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Seven Holiday Splurges to Blow Your Bonus On

The lobby at Meadowood in St. Helena, at Christmastime.

Maybe you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse you'd like to surprise this holiday season with a lavish overnight getaway to Napa, or maybe you've got a bonus check coming and you've been dying to check out one of the many event dinners that happen around the Bay, especially this time of year, that you couldn't normally afford. Whatever the case, we have some suggestions for those of you looking to do it up big next month.

Meadowood's 12 Days of Christmas

It's the sixth year for this annual blowout of a dozen guest-chef dinners at Napa's premiere resort. The Michelin three-star Restaurant at Meadowood is incomparably the North Bay's best destination food spot, and chef Christopher Kostow always invites a group of innovative and notable chefs from around the world for these six-course holiday dinners. Each chef is paired up with a different Napa Vally vintner who brings special bottles to serve with each course. This year's lineup includes New York chefs David Chang, Carlo Mirarchi, Mark Ladner, and Brooks Headly, Rasmus Kofoed of Copenhagen's Geranium, as well as Bay Area chefs David Kinch and Matt Accarrino. Proceeds go to benefit local charities. See the full lineup and package details here.

Quince's Tenth Anniversary Dinners

In celebration of the restaurant's ten years in business (it moved, part way through those ten years, from Pacific Heights to its current Jackson Square digs), not to mention its recent second Michelin star, Quince is doing it up big for the first ten days of December with a series of event dinners featuring guest chefs and proteges of chef Michael Tusk. Tusk himself will be cooking the first one, on December 1, with a luxe menu highlighting white truffles. Guests include Sean Brock, Jonathan Benno, April Bloomfield, and Alice Waters. Some seats are still available and you can find more info here.

Waiheke Island Yacht Club Wine Dinners

The city's only New Zealand restaurant is a pop-up that will close its doors after New Year's Eve. In the meantime, you should try to make it down to Pier 29, particularly for one of two New Zealand wine dinners they're doing. The first, December 2, will be highlighting wines from theSouth Island of NZ, alongside six courses by chef Hayden McMillen. And the second dinner on December 9 will be all North Island wines. Both dinners are $160 per person including wine pairings, making this one of the more affordable splurges of the season. Make reservations here or by calling 415-956-1048.

New Year's Eve or Any Other Night at Saison

One of the best restaurants in the city -- perhaps the best -- counts as a splurge any time of the year for most of us. But with 20-plus delicate, elegant, innovative courses and a focus on high-quality seafood and aged meats, chef Joshua Skenes has garnered national attention for Saison, which in its new Townsend Street location was one of Bon Appetit's best new restaurants of 2013. Also, Mark Bright's wine program is a celebration in itself. Make reservations here.

The Hotel Healdsburg's Christmas Packages

A jaunt to Healdsburg will definitely add some extra, old-timey-town-square holiday spirit to a weekend. The town kicks things off with a holiday party in the square on November 29, but the Hotel Healdsburg will be offering packages throughout December, with holiday tea served every weekend by the fireplace, and a special Christmas Eve feast at Dry Creek Kitchen. See more details here.

Spoonbar's Feast of the Seven Fishes

Also in Healdsburg, at the Hotel Healdsburg's sister property H2, the more casual Spoonbar and chef Louis Maldonado is doing special menus themed on the Italian traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes from December 18 to 24. See all the menus here, and rest assured that Maldonado is doing some of the best and most modern cooking you'll find in Sonoma, so these dinners should not disappoint. Each night's five-course menu will be unique, and is $75 per person, exclusive of beverages, tax, and gratuity. Call 707-433-7222 to reserve.

The Ahwahnee's Bracebridge Dinners and Chef's Holidays

During January and February, the famed Ahwahnee resort in Yosemite National Park brings in a bevy of chefs to do weekend-long sessions that include demos, talks, and dinners. This year's lineup includes Nopa chef Laurence Jossel, Fifth Floor's David Bazirgan, Evan and Sarah Rich from Rich Table, and a trio of female TV chefs, Elizabeth Falkner, Amanda Freitag, and Ariane Duarte. See the full lineup here. Also, from December 13 to 25 the hotel hosts its annual Bracebridge Dinners, which have been a tradition since 1927. These aren't just dinners but four-hour pageants in which the hotel is transformed into a bedecked 17th century English manor complete with 100 actors portraying various characters and singing holiday carols. Basically it's a major scene, but unlike a 17th century English manor, they offer vegetarian and gluten-free menus.