7 Tips for Hosting a Summer Pool Party

Pool Party

It is the peak of the warm months, and the sun is sweltering. All you can think about is nostalgic warm days at the pool as a child. Revisit these memories by hosting an exciting summer pool party, but with a little more adult flair. However, before you invite your friends over for the perfect refreshing summer bash, there are several things to consider during the planning process.

1. Decorate to Impress

First, you want to work on creating a fun summer backdrop that clearly transports your guests to paradise. With a pool party, it is important to think more fun and simple rather than extravagant and elegant. Pops of color can quickly add excitement to the décor. Pick vibrant shades of pinks, greens and purples and place them around the pool. Use small paper lanterns or bunting in bright colors to add the sense of an outdoor fiesta or barbecue. If you want to go with a theme, you could add touches of tropical elements like vibrant flowers and subtle bamboo details, or hang beach balls from tree branches and awnings to add a fun childhood element.

If you want something a little more grown up and sophisticated, you could use a nautical theme with deep blues and reds accompanied with white details, adding touches of anchors and sailboats.

2. Refreshing Cocktails

Sangria cocktail

Make vibrant fruity cocktails that are reminiscent of tropical pool cabanas in the Caribbean. Mai tais, mojitos and margaritas are perfect refreshing poolside drinks that will leave people impressed. You can easily find recipes and add small touches of your own, such as adding hints of watermelon or mango. Sangria is also an excellent refreshing option for wine drinkers.

If this is a family event, don’t forget the kids. You can easily make virgin versions of poolside cocktails and punches that will have them coming back for more.

3. Summer Wine

While wine is often ignored at outdoor barbecues and events, don’t be so quick to count it out! Many people are not liquor or beer drinkers, and it is important to have something for everyone. As you select wines for the event, consider light refreshing options that will be optimal for the heat of the outside setting.

Rosés are an excellent option for a hot summer day. While traditionally they were extraordinarily sweet, many new dry rosés are light and refreshing. Lighter white wines, such as the floral Viognier, can be ideal picks for your gathering. Overall, look for wines that are off-dry with a hint of sweet that come from cooler climates and are derived from lighter grape varieties. These qualities will help you find the perfect summer wine.

If you have the space, consider installing a wine refrigerator in your kitchen. This will help you store your collection of wine for your pool guests and ensure that the wine is perfectly chilled in time for the party.

4. Pool Side Beer

Nothing screams warm summer day like a crisp cool beer. As you begin to select beers for your party, you want to look for beers with lower alcohol by volume. Because your guests will be hanging out in the warm sun all day, you want beers that they can sip on throughout the afternoon without getting a little too intoxicated. Remember that safety should always be your first priority!

Secondly, you will want to consider lighter refreshing options. A number of breweries release summer editions that will add an excellent touch to your event. There are a wide variety of summer wheat beers, blondes and ales to choose from. Select a range of refreshing options to satisfy even the pickiest beer drinkers.

If you have an outdoor kitchen, you might want to invest in a kegerator for your guests. A kegerator will allow you to serve your favorite beers on tap in your very own backyard.

5. Expert Grilling

Laguna Grill Smoker

A summer party would not be complete without some delicious food hot off the grill. There are a variety of options when planning your menu for the party. You can go with more casual burgers, hot dogs and sausages, or you could go with something a little more impressive like steaks, fish or kabobs.

Whatever you may be putting on the grill, there are some important steps to follow. First, you want to make sure that you are not putting the food on the grill too early. You need to let the grill sit for at least 30 minutes before cooking to ensure the best results. Also, avoid babysitting the food. Every time you lift the lid of the grill, heat and smoke is lost and your meat loses flavor. In addition, over flipping the food can result in flare-ups which can cause your food to burn. Look up appropriate cooking times and set a timer so you only have to check on and flip your food once. You can also ensure perfectly cooked meat by using a meat thermometer. Finally, you want to wait until the end of the grilling process to add your sauce. If you add it too early, it will simply burn off onto the grill.

