Summer Fun

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Shake up summer entertaining with theme parties

Perhaps no season is better for entertaining than summer. Summer allows hosts and their guests to spill out into the yard, which also allows for bigger parties. But backyard barbecues can quickly grow stale.

Individuals who frequently entertain can develop some fresh ideas when hosting crowds. Parties with a theme can put a new spin on festivities, turning a typical day in the yard into a party with a theme can make a party more fun. Hosts and hostesses who develop a theme often find that decorations, food ideas, music, and activities fall easily into place. Kids are not the only ones who can enjoy a theme party. Here are some ideas that fit with a wide variety of events.

Summer sports

Infuse some sportsmanship into gatherings by giving your party a sports theme. Baseball may be America's pastime, but soccer, volleyball and tennis are ideal in the warm weather as well. When hosting a baseball party encourage guests to arrive in their favorite team jersey, which will spark conversation and good-natured rivalry between participants.

Foods served can be reminiscent of ballpark fare, including fries, pretzels, beer, hot dogs, and any other concession stand foods you can think of. Consider decorating cakes or cookies to look like baseballs or baseball mitts.

A highlight of the party can be separating into teams and enjoying a pickup game of the event sport of choice. Turn the yard into a makeshift baseball diamond or set up a net and spike a few balls in a volleyball match. Those who do not want to play can sit on the sidelines and cheer their respective teams.

Castaway

In 2000, moviegoers filled theaters to watch Tom Hanks survive on a remote tropical island in the movie "Castaway." Although being shipwrecked alone on an island may not be the best way to have fun, playing on the theme of the film with a bunch of friends can make for an entertaining party.

Whether using "Castaway" as your reference point or components of "Pirates of the Caribbean" or even old episodes of "Gilligan's Island," encourage guests to dress the part in beachwear or tattered clothing. Create the ambiance of a deserted island with sand, potted palm trees and the ocean (a pool will suffice). Beach sounds, such as crashing waves and seagulls, piped over outdoor speakers can complete the scene.

Guests can dine on fresh fish, fruit, coconuts, and other fare that may be harvested on an island. Everyone can take part building a bonfire (contained in a fire pit) or engaging in a scavenger hunt for island treasure. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Musical flashback

Music has helped shape popular culture for decades, and the songs of a particular era can spark memories of childhood or romances from summers past. Parties based around a musical theme can unite guests who share the same love of songs and grew up together in a particular era.

Choose a period that offers a wide mix of musical influences and styles that appeal to an array of guests. The 1960s, 1970s and 1980s produced many beloved musical acts and also spurred fashion choices that are nostalgic and kitschy. Let the soundtrack set the pace of the party, with guests getting up and dancing to favorite tunes or creating impromptu karaoke sessions.

Ask guests to dress up as popular musicians of the era. Now is the time to pull those bell-bottoms or lacy fingerless gloves out of storage boxes in the attic.

Give food and drink quirky names that tie into popular movies or songs of the decade. For example, serve "Breakfast Club Sandwiches" at a party with a 1980s theme.

Summer entertaining season is in full swing. Breathe new life into run-of-the-mill barbecues by picking a theme for a party and getting creative.