We all love summer barbecues, backyard get-togethers and hanging out with friends and family, but throwing a party can be a stressful experience, unless you properly plan ahead. With summer 2014 nearly officially upon us, lifestyle expert Ceci Carmichael joined me for an interview yesterday to dish on the the secret to throwing a fun stress-free summer get-together, the must haves we all need to throw a successful party and much more!
Candace Rose: What’s the secret to throwing a fun stress-free summer get-together?
Ceci Carmichael: “Well, take a deep breath, and Candace I always say that plan ahead of time. Try and get as much done ahead of time as you can. That means two weeks out get your list all set, get your menu all set and and then along the way take bite size chunks out of it so that the day before that you aren’t freaking out and going ‘Oh my God’ and you aren’t vacuuming and cooking at the same time. You need time to do your hair, put your makeup on, look nice and actually by the time the party rolls around and you’ve got a lot of stuff done ahead of time, you can actually relax a little bit with your guests.
I think people avoid entertaining because they just think it’ll be so full of stress and they’re not going to have a good time anyway. I think it’s sad because it’s a lot easier than people think, but having the right tools of the trade, I say your go-to products and your go-to things that help alleviate some of the stress and do a lot of the work for you really helps.”
Candace Rose: How can we spend lies time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family?
Ceci Carmichael: “One tip I tell people and they go ‘Oh yeah, that’s a really simple tip’ – but emptying your dishwasher. I know it sounds really simple but when you’ve got a load of dishes and people are coming and going and you need more glasses – to have an empty dishwasher is a lifesaver. As far as dishwashers are concerned, how many times have you gone into your dishwasher thinking everything is clean and you look at it and it’s got food all over it because your dishwasher didn’t do what it was supposed to do? Things like next time you’re in the market for a new dishwasher, the Frigidaire Gallery dishwasher is amazing. They have a one wash, one dry, one time promise that basically says that it is going to do what it says it’s going to do, which is get your dishes clean without pre-rinsing. It’s got this orbit clean wash system and an effortless dry system so that you’re not drying your dishes afterward. They did a poll and 50% of people say that they have crud on their dishes when they take them out. Having to dry takes more time. It also has a smudge-proof stainless steel front on it so that those sticky fingers don’t mess you up!”
Candace Rose: Do you have any advice on how we can make our summer parties successful?
Ceci Carmichael: “Well, I think that having your own signature dishes is always fun and putting your personality into it. I personally love hot sauce, I always consider myself a connoisseur of hot sauces and one of my absolute favorites is Texas Pete. They just came out with a Sriracha sauce and Srirachas are very popular now, and this is a terrific one, it’s called Cha! by Texas Pete, but I think thinking about hot sauce the way I use it as not only a condiment but an ingredient adds sort of a level of flavor or a smokiness to your dishes. Besides putting hot sauce of course in your bloody Mary mix – because you’ve got to have a nice spicy bloody Mary, but putting it in your salad dressings and in your marinades…I even have it here in my corn and black bean salad.
Again, entertaining doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. This is just store bought dip and I drizzled some hot sauce on top of that so it gives you that swipe of heat when you’re dipping your pita chips or whatever in it and it’s delicious. Texas Pete has an amazing website, TexasPete.com where you can get all sorts of recipes, and great things for the summer like their sticky finger plum pork spare ribs which are amazing, their zippy tie dye coleslaw and sultry grilled chicken. They even have desserts that have hot sauce in them which is terrific. It kind of sounds unconventional but it’s actually a red velvet cone – look for that recipe. They have some great recipes there. Find your little signature dish; having a signature dish is always fun.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Ceci Carmichael: “One thing about products that multitask- instead of buying your bleach and your cleaner and having one product that does everything (whether it’s five things or 225 things) Tide Oxi does everything from clean the grout in your shower to your patio furniture to your Uncle Herb who spills wine on your rug at your party- you can go wipe that up and for your laundry to throw all your linens and napkins and towels in there before your party and get everything sparkling clean, get a little of that in there. I love things that are in one container, not a bunch of bottles – it’s not like what am I using here and does everything, so I love that.”
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Ceci Carmichael: “Go to Facebook.com/VideoPump. One more thing since you’re all over the country, if anyone’s lucky enough to have Fresh Direct in their neighborhood, log onto FreshDirect.com and it brings farm fresh vegetables, local vegetables, meats, prepared foods so if you don’t feel like cooking they’ll do all the cooking for you, desserts. Everything that you’re going to need for your party for your guests brought right to your door. That is a beautiful thing, so if anyone’s in the North East markets up there and check to see if it’s available. If you’re out of time and you’re out of energy and want everything to come to you and don’t have time to shop, thee most wonderful – we have it in New York as well I actually use Fresh Direct quite a bit.”