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

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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

snowflakecupcake 214x300 Festive Holiday Desserts

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.

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.

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.

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:

IMG 4921 300x198 Tis the season!

Bins of holiday decor await their fate

IMG 4944 200x300 Tis the season!

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!