For a unique holiday (or any time) bite, chef Todd Webster of Miami's Front Porch Cafe recommends tostones -- thick slices of flattened, fried green plantain topped with pulled pork (or pulled duck or dark turkey meat) and pico de gallo. (305) 531-8300; frontporchoceandrive.com
Dress up deviled eggs with ahi tuna, bacon and black truffle vinaigrette for an unexpected burst of flavor. The recipe is a favorite of John Howie, chef at the two Seattle-area Seastar Restaurants and Raw Bars (seastarrestaurant.com) and author of Passion & Palate: Recipes for a Generous Table.
Graham Harrop, a cartoonist for the Vancouver Sun, creates humorous custom cartoons for groups that can be used during meeting presentations or imprinted on giveaways. McDonalds is among the firms he's done work for. Cost for an original color cartoon: $350. grahamharrop.com
If you took great pains to ensure the food at your event was locally sourced, organic or met another high standard, make sure your guests know about it. Shannon Nelligan, CMP, senior marketing manager for CableFAX and Communications Technology, displays cards on dining and buffet tables with interesting tidbits about menu items.
Transform a humble pumpkin into a season-themed drink cooler or punch bowl. Take a large pumpkin (ours measured about 36 inches around the widest point); using a serrated knife, cut off the top and remove the pulp. Use the same knife to shave down the edges and place a glass bowl or two-gallon Ziploc bag inside as a liner.
With helium prices and availability at a premium, consider air-filled (read: blown up by you and your staff) balloons as an inexpensive alternative. Creative Balloons Manufacturing Co.'s E-Z balloon sticks and cups hold air-filled foil and latex balloons in an upright position, eliminating the tedious task of tying each balloon. Cost: about $22 for 250 sticks and cups (cost varies depending on retail location). (800) 538-5800; creativeballoonsmfg.com
Beautiful leather-bound notebooks are always a welcome gift, especially when they're eco-friendly. Paperthinks' memo notebooks are made from 100 percent recycled leather scraps. Available in eight colors. Cost: $19 each.(800) 809-9880; Katespaperie.com
Wineawesomeness.com offers a great selection of carefully curated small-batch wines. Here's the kicker: 50 percent of all bulk sparkling wine sales goes to its designated charity (one is chosen every quarter) through partner Champagne for a Cause. Wine Awesomeness will also donate to your specified charity for large bulk sparkling wine purchases; contact the company for details. wineawesomeness.com
When purchasing holiday cards, consider brands that donate a portion to charity. Check local stationary shops, like Cincinnati-based We Are Creative Invites and Events (creativeinvitesandevents.com), which offers holiday cards that benefit local charities. Nothing local? Find card and invitation options at cardsthatgive.org, goodcausegreetings.com and cardsforcauses.com.
Buy a gift or services from one of the hundreds of merchants (from 1-800-FLOWERS.com to HotWire.com) who participate in We-care.com, and a percentage will be donated to a cause of your choice (choose from more than 2,000 charities or add your own). The site even will track your purchases so you can watch your donations add up.
Placetile's simple-yet-chic ceramic menu boards and place cards work with any dry-erase marker for easy reuse. The Plain Jane MenuTile, pictured, costs $29.99. (678) 467-4776; placetile.com
SoundGecko.com, a free website/app, converts written text to spoken word in an mp3 format, perfect for catching up on your favorite newspapers and blogs while in the car or anytime that reading is a challenge. soundgecko.com