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Holiday Entertaining Tips With Shawn Rabideau and 1-800-BASKETS

At GirlfriendCelebrations, we know you want ways to make entertaining easier so you can enjoy getting together with your girlfriends more often. That’s why we’re excited to share what we learned at the Home for the Holidays event hosted by 1-800-BASKETS and its family of companies, including 1-800-FLOWERS,, Fannie May Candies, Cheryl’s, The Popcorn Factory, and  The event featured celebrity event planner Shawn Rabideau of Shawn has appeared on on the Bravo TV’s reality series Bethenny Getting Married?, ABC’s Good Morning America and the Style Network’s Whose Wedding is it Anyway? In addition, he has contributed to many national television shows including  The Oprah Winfrey ShowThe Today Show, and The View.

What we really enjoyed about this event—aside from learning how to make a top-notch gift basket—was getting entertaining tips that help you make an impact when entertaining, without spending a fortune or needing special skills. Here are just a few:

Dashing Displays: Instead of buying new serving pieces for the holidays, focus on using—and reusing—pieces you already have for serving food in a more visually pleasing way. For example, display desserts on a “cake stand” made with plates and inverted rocks glasses. Or, use martini glasses to serve popcorn (or nuts) and suddenly these “ordinary” treats look a lot more special.

One Great Cocktail: Mixing up a signature cocktail for your girls night can make things a whole lot easier while giving your party a more festive air. Shawn shared his recipe for the Cranberry Mimosa Twist, pictured above. Find the recipe for this delicious sparkler right here.

Gracious Gift Baskets: At holiday time, many of us receive gift baskets, but we don’t know quite what to do with them. Well, girlfriends, those baskets are meant to be used! If you receive a gift basket from a friend, or even order one for yourself, be sure to display the contents. When arranged in small glass dishes on a pretty tray, for example, the contents of a goodie basket become an impressive offering at your holiday party. The basket itself can be reused in many ways, including lining it with plastic to make a decorative wine chiller. Read the rest of this entry »

Party for the Girls: Everything We Hoped and MORE

No cooking, no cleaning, no chores, no worries….that’s what our girlfriends enjoyed at our Party For the Girls weekend at the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel in Galena, Illinois. Along with Siobhainn O’Connor Van Santen from The O’Connor Show Irish radio program, we descended on this historic resort town for a fabulous late-winter getaway and girl, did we have a great time! Read on for our report, complete with pictures!

The Valley of Glendalough
The Valley of Glendalough


After a scenic 3-hour drive to Galena, we arrived at our hotel. When you enter the Irish Cottage, you are instantly transported to a more relaxing place! The hotel overlooks “The Valley of Glendalough” —a hilly countryside reminiscent of Ireland. The hotel’s common areas feature a cozy library fully stocked with books, and an attached pub that is “the beating heart of the hotel”—complete with Irish dancers and live entertainment. It’s always bustling!

Your charming hostesses, Siobhainn, Dawn and Tina
Your charming hostesses, Siobhainn, Dawn and Tina
We quickly set up in the lounge for our opening reception and shamrock hunt. This allowed us to welcome everyone, let them mingle and get a little silly looking for hidden shamrocks around the lounge and library. The two girls who found the most shamrocks won a beaded makeup bag and matching wristlet. We also took some fun girlfriend pictures to open the weekend. Guests picked up their (jam-packed) goodie bags, the agenda for the weekend, and their instructions for a weekend-long scavenger hunt. Then, we headed out for a family-style Italian dinner at Vinny Vanucchi’s in downtown Galena. Thinking we’d rather not drink and drive, we called for cabs, not knowing there are only two cabs in the whole city. The Party Girls definitely got to know each other better as we piled into our cabs —literally! Luckily, downtown Galena is only a two-minute drive from the Irish Cottage. Our dinner was fabulous and we left there completely stuffed. We headed back to the hotel (this time in the hotel’s shuttle van— much more comfortable) in order to hang out in the pub, listen to the live music and chat until late into the evening.

Psst! Like pictures? Check out our Whrrl from the event!

More check-ins at The Irish Cottage
Powered by Whrrl

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Party For the Girls Weekend Feb. 26-28 in Galena, Illinois

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all and enjoy some GIRL TIME—especially in the middle of winter—and that’s why we’re so excited to tell you about this very special girlfriend getaway weekend, February 26-28, 2010 at the charming Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel in Galena, Illinois. We’re proud to be hosting this event along with Siobhainn O’Connor VanSanten from the O’Connor Show Irish Radio Program. The time to book your room is NOW – so read on for ALL the girlfriendly details!

