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Anatomy of a Perfect Picnic Party


Hosting any kind of event is exciting and rewarding, but can sometimes also be stressful if you’re not organized. If you’d like to entertain your friends and family with a party to remember, a picnic party is a great way to have fun and enjoy your guests rather than spending the whole time worrying. Use these helpful and easy guidelines to create your own party success story.

Choose a Theme – Your theme can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like – just about anything goes. Garden parties are lovely during spring, summer and fall. Some other ideas include Hawaiian Luau, beach, holiday, exotic Far East, pirate, hoe-down or even interactive murder mystery.

Put it in Writing – Send out invitations two to four weeks before the party. Frugal hosts can easily print their own on their home computer, or purchase a pack of simple invites from a discount store. Be sure to include the date, time and location of the party as well as your contact number so guests can RSVP. Remember to mention that it’s a casual picnic party so guests won’t turn up in their Sunday best. If you’ve chosen a particular theme and would like your guests to dress up, put this in the invitation as well.

Keep it Simple - No need to spend exorbitant amounts of money on your supplies and décor. You’d be surprised at how a few simple things can make a big impact. Colorful disposable tableware and paper tablecloths instantly dress up a backyard picnic table or patio set; inexpensive fabric draped from the walls or around the porch roof creates an intimate ambiance.

Use What You Have – Walk around your house and look for decorative objects that fit your theme. Candle holders, table lamps, posters, throw pillows and similar items can simply be moved outdoors and used as décor.

Make a Seating Chart – If you’re planning on having a structured, seated dinner, a seating chart can be a great way to introduce various friends and family members who have interests in common. Purchase some nice printed place cards from a craft store, or make your own from card stock and put them at each table setting.

Mix it Up – Have different activities going on to keep everyone entertained. You can either divide the party up into the cocktail hour, dinner, dessert and dancing afterward, or serve a casual meal while having various activity areas around your yard or garden. For example, you could have a dancing area on the deck, board games on the patio table, and horseshoe or croquet on the lawn.

Use the Web – The internet is an extremely valuable tool for planning any event. Communicate with guests, receive RSVPs via e-mail, research recipes or find that perfect party item you’ve been looking for. Don’t limit your party to what you can find at the store down the street – you literally have an entire world of choices at your fingertips!

Keep it Casual – Even if you choose to serve a nice seated multiple-course meal, make it lighthearted and fun to keep your own stress level down. Serve everything family-style, cut down on dishes with disposable plates and utensils, and ask a few friends to help make sure nothing goes awry.

Cheat Selectively – Nobody said that hosts have to make everything themselves to have a fun, memorable party. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble (and time!) by letting other people do some of the work. For example, you could have your party catered by a nearby restaurant, or make the main course and order up some sides from a deli.

Splurge on Food and Flowers – These are the top two things that everyone will notice, and they’ll really set the mood for the whole affair. Fresh flowers instantly brighten any room, creating a comfortable atmosphere and drawing attention away from areas that aren’t in top shape. As for the food – well, you’re throwing a picnic party, and the food is the main event! You definitely want it to be delicious.

Relax – Don’t run around the whole time wringing your hands, wiping up crumbs and working in overdrive trying to achieve perfection. Your party will seem ‘perfect’ to your guests not because every little thing is in its place, but because they had a great time – and you should, too.

Submitted by:

Stephanie Gottschalk

Stephanie Gottschalk writes the blogs 'Picnic Fun - Tips and Recipes' (http://www.picnictips.com) and 'The Joy of Water Fountains' (http://www.waterfountainguide.com) for Specialty Living Inc., an Asheville, North Carolina-based company that aims to share their love of people, nature and life through high quality water fountains, picnic baskets and outdoor living products.





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