Saturday, December 15, 2012

Entertaining at it's best - A complete (and fabulous) last minute gift guide

Entertaining for the holidays?  Here are some last minute ideas to use either when entertaining or to provide as thoughtful gifts for others.....


A great party begins with a great drink!  Torani has a cult following - this fun, gourmet product is most often spotted in coffee shops and upscale bars but you can also now increasingly find in numerous homes.  People want to bring the coffeehouse quality to their beverages brewed at home - be your own barista!

Torani offers syrups in over 120 flavors and are made with high quality ingredients such as cane sugar and natural flavoring!  What a great way to impress your guests! Torani flavored syrups are widely available at retail outlets - click HERE for info on where you can purchase Torani.

I received the Salted Caramel and Peppermint flavors for review. What a great way to perk up a regular cup of coffee!  The Salted Caramel was absolutely fantastic - just a little bit of Torani adds tremendous flavor, transforming an ordinary cup of coffee to a premium cup of coffee!    I have not tried the peppermint yet but am looking forward to pairing with my evening dessert coffee over the holiday.

 Not only is this a great option for your own home, but it would also make a fabulous gift for a hostess, co-worker, friend or family member. 

RECIPE:  I love cinnamon mochas - the cinnamon enhances the flavor of the chocolate.  For an extra kick, I add a sprinkle of chili powder, an ancient secret of the Mayans!

Cinnamon Mocha sweetened with Salted Caramel
2 cups of hot brewed coffee
1/2 cup of hot water
2 packages of hot chocolate
fat-free half and half cream to taste
3 Tablespoons Torani Salted Caramel
1 tsp of cinnamon
* for a hot and spicy kick, add a sprinkle of chili powder

Pour coffee and water over hot chocolate mix; add Torani Salted Caramel Syrup, cinnamon and cream. Pour into coffee mugs - serves 2.


Shari's Berries
What is a party without food?  The best part about parties are the wonderful hors d'oeuvres and appetizers.   Want to impress but don't have the time, will or skill to bake, cook and create elaborate culinary creations?  No worries - there are options...

Shari's Berries offers a wonderful array of gourmet goodies.  Make a statement with delicious and succulent berries that are decadently dipped in white, milk and/or dark chocolate and decorated with even more chocolate or another sinful topping.  For Christmas, we have a treat coming in the mail!  I have ordered these to arrive a couple of days before Christmas.  I have had Shari's Berries before and can vouch that they make quite an impression.

When my father-in-law passed away my parents wanted to send a fruit basket and had difficulty ordering from one of their preferred retailers.  My mother and I decided to place an order from Shari's Berries to send to my Mother in Law.  I was there when the package arrived and even with the complete sadness of the occasion, the berries were very much appreciate and were oohed and ahhed over quite a bit.  The dipped berries tasted as wonderful as they appeared.

I look forward to having these on a happier occasion when sharing at Christmas, which is also, coincidentally  DD's birthday.  When checking out I was given the option for an "add-on" to the order - items which are not available for general purchase but are available to add on when checking out.  I selected a cute "Happy Birthday Cookie" for Miss N.!

Whether serving these at your own home or ordering as a gift for another, these berries make an impression, both visually and on the palate :)   In addition to Berries, Shari's Berries  also offers other creative foods such as dipped apples, cake pops, cookies, cakes, gift baskets and more.  Coupon codes can be found HERE.


I always want the house to look the best when we have company.  If you are like me and you want to make great first impression, don't forget the dinner table!  For fun dinner place settings check out -   with the  DiPotter Paper Table Collection, you can truly transform your entire table.

The Vienna Dinner Set is stunning -these are wine glass shades that simply sit over the glass like a mini lamp shade.  Translucent and iridescent, with a silvery finish, these shades shimmer and glow when used over glasses filled with electric tea lights.  

The picture to the right is a crystal wine glass with a tealight and the Vienna Dinner wine glass shade but the photograph does not capture how beautiful these really are.

Easy to assemble, Beautiful to use, Easy to store.  The wine glass shades arrived in a flat package.   I removed the shades and they were easily put together with   They are really elegant and can really dress up a table.  What I love most is that these are reusable - simply insert the tabs into the slots to assemble into a cone shape.  When ready to put away, simply take she tabs out of the slots, then smooth and store flat in the original packaging.

At around $22 USD ($30 with the tea lights included), this is an inexpensive way to completely and elegantly transform a table.  Add a tablecloth and a floral centerpiece and create a authentic fine dining experience for your guests at a very affordable price.