Girlfriends, you deserve a mid-winter getaway that offers EVERYTHING a girl needs to feel rejuvenated – cozy surroundings, gourmet food, fancy drinks, spa treatments, shopping, pampering, relaxation, and of course, girlfriends! Bring your mom, your sister, your daughter, your best friends. Read the rest of this entry »

Girls Like Makeup – Why Not Make it A Party?

A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to host an eyeslipsface (E.L.F.) Make Up At Home party with 20 of our gal pals. Here’s what we discovered: Girlfriends LOVE to play with makeup, no matter what their age! Why not try having a makeup-themed party for your next girls night?

Zee works her magic
Zee works her magic
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You’re Invited to the Black Friday Preview Twitter Party!

Hey girlfriends, you know, we love a good excuse to get together with our girlfriends, online or in real life.  And YES, sometimes this does involve shopping—especially for good deals! So, we were thrilled to be asked to co-host a “twitter party” on the evening of Friday, November 20, from 7 – 9 pm EST. Click here to read the official invitation, RSVP, and find out how to enter the first giveaway now simply by retweeting!

We’re so excited to be taking part in this one-of-a-kind twitter event! Using the hashtag #BFParty, we’ll be hanging out on twitter and enjoying:

  • Exclusive access to online discounts
  • Previews of Black Friday sales
  • DoorBuster Sales from your Favorite Retailers
  • Giveaways from American Express, Eli’s Cheesecake, Whole Foods and more!
Holiday cooking demonstrations, virtual wine tastings, holiday music, and great conversation will also be part of this fun event.

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Gratitude Challenge: The Easy One

Girlfriend-in-Chief Dawn here. My task for today (Day 3) in The Gratitude Challenge is to write a blog post about something I’m grateful for today in my life. Well, I’m finding this incredibly easy today. For the past few days I have been visiting the beach with my family. It’s fairly easy to be in a grateful state of mind when you’re away from housework, schedules, and real life. It generally takes me three or four days into vacation to truly relax (just in time to go back home). I personally never seem to schedule enough down time into my busy life, but I always feel better when I do. Vacations are great for remembering what is really important, and what isn’t. As we watched the waves crashing into the shore, my husband reminded us that no matter what happens — who wins the big game, who gets the client, what the test score is — the waves will keep crashing into this shore.

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Gratitude Challenge Today – Tina

Girlfriend-in-Chief Tina here. Since I’ve had more than enough time to contemplate the Gratitude Challenge

Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.
today and something that I am grateful for, my list of things to be thankful for is growing by leaps and bounds. But that is what a total of
five hours and twenty-one minutes to be exact, driving alone in the car post-vacation will give you. Lots and lots of time to think.

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Taking Note and Giving Thanks: The Gratitude Challenge

Turn your attention to something, and it grows. The Girlfriends-in-Chief can certainly attest to this little truth. Over the past year, we’ve turned our attention (more than ever before) to GirlfriendCelebrations on and offline. And GIRL, have we grown! Opportunities online and offline have grown for us by leaps and bounds. Our girlfriend circle has grown by a bunch. We feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities—and the fun—that have come our way lately. So, when we were asked to join The Gratitude Challenge with 11 other bloggers, we were both honored and thrilled.

Photo via flickr
Photo via flickr

You see, the theme behind The Gratitude Challenge, “Take Note and Give Thanks,” is really in harmony with what we are trying to do here every day. We truly believe that Girlfriends Make Life Better™, and we recognize that you have to pay attention to your girlfriendships to help them grow. Not only do you have to take note of what your female friends add to your life, you need to act on it (by scheduling fun and meaningful times together) to strengthen your friendships and improve your lives. At least that’s our theory. We’ve also written about ways girlfriends can explore gratitude together.

So anyway, both of us have signed a pledge to take part in The Gratitude Challenge for the next 21 days. As part of our pledge, we’ve promised to ” take note of life’s little blessings and give thanks for the relationships, experiences and opportunities that make [our] life unique.” As part of this challenge, you’ll be seeing posts from both of us on the concept of gratitude. This could get personal! Are you with us? We’d love to hear from you, girlfriends, on what you’re grateful for—and we hope you start with your girlfriends. Remember, what you put your attention on grows. Let’s all grow something good together. Read the rest of this entry »

A Snappy Combo: Girlfriends and Shopping!