6. Delicious Salads

The sides you serve along with the barbecue are just as important as the main course. Consider providing a spread of light summer salads. There are many options that go beyond a traditional green or potato salad. Bring back memories of corn on the cob by creating a light refreshing concoction from the kernels. There are also a variety of salads that use bright green asparagus, broccoli or kale.

Consider serving fruit salads, which can provide a sweet and refreshing touch to your summer soirée. Adding a hint of vibrant herbs to your fruit, such as lavender, mint, basil or rosemary, can make for a truly unique dish. You can even bring a little bit of influence from the grill to your salads. Grilling more obvious vegetables like squash, eggplant or mushrooms create a savory dish, and grilling more adventurous items like avocado or fruit provide an element of surprise.

7. Fun and Games

Games are not just for the kids. On a hot summer day, the adults want to spend just as much time playing in the pool. Throw some fun floating tubes and lounges for people to relax in the pool. This not only provides a place to cool off but also adds to the décor. If you want to incorporate more active games, get a beach ball and set up a net for some pool volleyball. Get everyone involved and create a little competition while enjoying the water. If you’re feeling a bit more nostalgic and adventurous, purchase some inexpensive water guns and water balloons for a water gun battle. Fun activities such as these will ensure that everyone has a fantastic time.

You have a lot of options when hosting your party. Just try to be creative and have fun with the process. Vibrant decorations, delicious barbecue, impressive drinks, and fun activities will have your guests talking about the event for weeks and months to come.

A Valentine’s Day Love Story from LivingDirect.com

Yep, it’s that time of year again. As Cupid sharpens his arrows, don’t get left all alone… again. This year, give your love to somebody, or something, that will be completely devoted to you and your needs. Follow our lead, and love your beer.

Father’s Day Sale & Gift Ideas

Father's Day Banner

Just say NO to ties! Whether your dad uses the backyard to house his grill or his garden, keeps wine or beer in stock, we have the perfect gift to make his Father’s Day extra special – and none of them can be worn around his neck (at least not comfortably). Plus, we are currently offering an extra 5% off most products that are already discounted 20% off! Break the tie tradition and get on Dad’s good side with any of these choices:

For the Beer Enthusiast:

Krups Beertender Mini Kegerator   Nostalgia Electrics Kegerator   EdgeStar Dual Tap Kegerator   28 Quart Jockey Box

from left to right: Krups Beertender Mini Kegerator ($141.55*), Nostalgia Electrics Kegerator ($399.99), EdgeStar Stainless Steel Double Tap Kegerator ($616.55), 28 Quart 2 Faucet Red Jockey Box ($398.05)

For the Wine Lover:

Summit Countertop Wine Chiller   EdgeStar 26 bottle Wine Cooler   Koldfront 4 Bottle Wine Cooler   EdgeStar 155 Bottle Wine Cooler

from left to right: Summit 8 Bottle Countertop Wine Chiller ($341.24), EdgeStar 26 Bottle Dual Zone Wine Cooler ($699), Koldfront 4 Bottle Wine Cooler ($94.99), EdgeStar 155 Bottle Dual Zone Wine Cooler ($1499.99)

For the Grill Master:

 Outdoor Greatroom Company Portable Gas Grill   Minden Master Gas Grill   Napoleon Mirage Grill   Grill Dome Infinity Series Kamado Grill

from left to right: Outdoor Greatroom Company 20″ Portable Gas Grill ($219), Minden Master Gas Grill ($479), Napoleon Mirage Grill w/Infrared Rear & Side Burner ($1899), Grill Dome Infinity Series Kamado Grill ($799.95)

For the Gardener:

Exaco ECO Square Rain Barrel   Brill Razorcut Push Reel Lawn Mower   Good Ideas Compost Wizard Standing Bin   Exaco 39 sq ft Green House

from left to right: Exaco ECO 70 Gallon Rain Barrel ($208.99), Brill Razor Push Reel Mower ($239.99), Good Ideas Compost Wizard Standing Bin ($128.25), Exaco 39 sq ft Green House ($427.49)

*NOTE: All prices are valid as of 6/14/12, but are subject to change.

