I’m reflecting on the smart and funny people I met at the excellent BlogHer conference. The clever ideas shared. The meaningful discussions. The passion for social media I saw manifested over and over again (one conversation with Alana was particularly inspiring).

BlogHer is a conference like no other. It’s a professional conference, but I’d guess about 50 percent of the attendees are not quite ready to define themselves as “professional bloggers” yet — maybe they’re even attending BlogHer to find out if blogging-as-a-career is a viable path. And I would say a good portion of attendees are there for the social experience. To see old friends. To strengthen relationships. To meet bloggers they admire. That heavy social aspect is of course unusual at a professional conference.

Something about this mix of professional and not-yet-professional attendees creates much drama at BlogHer. Talented writers have been chronicling their thoughts on the subject here and here and here and here (and I’m sure many more places that I haven’t taken time to read yet).

I will leave the pondering for the essayists, and stick with the pretty stuff. Because that’s what I love to do on Design Mom. Here are a few things (among dozens) that made me happy at the conference this year.

1) There were many gifts, big and small, at BlogHer this year. I thought the takeout carton with tiny footcare goodies from Lego was especially brilliant (pictured above). A thoughtful gift, and a clever self-deprecating acknowledgement by Lego of their products’ one existing drawback — the pain they cause when being stepped on.

2) The exchange of business cards is part of any conference. I loved seeing so many that were well-designed this year. Kelly Loubet had one outstanding example. Alexa Stevenson had a pretty letterpressed offering. And some were like their own small gift — Christy Nelson attached a shrinky dink with her info to a friendship bracelet. Jennui attached her info to a sleek lipgloss tin.

3) Dancing at the Mamapop Sparklecorn Party. You can find a dreamy picture of me with the unicorn cake here.

4) Seeing Ree from The Pioneer Woman in the hotel lobby. She took my photo and posted it the next day on her blog. She works hard to make everyone feel acknowledged. She is beautiful.

5) Watching Barbara Jones. I loved seeing the custom vintage-looking bowling shirt (pictured in an iconic photo here) she was wearing for her BowlHer party. Details like that make me happy. I kept calling her the Queen of BlogHer 09 — she was taking care of everybody and helping out wherever she could.

6) Getting a hand massage in the Microsoft Microspa and grilling the masseuse about massage ettiquette, culture and best practices.

7) While I was at dinner on Saturday Night, reading on Twitter about the Cheezburgher party being shut down and that guests were having their photos taken with the security guards. (Plus, getting back to the hotel and realizing that it wasn’t shut down, it was just moved to the lobby — and there was still plenty of time to join in.)

8) Seeing Danny Seo in the Method Suite wielding some sort of powerful phone cleaning wand. And chatting with Janel from Apartment Therapy.

9) Attending the Nikon party in a beautiful restaurant right on the river and watching night kayakers go by. Plus also getting my picture snapped with Carson Kressley. (Will find that pic and post it asap…)

10) Finding a Mr. Potato Head from Playskool in the conference bag. So smart. Everybody loves Mr. Potato Head. All ages. All creeds. It’s was a universal hit.

11) Announcing a BlogLuxe award at the Social Luxe Lounge and seeing blogging friends make a big Blogher debut with their super successful party. Yummy food. Manicures. Gorgeous henna tatoos (done freehand!). I also like the way that Swiffer (the major sponsor of the party) was understated about giving out samples. Instead of sending people home with product they just gave out a simple card saying: if you’d like to receive a Swiffer product, send them an email. Extra fun: meeting Hostess with the Mostess for the first time.

12) Hanging with Anna from Hershey’s and handing out Hershey’s Bliss Chocolate with the Kirtsy Girls. Laurie Smithwick. Laura Mayes. Gwen Bell. Also, I loved hearing how conference attendees were referencing the Hershey’s Kirtsy Party Alertsy for their party info. So glad we could help! You can see photos of the big chocolate meetup here.

13) Being video-interviewed by Janice of 5 Minutes For Mom. It’s always a treat to spend time with twins Susan and Janice. Also. The BCBG dress that Janice wore to the Nikon Party was my favorite outfit at BlogHer. Hands down. Gorgeous.

14) Lisa Stone (founder of BlogHer) and her fabulous hair. Lisa always looks beautiful, but her new long hair is out of sight. Hot!

Bonus number 15) Walking back from the Social Luxe Lounge and seeing President Obama drive by — with the entire presidential motorcade of course. I am not even kidding you.

Kirtsy Girls in the
Microsoft Microspa. Photo by BabyJi. Find additional photos from Blogher09 here and here