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Birthday Parties

Perhaps the most frequently given type of occasion party, birthday parties usually follow a familiar pattern: Gather, eat, open presents, have cake, leave. Although this pattern is unlikely to change (why fix what isn't broken?), you can certainly liven up familiar traditions by adding your own creative touches to the venue, décor, menu, and activities.
    You'll Need
  • Ingredients for each of the recipes, as well as tools for preparing and serving menu items
  • Picnic blankets (if you don't have picnic blankets, oversized beach towels, reed mats, or regular blankets will also work)
  • Picnic baskets
  • Ice chests/coolers for cold items
  • Birthday candles and lighter or matches
  • Balloons or homemade signs
  • Picnic game: croquet, badminton, or Scrabble
  • Music CDs
  • Three wrapped prizes
Birthday Picnic
Although dinner parties, group gatherings at a restaurant, and cocktail parties are quite nice, celebrate with something a little different this year: a birthday picnic. Gather together the birthday girl's closest friends and spend the afternoon lounging in the shade, noshing on delicious food, and relaxing.

Date, Theme, Budget, and Venue
The guest of honor's birthday—If you can't have the party on your guest's actual birthday, ask her which date would be best for her. You'll likely throw the party on the weekend just before or after her special day—a Sunday afternoon would be nice for this picnic.

Simply classy theme—This picnic is a great occasion to bust out the fancy picnic basket your mom gave you last summer. Straw hats, red-and-white-checked picnic blankets, perhaps a game of croquet in the afternoon -- enjoy a lazy afternoon of simple pastimes.

Midrange budget—Plan to spend about $11 or $12 per person for this picnic.

A grassy knoll venue—Depending upon your area's topography, you might host this picnic at a park, the beach, near the lake, in the woods, or even in your own backyard. All you really need is a flat, comfortable area, shade, and access to bathrooms.

Guest List and Invitations
Invite about 15 to 20 people to this party, basing your guest list on the birthday girl's preferences. Ask her who she'd like to attend—friends, family, neighbors, co-workers—and get everyone's phone number and email address. If you have a friend or two whose company you think the birthday girl might enjoy, it's entirely appropriate to invite additional guests.

If you'd like to spring for paper invitations, look for simple cards that suit your theme; you might also look for decorative computer paper at an office supply store and make your own invites.

However, using a web-based application to manage the guest list for this picnic would probably be the easiest, most efficient way to go. You can even customize your electronic invite by uploading an image of the guest of honor.

Menu
Each of these dishes is simple to make and travels well. You can make everything the night before the party, except for the green salad, which you should toss together just before serving (bring the prepared lettuce with the additional ingredients in plastic baggies or small Tupperware containers).

  • Appetizers—Herb-Marinated Cheese with baguette slices, chilled artichokes (cook and chill the night before and serve with Cindylicious Aioli)
  • Side dishes—Erica's Favorite Salad, Morning Melon Balls, Mediterranean Pasta
  • Main course—Gastrointerestinal Disaster
  • Dessert—Cookies (Stop by a bakery for an assortment of cookies, and purchase a cupcake to serve as the birthday cake. Don't forget the birthday candle!)
  • Beverages—Limoncello
Your vegetarian friends will also enjoy this meal; Mediterranean Pasta makes for a hearty main course.



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Reproduced from Plan a Fabulous Party In No Time, by Tamar Love, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing.

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