What are you getting Dad this Father’s Day?

It’s Wedding Season: What to Give the Happy Couple

White Wedding Gift

If you’re anything like me, your fridge tends to be covered in “save the date” postcards this time of year. And while I’m excited to spend my summer celebrating my friends’ and family’s wedded bliss, I’m kind of freaked out about what to get the Mr. and Mrs. (there are 5 couples!)

Then I realized that I work for a company that sells appliances for smaller living spaces. Putting that into the equation, along with the fact that my friends getting married are just starting out and buying their first homes, I knew I was golden. So without further hesitation, I give you my top five wedding gift recommendations.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer1. KitchenAid Stand Mixer

If the couple you’re buying for doesn’t already have one these, I’m willing to bet that they want one (and it’s on their gift registry). This thing is a kitchen essential for people who like to bake or cook. It comes with attachments for preparing homemade pasta, ice cream, fruit juice and, of course, mixing among other things.

I’m getting this for the people that treat me like their child and have me over for dinner every now and then. I figure the menu will only expand once they get my gift…

Nesco Roaster2. Nesco 6 Qt. Stainless Steel Roaster

I have some friends that practically live at restaurants and seem to have never used their kitchen but swear they want to learn to cook. I’m getting them this roaster. Call it a crock pot, a slow cooker, a roaster – whatever you want, but this thing is the perfect tool for those aspiring to cook.

It goes like this: buy food, put in cooker, set cooker and voila! Dinner is ready when you get home from work. This is the perfect gateway cooking device!

EdgeStar Mini Kegerator3. EdgeStar Deluxe Mini Kegerator

One of the couples is having an open bar at their wedding, so naturally, the mini kegerator is a perfect wedding gift for them. They like to entertain and the groom is a bit of a beer snob. And for the nights they’re not entertaining, it can easily be placed in a closet due to its compact size.

The mini kegerator holds a 5L mini keg, which more breweries are starting to produce, and it’s the perfect size for two people to enjoy.


Portable Propane Grill4. Keg-a-Que Portable Propane Grill

Tailgating brought the couple I’m buying this for together. I find it’s only fitting to get them this as their wedding present.

It’s compact enough to fit in the trunk of a car and has handles on the side for carrying around to wherever their favorite teams take them. Plus, the fun football shape makes it perfect.


EdgeStar 18 Bottle Wine Cooler5. EdgeStar 18-Bottle Dual Zone Wine Cooler

Nothing says love quite like wine… or a wine cooler for that matter. The last couple I’m giving a gift to is going to have their honeymoon in Napa, so what better gift than to give them a unit to properly store all of their new favorite wines?

This unit isn’t over the top big and has two different zones so they can chill both their reds and whites at the proper temperature.


If you’re in panic over wedding season this year, don’t fret – there’s something out there for everyone!

Let us know in the comments what wedding gifts you are planning to give.


Appliance Terminology Overview

I think a good way to start this blog post series will be to explain some appliance terminology and what it all means. A short encyclopedia, if you will. This is not necessarily all in alphabetical order.

I might get a little technical, but I’ll try to apply the K.I.S.S. rule (keep it simple, stupid) wherever I can.


Compressor-Based System: An appliance that uses a compressor, or pump, with a closed refrigeration system, and uses a refrigerant to cool a particular space.  This could be a refrigerator, wine cooler (some), kegerator or deep freezer. Common refrigerants include R134A and R410A, among others.

Thermoelectric / TE: An appliance that uses electronics/electricity to cool a small space without the use of refrigerants. These typically consist of a cooling node (Peltier effect) and fans to distribute the air inside the cabinet and dissipate the heat to the outside. They are, for the most part, efficient, although there are a few drawbacks, especially if you are trying to build it into a cabinet.  I’ll delve into that in a later post, along with what exactly a Peltier unit is in simple terms.

