Holiday Playlist

Okay so we are a little holiday happy here on the blog but what can I say, I love it! And most of all I love the traditions and the warmth that seems to emanate from so many people during this time of year. I’ve put together a holiday playlist. In it you will find samplings of tracks perfect for the most romantic of winter nights and the coziest of Christmas mornings. Enjoy!

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How to Create a Winter Wonderland in Southern California

Unless you have the desire to trek up to the mountains for your shin dig or plan on renting a snow machine, hosting a White Christmas is probably not an option for your SoCal event. Don’t worry. Here are a few tips on how to transform your dinner/party/get together/whathaveyou into an event so full of winter your guests will hardly miss the snow.

The Main Attraction


fireplace bar by Bentleys Grill How to Create a Winter Wonderland in Southern California

If your event is small, consider a venue where a fireplace is one of the focal points. Intimate dinners are perfect for this. Grace the table with candles. Have a cozy sit-down dinner with the fire roaring in the background or set up bonfires and heaters throughout the venue for a larger crowd.

For the more elaborate parties, consider bringing ice into the mix. Depending on your budget and space, renting an ice rink might be just the unique, winter kick your event needs. Greet guests with warm hot chocolate and a pair of skates, then let them glide the rink or lounge in comfy chairs.

Ice Rink Eisbahn synthetic1 How to Create a Winter Wonderland in Southern California

If it’s space that’s an issue, go a little cheese-ball-tastic and rent out a human snow globe. Hire a photographer and make that your photobooth for the night.

For those who don’t have have a large budget or a large crowd, ice rinks and giant snow globes are too extreme. Instead, focus on decorations with a winter glow — jingle bells, garlands, sparkles, cool colors (silver, grey, white, plum, forest green, blue) and create that wintery atmosphere through lighting, smell (helloo cinnamon candles) and music.

Color Scheme
For color schemes consider more neutral tones such as white, gold, silver, cream, greys and perhaps jewel tones. The overall effect is winter — the classic white snow on tree tops, the sparkle of ice, the glow of Christmas lights — you get the idea.


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Events By Heather Ham Blog

Appeal to nature
Implement pine cones, garlands, holly wreaths and other forms of seasonal foliage to set the winter mood.

Call in the diamonds
In a perfect world, a winter wonderland is laden with tons of sparkling snow. Create the same effect with glitter, sparkles and diamond-like decor.

Never underestimate the power of lights. They can transform your event into a glowing, visual success. Wrap the patio in twisting streams of lights or drape them across open space dining areas.



Depending on budget, size of audience and mood, the food and beverage choices can differ greatly. Aim for “winter” treats like peppermint desserts, chocolate goodies, holiday cocktails and warm drinks. Here are some fun ones:

Silent Night Martini

silent night2 236x300 How to Create a Winter Wonderland in Southern California Winter Wonderland Martini
WinterWonderland 430x592 217x300 How to Create a Winter Wonderland in Southern California Spicy GingerMan
SpicyGingerMan 414x800 155x300 How to Create a Winter Wonderland in Southern California Candy Buffet

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Taking a page from the Hostess With The Mostess, create a winter candy buffet. Use glass mason jars or clear containers to display everyone’s favorite  treats. Purchase white and blue M&M color combinations, candy canes, brownies topped with white frosting and blue sprinkles, sparkling white and blue rock candy and other similar goodies to create a dessert table practically dripping with snow.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

peppermint hot chocolate cu1 211x300 How to Create a Winter Wonderland in Southern California At the end of the day it’s about what creates the best experience for your guests. Whether it’s an elaborate ice skating soiree or a simple, down-to-earth Secret Santa exchange, there are plenty of ways to bring winter into a 75-degree weather atmosphere.


Festive Holiday Desserts

Thanks to the world of food blogs and Pinterest, it isn’t too hard to find creative and beautiful confections conducive to jolly holiday parties. I’ve collected my favorites below:

Snowflake Cupcakes

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Make your traditional chocolate and white frosting dessert wintery using this simple recipe. Sprinkles and patience are all you need!

Peppermint Cake Pops

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Krazy Coupon Lady

The Krazy Coupon Lady guest writer Jody wrote her own take on this Starbucks favorite. Cake pops are easy on the eyes and palate, and it’s cheaper (and more fun) to make them yourself!

