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CHICAGO (CBS) – How about this for your next party? You provide the guest list and major manufacturers provide the food, fun and free gifts. CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports on why some of the biggest retailers in the nation are throwing parties for everyday people.

From Michigan City, Indiana to Naperville, Illinois, the traditional “house party” has taken on a whole new meaning.

Jennifer said, “I’ve done four house parties. I’ve done Clairol, Soy Joy, Ball cannning products and Huggies Potty Dance party.”

Kathy Workman, from Michigan City, has also had a canning jar party and a Febreze party. And now they’re hosting a Kraft Mac & Cheese party.

All of the food, a basket full of goodies, and even the cookware is all free.

Lara Krupicka, from Naperville, said, “They sent really nice pots, nice dish, so it was more than I expected.”

Kraft is just one of numerous companies that provide their products and all the fixings to people willing to host house parties.

The advantage, according to Kraft, is that it “drives awareness and trial of our new products while increasing word of mouth.”

Workman said she does it “for the fun, to entertain, to have friends over and to try the products to see if I like them or not.”

Workman and other hosts share their feedback with the companies, and that’s another plus for manufacturers.

Product manufacturers aren’t the only ones enticing consumers with wine and cheese. Special guests at the opening of a new Jewel store in Wrigleyville are local mommy bloggers.

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara who blogs at ChillMama.com said, “Personally I was impressed with the store. It’s spacious. The windows are gorgeous. It’s light and airy.”

Karen May with Jewel-Osco said, “They have that direct connection to the folks who go on their blog sites who listen to them and what they have to say.”

And when consumers talk, corporations listen. Case in point: a new children’s laptop developed by Toshiba has features that were suggested by Best Buy customers.

So how can you host a party, get some free stuff, and add your two cents about products?

One way is through a website called Houseparty.com.

“They have a list of different companies that you can represent, and then if you get selected you get to host the party,” Workman said.

To get selected, you fill out a questionaire about your likes and dislikes. But the party ladies say it’s not difficult to be chosen. And a lot of fun if you are.

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