Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Sharing the spoils from my 1-800-Baskets event

The secret is glue dots. And beautiful lighting.
A week ago today I was at 1-800-Baskets headquarters in Melrose Park, glue-dotting together a gift basket, sipping wine and tasting gourmet cheeses and chocolates at their Home for the Holidays event for bloggers. I knew that 1-800-Baskets was a part of the 1-800-Flowers empire, but I had no idea the company owned so many "gift-giving" brands: Cheryl's cookies, Fannie May, The Popcorn Factory and Winetasting.com. They also own Celebrations.com, a content site dedicated to party-throwing (appropriate, given their brand mix).

I would have been delighted to indulge in a midday wine and cheese tasting with Vanessa, Farrah and Kim, but the event managed to squeeze a few inspirational gems (mostly from their resident party expert Shawn Rabideau) alongside the more expected brand familiarization bits. I was cheered to see a category I'd long associated with excess packaging encouraging consumers to reuse and repurpose its cookie boxes, gift baskets and ribbons. They even nodded to the frugal bloggers in the audience by suggesting we buy a gift tower and separating the boxes for individual gift giving, but I can think of more creative and budget-friendly ways to save money. My favorite tips were Shawn's suggestions to create a tiered tray using 3 different-sized plates and 2 rocks glasses and decorate with twigs, berries and pinecones. I may try that at my New Year's Brunch.

1-800-Baskets sent us home with two tote bags full of goodies, and I've been doing my best this week to spread the love around. I gave a Popcorn Factory tin to the staff at our Montessori school (in addition to a check for the annual staff gift fund). My neighbors had us over for dinner and I brought the Popcorn Factory's popcorn ball decorating kit for the 5 kids to play with and devour while the adults finished a bottle of wine and put away Josh's indulgent sticky toffee pudding.
Happily gluing on candy with frosting

Today I brought the gift basket I assembled myself (pictured above) to work for my colleagues to enjoy. Had we not made a team outing to Christkindlmarkt for lunch, I think it would have disappeared more rapidly. As it stands, I give it 3 days, max. All that's left of my spoils is a box of Fannie May Mint Meltaways, and as sorely tempted as I am to eat them all by myself, while knitting and watching The Walking Dead (okay, not really, it's on hiatus now), I think I'll save it for a hostess gift.
Who likes hot, spiced wine in a boot? 

Disclosure: I was invited to the 1-800-Baskets event and received free product samples. I was not asked or paid to write about my experience.  My opinions are my own. You can save 15% at all of the companies I linked to with the code SHAWN (except Fannie May--their code is 1225).