LED: Refers to a Light Emitting Diode, which is a commonly used electronic component. All diodes allow electricity to flow in one direction only. Think of it as a one way street, except this one glows when the electric flows. They are used for operation and mode indicators, and also for general lighting purposes. Sometimes they use different colors and are commonly used to highlight and display wines in wine coolers.

Cooling Fans: This will mostly apply to thermoelectric, or TE, wine coolers. They do different jobs: some distribute the cooled air inside the cabinet or at the evaporator coil on compressor-based units, and others get rid of the hot air at the back of the cabinet or from the condenser coils on compressor-based units. Most of them consist of the same small DC-powered fans you find in your desktop computer.

Product Descriptions

Countertop Dishwasher   Portable Air Conditioner   Portable Ice Maker   Kegerator   Portable Freezer Refrigerator   Wine Cooler

Portable Dishwasher: This isn’t the one your mom used to roll around the kitchen and store in a corner. These actually are small enough to sit on a countertop. These are really simple to install. Most come with two hoses, a drain and supply, and a quick connector to attach to a standard kitchen faucet, in place of the aerator. They are typically not meant for a permanent installation. They come in different sizes and capacities, also.

Portable Air Conditioner: An alternative to the typical, window-mounted A/C unit. These usually have one hose used to exhaust out the hot air produced during the cooling process, though some will also have an intake hose. They are mounted on casters, so they can be moved room to room. Most will evaporate the majority, if not all, of the water produced in the exhaust air, but if they don’t get rid of all of it, they will usually have a drain at the bottom of the unit to get rid of the collected water. Portable air conditioners usually will require a 15 amp circuit to run properly, although there are some that require 20 amps or more. Most will come with a window fitting kit that is easily assembled, as they have to be vented to the outside of the room being cooled in most cases.

Portable Ice Maker: An ice maker that is small enough to sit on a counter, produces 6-12 cubes at a time, uses a self-contained water supply and storage for the ice after the cycle is complete. These are not high volume units. Typically, they will not refrigerate the ice and it will melt back into the water tank to start the process over yet again. I recommend moving each batch of ice out of the ice maker and into your regular freezer.

Kegerator: A refrigerated appliance used to keep beer cold and dispense beer. Usually has a connected tower and faucet, with dispenser head to pour the beer and on board CO2 storage to pressurize the beer. They also usually have casters for portability and can be used with multiple beers of your choice, sometimes more than one keg can be used (called a dual tap kegerator). Some kegerators are much smaller and utilize a 5 liter mini keg. These are fairly new on the market. The larger kegerators fit a half shell sankey keg, or Cornelius keg. Some of the mini keg 5 liter units will run on 12V DC and are popular with tailgaters.

Portable Freezer / Refrigerator: These are unique, as they can be used in a vehicle, or boat, or while camping and for emergency uses. Some use compressor-based refrigeration, while others use TE technology. A TE unit typically will not be able to refrigerate to freezing or below, and they will usually be good for 40 degrees F below the ambient temperature around the unit. Think short term storage,  like trips to the grocery store. The compressor-based units are infinitely more flexible, allowing for -0 degrees F operation, up through 50+ degrees F, in most cases. Both can be operated from 12V DC and 120V AC, depending on the model. Each type has their pluses and minuses and I will cover those later. Personally, I like them both!

Wine Cooler: These come in a wide variety of sizes and capacities.  The same can be said for the refrigeration system used. While they have a large temperature range to work with, the TE models generally will hold wines from 45 degrees F-65 degrees F, depending on the ambient temperature of the room they are located in. A compressor-based unit will usually hold wines at 40 degrees F or less, and can be built into a cabinet, as the condenser coil and fan is at the bottom front of the unit. One thing to  remember with wine coolers in general:  They are designed for long term STORAGE, not drinkability, and that applies to TE units in particular. Again, that is a general guideline, so YMMV, or Your Mileage May Vary. (I love acronyms, don’t you?)

Til next time!


Previous Post: What is a small appliance, anyway?