FOOD NEWS: World’s Largest Gingerbread House

They say “everything’s bigger in Texas” so it’s no surprise that the world’s largest gingerbread house calls the Lone Star state it’s home.

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Using 3,000 pounds of brown sugar, 7,200 eggs, 22,304 pieces of candy and a literal ton of butter, the Texas A&M Traditions Club along with the community of Byron, Texas created a pad sweeter than any other in the world. And yes, the exterior is entirely covered in gingerbread and icing. This gingerbread giant is measured at 39,201-cubic-feet, beating the former Guinness World Record giant at the Mall of America by several thousand feet.

In true holiday spirit, the house was built as a charity event to fund a new facility for the St. Joseph’s Hospital’s trauma program. They have raised more than 150k from the 600 daily customers.

The house is roped off so that those with an insatiable taste for adventure don’t pull a Hansel and Gretel and grab a piece for their own eating pleasure.

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.

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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

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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.

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

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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!

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.

Tis’ the season (Part Two!)

IMG 5025 Tis the season (Part Two!) A couple weeks ago we showed you some of our Christmas and holiday preparations. As December gets closer and closer Fairplex gets merrier and merrier. We may not have that fresh powdered snow (we are in Southern California, after all) but that doesn’t stop us from decking the expo halls from head to toe. A Charlie Brown Christmas tree affair we are not.

Check out what’s new in Building 8!

IMG 5020 Tis the season (Part Two!) Does this old-fashioned Ford look familiar? You might have seen him and his brothers hanging out in the GENIUS exhibit during the Fair.

IMG 5022 Tis the season (Part Two!) Christmas presents rest on the car’s front seats. Are they for decoration or are there some real goodies inside?

IMG 5009 Tis the season (Part Two!) Those who visited the GENIUS exhibit during Fairtime will remember that it was Benjamin Franklin who helped develop the United States Postal Service. As the heat of summer is long gone, the exhibit has transformed into a bit of a Winter Wonderland.

IMG 5018 Tis the season (Part Two!) Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one Santa Clauses gracing the Fairplex grounds. We plan to count exactly how many are bringing the holiday spirit to all the buildings. (We’ve counted at least 4 so far!)

IMG 5028 Tis the season (Part Two!) Lining the walls of the building are Christmas trees, toys, books, snowmen, reindeer and lots of snow. Lights are being strung up and the last of the Christmas boxes are lined up, ready to be unpacked. Check in next week to see the final product!


A little holiday magic in Los Angeles

1 icerinksamo A little holiday magic in Los Angeles

Photo by

Well, “winter” is fast approaching in Southern California. We might even see some drizzle or something. While some L.A. lokes are lucky enough to escape to the mountains for a couple weeks of White Christmas, the rest of us are stuck in the smog-covered glory we like to call Los Angeles. And that means traffic. And crowds of people in every mall, restaurant, grocery store and other places we need to be to throw our holiday parties.

Don’t think this is a negative blog post though! In fact, our friends at LAist just released their top three picks on where to find a little winter fun with their top ice skating spots in the city. Parties don’t have to be confined to ballrooms, bars and homes. Why not move your guests to the ice?

Follow the jump to check out some prime locations for a little winter fun. Click.

Also from LAist: Up your holiday hosting game with one of their suggested classes. No one will accuse you of making bad food or decorating poorly. Start being awesome.

Event News: Holiday parties are back on, social media is still popular and Los Angeles caviar has a new flair

IMG 4931 300x199 Event News: Holiday parties are back on, social media is still popular and Los Angeles caviar has a new flairThe holiday season is officially in motion with the celebration of Thanksgiving ending and Christmas music playing on the radio. While some may be looking forward to a couple weeks off work the event industry is busier than ever, from corporate parties to New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Regarding the holidays: According to an article from BizBash, holiday corporate parties are on the rise again, thanks to a more stable economy. However, over-the-top events are going out of style as many businesses focus on community and charity rather than topping the flashiest event.

Social Media: Use of social media in the event industry has nearly doubled within a two-year time frame according to a recent world-wide survey by the Site International Foundation. BizBash just wrote about Moment Studio, a “newsroom” used to create Facebook posts that go viral based on real-time online happenings. Pepsi is one of the first companies to jump on this train.

Keeping it local: Earlier this year Sprinkles Cupcake made headlines with their bright pink ATM machine at their Beverly Hills location. Following in the “order-to-go” trend is Beverly Hills Caviar, offering their dishes in vending machines.  A couple weeks ago we touched on the extravagant premiere parties and preparations made for the Breaking Dawn screenings… here’s what happened.

Tis’ the season!

IMG 4913 300x200 Tis the season!It seems that as soon as the skeletons get put back in the closet, the holiday season explodes in the malls, Disneyland, Walmart and yes… here at Fairplex as well.

Preparations are well under way to welcome in Santa, “snow” and holiday parties both at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center as well as on grounds. What was once a massive playground of rides, games and food is being transformed into a winter wonderland. Every year the creative team outdoes themselves in decorating our spacious exhibit halls and the hotel into festive, wintery venues of holiday cheer. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what we have going:

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Bins of holiday decor await their fate

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Bins of holiday decor await their fate

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Which tree will these ornaments go on?

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Frosty the Snowman -- minus the face, hat, scarf and arms... and buttons

IMG 49557 300x200 Tis the season!I can’t wait to take a full tour of the grounds and show you exactly what is going on behind all the closed doors. Just walking through the Tapestry building, with the creative team bustling with their preparations, a Michael Buble Christmas tune in the air and dozens upon dozen of decorations filling every nook and cranny, it’s hard not to get in the holiday spirit.

Looking forward to what Fairplex will look like in December!

We’re Quilting at Fairplex – “Bee” There

If you’re a quilter now or you wish you knew how, get on over to the Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival. You’ll find products, workshops and seminars on quilting, needle arts, punch embroidery, iron-on metals, crystals, beading, cross-stitch, knitting, sewing and more. One popular class: “Less Than Traditional” quilting Charlie’s Way, which promises to make quilting quicker and easier than ever before. quilt making 200x300 We’re Quilting at Fairplex – “Bee” There

Your ticket is good for all three days so take your time, come back each day of the festival so you don’t miss any learning opportunities. Visit for a show brochure listing all exhibitors, classes and locations. There’s a $1 off coupon on the site also.

Thursday, Oct. 9 – Saturday, Oct. 11, Fairplex 5. Admission is $8 for adults (good for all three daquilts 300x197 We’re Quilting at Fairplex – “Bee” Thereys). Park at Gate 17. 







When you’re all sewed out, head to Fairplex 8 for the Sugar Plum Arts & Crafts Festival. This one’s a FREEBIE! It’s a frightfully delightful shopping adventure, with all things Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, all in one place.

Friday (10 a.m. - 8 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) Oct. 10 & 11. 

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Still not tired? There’s a home improvement and remodeling show, too. It’s free. It’s in Fairplex 4, Friday, Oct. 10 (2 p.m. – 7 p.m.), Saturday, Oct. 11 (10 a.m. – 7 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.).