Cinnamon Roll Cake

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I love cinnamon rolls. I also love cake. So discovering this recipe was a present sent from baking Heaven. (Original recipe from Life as a Lofthouse.)

Snowball Cookies

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 My grandmother’s next-door-neighbor loved to bake. Every year we would get a large tin can full of her favorite baked goods, from chocolate chip cookies to peppermint goodies… and the “Snowball” cookie was one of my favorites! This easy-to-make dessert is well worth the powdered sugar mess!

Bourbon Baked Apples

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Healthy decadence… okay that’s a bit of an oxymoron. But this sweet treat does have fruit and nuts in it! Check out the details of this simple but utterly delightful recipe here.

Color Me Green

untitled Color Me Green Pantone (see palate above) officially announced Emerald Green as the 2013 Color of the Year. According to their page, emerald symbolizes “elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony.”

The color paints the mood for 2013. While Tangerine Tango (last year’s color) represented high energy and moving forward, Emerald Green is meant to evoke a sense of renewal, health, unity and prosperity. Green represents regeneration, an entirely appropriate shade in light of recent events in the U.S. (Presidential Election, Hurricane Sandy etc.)

Will 2013 live up to all that emerald green represents? Only time will tell. Plenty can be done in the event industry revolving around this theme. Follow the jump to see how green has been integrated in past events. (Hint: Heineken and Wizard of Oz)

Holiday Fun in the Inland Empire

As winter break nears, the holiday spirit seems to infect everyone. There are plenty of festive events happening as we close out 2012. Here are some of our top choices for the Inland Empire area:

1. Holiday Cookie Decorating Party at Fairplex

christmascookies1 230x300 Holiday Fun in the Inland Empire Join us at the Flower & Garden Pavilion this Thursday (Dec. 13) for an afternoon of cookies, frosting, sprinkles, hot chocolate, arts & crafts, games and fun!

Whether you decide to save your cookies for dessert with the family or to demolish them on the spot (by way of teeth and tummy), it is up to you.

Unleash the creative side of your brain and decorate a cookie and spend some time with the IE community over a cup of hot chocolate!


2. Mission Inn Festival of Lights

01 300x196 Holiday Fun in the Inland Empire

For the past 20 years, the owners of the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa have opened their holiday-eager arms to the community by way of lighting up their resort with over 3.6 million Christmas lights, opening an outdoor ice skating rink (available until Dec. 20), setting up a fully ornamented Christmas tree, bringing Santa Claus to the kids and unleashing the talents of Dickensian carolers.

3. Christmas In The Colonies
Those who grew up in Southern California might remember field trips to Riley’s Farm during the fall and spring months to learn all about log building, square dancing, apple picking and essentially being  transported into a world devoid of television, electricity and the comforts of modern day living. During the holiday season Riley’s Farm transforms into colonial Virginia with Christmas in the Colonies complete with a Christmas feast, carols and “old-school” dancing.

4. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. The Inland Empire is just minutes away from the snowy mountains! If you are so inclined, take the family up for a time of sledding, snowball fights, snowman building and for those who have  the skill, ski and snowboard before the short season comes to an end.

The past month has been full of Christmas and holiday celebrations, parades and festivals. If there are any you would like to give a shout-out to, just leave a comment below and we’ll add it to this post!

Event Industry News: 12/12/12, Twinstagram Wars, Office Holiday Party Trends, New Event App

Tis’ the season: Office holiday parties are just around the corner, if not taking off already. However, the economy is still the economy and some corporations are scaling back…or cancelling the event all together. BusinessWeek gave a report on trends for the traditional office party while Women’s Wear Daily just released the holiday plans of several magazines.

12.12.12. – A 1-hour documentary on the Marriott – with behind-the-scenes coverage of what goes into running a top-notch hotel (or a global hotel empire) debuts this Wednesday (12/12/12). Also happening on this epic day? One of the biggest concerts in history to raise funds to help with the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy, appropriately named: 121212Concert.

Event Tech: Conference and event app Topi launched last week. The latest in event technology is, like many other apps, about cohesiveness. Finding valuable business connections at conferences has never been easier. BizBash wrote a full synopsis about it.

Social Media: The Twitter vs. Instagram war continues. To catch up briefly, Instagram no longer allows Twitter to post pictures from the Instagram app. And Twitter refuses to allow Instagram to sync Twitter followers. Also, Twitter just released its’ 2012 Year in Review. And it’s awesome.

