and long for…wings, nachos, and so more.
I am going to show you how to easily spice up your décor and football food
standards as well as some new, healthy East Coast team inspired
favorites.

Invitations –

Catch this!  Using a
foam footballs in the team colors (we found ours for $1 in the dollar section at Target, and they are event in Pat’s and Giant’s colors!) – write the party
details on each in permanent black marker to include who, what, where and
when.   Place the football invitation into a “green grass turf” filled box using
green paper shred.  We found perfect boxes for mailing at Container Store – for
the finishing touch on a unique and “repurposed” invitation – that can be used
to play with throughout the year!

 

Décor –

My favorite Superbowl
detail is to create a Football Field linen by adding yard lines and markers to a
simple green linen (this is from BBJLinen) with white tape and white vinyl
numbers from an office supply store.  We even added the team pennants to create
end zones!  It sets the tone for the theme and creates a gorgeous centerpiece on
your table.

 

Centerpiece –

Taking wheatgrass
flats, we made pennants for both teams, using clipart on the internet and our
color printer.  We cut and mounted them to green floral pics, available at
florists and craft stores.  Tucked into the grass, with the addition of a few
footballs, you have a centerpiece without needing any professional floral
design.

For a finishing touch of Superbowl decor, we added hints of red and blue sports “cowbells” among the  bar and buffet (also from dollar section at Target in RED and BLUE – stroke of luck!) as well as matching foam footballs and red and blue pom poms.  Not only are these perfect decorative touches – but they are interactive – guests will love cheering with them during the big game.

 

Specialty Cocktail –

Touchdown tinis – in
New England Patriot Red and New York Giant Blue – there is a team favorite for
every guest.

The Patriot-tini
combines 360 Vodka with Pomegranate Cider, topped with a New England Patriots custom
straw.  To create the straw, we printed the logo with a color printer to be 1/2″ high by 3″ long, and used
double sided tape to glue the banners onto blue straws.

The Giant-tini combines Blue Hawaiian Cocktails by Jenn, with a New York Giants straw.

 

East Coast Microbrew
Bar –

New
England’s famous Sam Adams is
a winning brew to feature – and comes in great styles – Winter Lager, Boston
Lager, Cherry Wheat, and more.

 

Menu

It is fun to put a new
twist on old favorites – and I love a menu that nods to the East Cost region of
the teams.  Here we created a Soup Bar – with three different hearty winter
soups – for you to serve with toppings for make your own soup tastings.  A New
England Clam Chowder, hearty winter chili, and Blue Cheese with Bacon round of the
delicious options.  These are from Southport Grocery – my favorite restaurant in Lakeview – and are available for carry-out anytime.  This shows – even
last minute you can carry out from your favorite restaurants and have your
friends over to watch the game.

And of course we also
have some clear football favorites – Giant Nachos, Wings, Chips and
Dips (the Spinach and Artichoke dip at Southport Grocery is TO DIE FOR and is always a surefit hit at my parties.

Dessert –

Last, but never least,
we have Giant and Patriot cupcakes – again customized with miniature 2″ pennants
ontop of each cake.  These are from Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique – with flavors
like Chocolate Caramel, Orange Dreamsicle, Lemon Coconut and so many
more!

Game –

The squares game is a great way to keep everyone interested in the game.  Especially those guests who aren’t big football fans!

Coach Ditka’s fantasy sports site, http://www.ditkasports.com, let’s you manage your squares game online, and keep track of whose squares are winning – throughout the entire Super Bowl.

 

 

Favors –

My new favorite “to go” favor bar is the popcorn bar.  Stacy brought this to us from LA, and it is fabulous!  I love using 4-6 flavors in oversize glass jars, with old fashioned scoops to fill up your take out box containers.  We made custom labels for our take out boxes, celebrating the occassion and making a fun keepsake for friends and family.

The top selling popcorn flavor by FAR at all of our popcorn bar parties is Mrs. Pure’s Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn.  It is so delish – you have to try it.  Other favorites are caramel corn, Macadamia Nut Caramel Corn, White Cheddar, and so many more.

Hut…hut…hike!  It’s time to invite your friends and family over and cheer on your team for 2008.