Note:  only use LED or other flameless battery operated team life tea lights - there is a risk of fire using with a tea light that uses an actual flame.

Bridgewater Candles:
I love candles and have tried several brands, styles and scents.  What makes Bridgewater different?  In addition to filling your home with a lovely flickering light, one Bridgewater Jar Candle feeds 1 child for 1 day.

Made locally in the US, (Spartansburg, SC), not only are you supporting a charitable cause globally, you are also supporting American jobs. Look at some of the holiday offerings.  For review we received Dear Santa and Tree Trek in the 18 oz and 8 oz jar and travel tins.

Dear Santa, Mistletoe Wishes, Snow Day and Tree Trek are the newest offerings in Bridgewater’s holiday fragrances.

Dear Santa -A trail of sweet sugar and cinnamon ensues as the pitter patter and joyous laughter of little ones deliver a plate of freshly baked cookies and tall glass of milk.  This smells like caramel, cinnamon and butter.  Delicious!  My DD's favorite.

 Mistletoe Wishes - Peppery white berries bound with red ribbon dangle from above and signal it’s time to show a gesture of love.

Snow Day- A blanket of powdery white snow covers the ground as boot-bound feet leave tracks all around. Bundled up and ready to brave the cold for an adventure-filled day of sledding and all things snow. 

Tree Trek - The annual quest for the perfect holiday centerpiece is here and the trek begins amidst crisp, mountain air.    This smells like pine needles and sweet berries. 

$20 USD for the 18 oz version is comparable to other candles this size but the difference is that part of the proceeds from Bridgewater go to charity.  Total win!

Bridge water candles are also available in numerous other scents and in fragrance sprays, tea lights, reed diffusers and more.


At Holiday parties for kids and families it is fun for the adults to read to children.  In fact I am not sure who enjoys it more.  In addition to Christmas Classics, consider these new fun holiday stories to make your holiday party extra special:
In A Bit of Applause for Mrs, Claus the unsung hero of Christmas is finally revealed.  While Santa, the elves and reindeer tend to get all the glory, young readers will learn that the real action occurs behind the scenes, much like in real life.  "Behind every great man, there is a great woman" (or so the story goes)

 A very humorous and indirect accolade to all Moms at Christmas time.” Readers will be on the edge of their seats when they join Mrs. Claus as she hustles and bustles to save Christmas day. From wrapping the last presents to trimming the trees, Mrs. Claus, does it all, just in the nick of time.  Read it as you would "The Night Before Christmas" for extra fun......

Santa is Coming to My House is a great way to share a personalized Christmas Tales to local youth.   My version was Santa is Coming to the Carolinas.  Learn how Santa visits your neck of the woods during his long trek through the night.  Kids can watch him explore their favorite local landmarks, even with a wrong turn here or there.

 Read along as Santa navigates his way from the North Pole to a city, state or region near you! The series includes the following cities/states: Arizona, Boston, California, Chicago, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New England, New York, Ohio, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Texas, the Rockies, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Wisconsin.

One thing Santa always leaves for the girls is lip balm.  Like fun flavors?  I have always loved Chapstick.  I remember when the flavors expanded from original and cherry to include Strawberry.  Now Chapstick comes in a variety of formulations and flavors.  To help prevent and temporarily protect chafed, chapped or cracked lips, apply ChapStick® balm liberally as needed, particularly before sun exposure, dry, cold or wintery conditions

I was provided with 3 samples of new and special holiday flavors:
Candy Cane
Apple Cider
Chocolate Truffle.

All I can say is Yum!  I have three kids and knew that I did not stand a chance of keeping any of these.  Miss E. chose the Chocolate Truffle, Miss N. selected Candy Cane and Miss C. selected Apple Cider.  All three girls were thrilled and love their new ChapStick.  Miss N. said that the Candy Cane soothes and cools her lips :)

There is a convenient gift tag on the back of each package which makes it easy to label and gift.  Stick in a stocking or attach on top of a gift. ChapStick® seasonal varieties are available in the cough and cold aisle at food, drug and mass retailers for approximately $1.01-$1.99. *ChapStick® Chocolate Truffle can be found exclusively at Wal-Mart.

General Disclosure  -  Sponsored  I was provided with products from Torani, Shari's Berries (gift code), DiPotter, Bridgewater Candle, Source Books and Chapstick for review purposes.   These brands are not affiliated with one another and were included together as part of a holiday entertaining feature on   No monetary compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. 

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