Celebrity Event Planner, Debi Lilly who has planned events for celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Debra Messing and Brooke Shields to name a few, joined me to discuss her new line, the Debi Lilly Collection for Safeway and offer holiday entertaining tips from decor to menu planning!
Candace Rose: How can we make holiday entertaining less stressful?
Debi Lilly: "Well, I'm a busy working mom, I know just how it is for everybody trying to have a party and I'm so excited to have partnered with Safeway and we are transforming together hectic holidays into happy holidays and it's so easy to do. We've put together a collection called Debi Lilly Design and all of these beautiful products are right in the grocery aisle at Safeway, allowing you in one swoop to grab beautiful flowers, beautiful decor, candles and then of course all of their great food."
Candace Rose: Do you have any suggestions when it comes to decor and table settings?
Debi Lilly: "I sure do. I've got some really great tricks up my sleeve that I'm going to share. You know we did a recent survey and found that 75% of women are trying to perfect their holiday decor and their meal and are very challenged by that. And then also 40% are trying to accomplish everything they need to within their budget. So what we've put together are some really beautiful tricks to help with exactly those issues like for example putting together a color palette that really pops but yet is very simple. Choosing two colors like red and green as you see here (shown below) really builds this beautiful story. It's very visually exciting and when you set a buffet like this with some layered vases that we've turned into cake stands with plates right on top. We have the same illusion bases right here filled with beautiful fresh red roses. These are our hand tied bouquets and we've done all the work for you to make it easy. We've already arranged the flowers perfectly and all you do is take them home, chop the stems and drop them right into your vases. How easy is that?"
Candace Rose: That sounds perfect.
Debi Lilly: "And then another great trick is to take individual bunches of pine tips like you see you here across the table, lay them long wise (end to end) and then with the double faced satin ribbon, do beautiful tucks of ribbon. It adds and instant pop of color, looks like this is beautiful expensive garland but again you put it together in just minutes doing it yourself. And of course you can't have a party without some beautiful candles. Candles really add so much warmth to your home and beauty, not to mention the entire house will smell incredible. These are our winterberry candles for the season and your guests will feel as transformed when they walk in like they've been taken to another place- someplace very special just through the scent of the candle. And food is such an important part of party planning as we know. And what I love about Safeway, their Safeway Select hors d'oeuvres look like the finest caterer has come in and done your party in the entire city but yet they're right from the freezer section in the grocery aisle. All you do is warm them up in the oven, put them right on top of your plates, add a little garnish of fresh herbs so that it looks, again very pretty and very styled and you don't have to bake everything from scratch. You can really make it easy on yourself if you can preset these on plates so that during the party you're spending time with your guests, you're not stuck in the kitchen cooking. And another great tip, Chef Jeff who runs the Safeway Culinary Kitchen has some no cook recipes and these are so convenient. You don't even have to turn on the oven. One of my favorites is taking just three ingredients: the pita chip, with a beautiful artichoke spread dollop and then a little piece of the waterfront bistro smoked salmon. You can see it's really beautiful, it tastes great and again that takes you just a few minutes to put together."
Candace Rose: And how about dessert and beverages?
Debi Lilly: "Well, I love dessert and I love all kinds of fun beverages but for the holidays I think it's really fun to think of something that's along the lines of this sort of menu where people are tasting lots of different things; so for dessert, one of my favorite trends is the cookie bar where you can take these same illusion vases, you can group them together on a table in your house and you can pre-fill them with all kinds of beautiful cookies. Again, Safeway Select cookies, the bakery cookies right in Safeway; pick your favorite flavors. I love to go with either all sort of blond cookies or all chocolate cookies so that the presentation looks really interesting. And there's so many different flavors- lemon, coconut; but they can all be in the same color palette. That's a great idea cause you can drop them right in your vases. They look like cookie jars, they're served at room temperature. Again, you haven't had to bake everything from scratch, so it makes it really easy and affordable and guests can try all kinds of new things.
On the drinks side, one of my favorite things to do is a Prosecco bar where you buy a few different kinds of Prosecco. Why I love Prosecco is it's usualy less than $10 a bottle. You could do a rose prosecco, you could do different flavors, different regions, that kind of thing. People love tasting something new, trying something new. I find an interactive bar like that where people are helping themselves again allows you to be with your guests instead of stuck behind the bar bartending. But people also just instantly start talking, it's a great icebreaker; great way for people to meet each other and you know, have some great conversation at the same time."
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you'd like to share?
Debi Lilly: "All of these great ideas and wonderful recipes are online at Safeway.com/Holiday."