Fun and Fancy Free: 10 Best Ideas of the Week from BizBash commemorates some of the best and brightest creative minds in the event industry.

Oh, Los Angeles. Possibly the biggest event of the year for this city, the Academy Awards are just around the corner. The host? Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. Despite the crude and often plain offensive humor of the popular adult cartoon, MacFarlane plans to keep it classy.

Happy Holidays from Fairplex!

Twas’ three weeks before Christmas and all through the grounds
Every person was stirring and making their rounds
McKinley’s was sparkling with glitter and cheer
Fairplex festive decor was seen far and near…

large Happy Holidays from Fairplex!

large Happy Holidays from Fairplex!

large Happy Holidays from Fairplex!

large Happy Holidays from Fairplex!

large Happy Holidays from Fairplex!

large Happy Holidays from Fairplex!

Click on each photo for a closer look at our decor! McKinley’s Grille, Avalon and the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel and Conference Center are fully decorated and ready to welcome guests for the holiday season. For a glance at their beginnings follow the jump here and here.

10 tips for making your client happy

Fairplex is more than just the L.A. County Fair. The Sheraton Fairplex Hotel and Conference Center as well as several areas of the campus are utilized for events throughout the year, from conferences to trade shows, dinner parties to weddings.

I sat down with Beth Gallagher, director of food and beverage at Fairplex to ask what she does to ensure her clients the best event experience possible. Here are some of her most helpful tips:

1. Understand client expectations. What may seem like a small part of the event for you can be a stressful ordeal for the client. Know what your client’s priorities are and what they are worried about and attend each task accordingly.

2. Get the basic blueprint. During the initial conversation Beth makes sure to get basic information from the client before any detailed planning. How many people are attending, what time of day the event is and the nature of the event are all questions she gets answered before deciding what space would be most accommodating to them.

3. Uncover the details.This goes back to listening to clients. Sometimes a client won’t verbalize a clear picture of what they want or they just glaze over the details. Uncover their tastes and pick up on clues as you prepare to draft your proposal to them.

4. Customize, customize, customize. Not every hotel has the flexibility to do this, but at Fairplex, Beth makes it a top priority to customize the event packages, meals and venue as exactly to the client’s preferences as possible. Whether it’s lighting, color schemes or bringing in additional furniture or decor, try to make the event as unique to your client as possible. Make them feel like they matter.

5. Know your real estate. Sell your event space as real estate. “The zip code for one of our ballrooms on a Saturday night is the equivalent of Beverly Hills,” Beth said. The price per square foot is higher when the space is in demand. The price changes from day to day, season to season.

6. On decorating… Fairplex staff tries to meet all client needs as much as possible. This includes not only catering and lights but decorating the event space as well. Beth collaborates with her team and, based off the agenda and theme given to her by the clients, transforms the facilities into a space worthy of mention. “We evolve what we have into what they want,” Beth said. So far that has meant everything from a ballroom into a night club, an expo hall into an ice rink and a lawn into a jazz lounge.

7. Make sure your teams work well together–or at least get the job done. “We work like siblings,” Beth says. “Sometimes teams don’t agree on the way something should be done, but at the end of the day we have the same goal. Whatever we do, we make sure there is a constant line of communication.” Your client will be most happy when the job is done.

8. Be a perfectionist but know when to let go. The success is in the details. It’s important to care about the little things as well as see the big picture. At the same time it’s essential to know when to let something go. If you–the perfectionist event planner–are the only one who notices it, and your client and his/her guests are having a good time, just let it go.

9. Keep diversity (especially culture) in mind when it comes to food.When it comes to food the first thing to do is figure out how important it is to a client. In some cultures the quality of food is a way of displaying a client’s status. In other cultures it is the main form of showing hospitality. The bottom line is that realizing food preferences and level of importance differs with each client. See what works best for that particular scenario.

10. Know your venue’s strengths and capitalize on them. Fairplex and the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel and Conference Center excels in customizable space, high quality food and excellent customer service. The first thing Beth shows potential clients is the flexibility each space has. This can be anything from setting up a mock wine tasting to an elaborate table display during the initial visit.

Beth entered the event industry working for a small party rental company. Since then she has spent time working on sales and event operations for the Olympics, sports arenas throughout the nation and professional golf and tennis tournaments. She also owned her own catering company prior to joining the team at Fairplex.