We came, we saw, we shopped: GirlfriendCelebrations recently partnered with Liz Claiborne New York and Carson Pirie Scott for a Personal Style Event for some of our fashion-forward girlfriends! This early morning event was a great way to squeeze in a little girlfriend time before the Saturday rush. Here’s how it turned out:

The invitation-only event was scheduled before store opening, so our girlfriends had to get up early. But, they were greeted at the door with festive pink punch in champagne glasses, and had the chance to explore the new Liz fashions and chat over coffee and a light breakfast. (Besides, the colors of the Liz Claiborne New York summer line will wake anyone up!) We heard from many girlfriends how excited they were to be out of the house and doing something girl-friendly on a Saturday morning! Gift bags were waiting on each chair along an informal runway. In the bag: A silk Liz Claiborne New York logo scarf, “Miz Claiborne LizRahi” t-shirt, LCNY mouse pad, chocolate, bottled water, Carson’s coupons, a pen, and a program for the fashion show. Carson’s associates modeled the summer fashions, with Liz Claiborne’s Joanie Ackerman as the enthusiastic emcee offering styling tips. The “real” models did a fabulous job, and our girlfriends must have liked what they saw, because the shopping quickly ensued. This black crochet dress, in particular, flew off the racks. So many of our girlfriends bought that dress, we are going to have to make a schedule of who gets to wear it where and when! In addition, our girlfriends received beautiful gifts with purchases of a certain amount, as well as “keeper” garment bags to take their clothes home. Bonus!

Carson’s also raffled off some beautiful LCNY bags, an Estee Lauder gift set, and a Carson’s gift card. Congratulations to the lucky winners!! Thank you to the team at Carson’s Yorktown and Liz Claiborne New York for making our girlfriends feel welcome. They clearly share our philosophy that Girlfriends Make Life Better!™ This email from our girlfriend Jill, after the event, says it all:

“I just wanted to say thanks for a great Saturday morning at the 7/18 fashion event. It was so nice to get some fashion ideas that were both fun and realistic! A small step for a decidedly non-fashionista…but it made me remember how much fun it is to shop with girlfriends.  I actually feel inspired to go through my closet, and try a little harder…”

Fun, food, fashion, inspiration, girlfriends (and shopping) – what a great way to start your Saturday. Thanks to all who joined us! Read the rest of this entry »

Girls Night Out for Charity at Juvenesse Spa

Girlfriends love to spa—and when they can spa for charity, they feel even better! We recently had the pleasure of hosting, along with, a Girls Night Out for Charity at Juvenesse Spa in Chicago. It was a fantastic evening for girlfriends to network in the tranquil environs of Juvenesse, a hidden gem in the River North neighborhood. All proceeds from the event benefited Peace Journey, a charity started by spa owner Jeannette Kravitz. Girlfriends attending the event enjoyed complimentary champagne, a fabulous spread of hors d’oeuvres, and two mini spa services, ranging among chair massage, eye zone therapy, and makeup application.

In addition to receiving a $25 gift card for a future visit to Juvenesse, spa samples, and discounts from Juvenesse, girlfriends also received a bag full of swag thanks to our fabulous sponsors! In the bag:

The Wildwater Walking Club, a new novel by Claire Cook from Hyperion Books and Voice. This novel, about a woman who has to figure out what she wants out of her life after some bumps in the road, follows three women as they begin to find a new path. Great summer reading! Our guests each received a hardcover edition. For more about the book, click here.

The Art of the Apology by Lauren Bloom. This book by a business ethics expert teaches how to apologize effectively to practically anyone. Since a sincere apology is an essential friendship skill, we were happy to have this book in our swag bag!

Conversation Confetti from Chicago-based always a girls girl.  This package of 20+ cards with talk-about-it questions and scenarios gets your guests mingling! Get a conversation confetti FREE when you purchase a conversation tin from always a girl’s girl using the code “Girlfriend Celebrations”!

PakNaks These decorative accessories transform plain backpacks, bags and other stuff into personalized, ever-changing, colorful works of art. Over 40 adorable peel-and-stick designs are available. We can totally see using these to brighten up a summer tote bag. And there’s no ironing, sewing or pinning! PakNaks has a special offer for GirlfriendCelebrations readers: Receive 20% OFF your order with the code “PAK20″!

Discount card from Tunix - the site for chic, American-made tunics perfect for beach, resort, or lunch with the girlfriends!

“Piggy” wine charm and recipe book from the National Pork Board 

GirlfriendCelebrations bookmark

M&Ms also supported this great event. Have you tried M&Ms Premiums? We tried the Raspberry Almond flavor and they are quite the delicious little splurge. 
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