Choosing Party Venues

The Beach
One of the absolute best places to party, the beach offers instant atmosphere for a variety of events: If a sunny day isn't reason enough to head for the beach with your pals, plan a birthday, graduation, or bon voyage party – really, any kind of celebration fares well near an ocean or lake.

Don't discount a nighttime beach party, which can be incredibly fun. Check the regulations at your favorite ocean-side spot, and make sure that after-dark parties are allowed, as well as bonfires and grilling.

  • Pros – Beach parties are relatively easy to organize; most people are familiar with the particular requirements for a day at the beach. The beach is just plain fun, hearkening back to the days when the state of your tan was more important than the state of the world.
  • Cons – Sand. Itchy, wet bathing suits. Sand in the food. Sand in your sunblock. Sunburn. Screaming children. Children kicking sand on you. The potential for water-related accidents.
Even with the notable cons, a day at the beach is unparalleled fun. Have a lobster boil, grill some dogs, pack a picnic, or make it a potluck – food, people, and a few supplies (see the sidebar earlier in this chapter, "You Can Take It with You") are all that you really need.

Just remember to apply sunblock at least 30 minutes before you arrive, and then reapply every two hours, or more frequently if you go swimming. You may also want to limit your beach partying to one staffed by a lifeguard, especially if you expect children will attend. Drowning and rip tides are serious realities, even at beaches you might think safe.

If you are packing sandwiches (my family's favorite was tuna salad), prepare your ingredients ahead of time, and then assemble sandwiches at the beach. Keep the meats and cheeses, breads, and vegetable garnishes separated until you are ready to eat, lest you wind up with soggy sandwiches, but you can slice the tomato, meat, and cheese; clean and shred the lettuce; or mix up the tuna salad ahead of time. Just be sure you leave room in your cooler for anything that might spoil, especially the tuna salad.

If you live near a beach or lake, save time and aggravation by packing an all-purpose beach bag you can grab at a moment's notice. Fill a straw or fabric tote with a beach towel, sunscreen, a wide-toothed comb, pre-moistened towelettes, a small first aid kit, a hat, and a juicy novel. Just add a bottle of water, and you're ready to party.

Usually a multiday event, camping mixes the challenges of a destination party with those of a beach party: You're gonna get dirty, and you're gonna stay that way for days; plus, you'll have to coordinate a group of people who probably don't even own a tent, let alone know you're supposed to brush the area clean of rocks before setting one up. Why, then, do this to yourself? Because camping rocks!

  • Pros – Camping creates a sense of personal empowerment and self-reliance you simply can't acquire from other parties. Yes, you can pitch a tent. You can also string up an outdoor kitchen, dig a privy hole, grill up a salmon fillet, and get a good-night's sleep, even in the woods. Camping also affords the opportunity for campfires, sing-alongs, ghost stories, and lots and lots of giggling.
  • Cons – In addition to bugs, bears, and things that go creep in the night, camping presents challenges. There is an art to sleeping (and doing other things) in the woods, and if you have not mastered this art, things could become very uncomfortable for you. Also, when you're stuck in the woods (or at the river), the nearest convenience store is usually quite a ways away, which might present problems for the unprepared. Because public campgrounds are, well, public, you'll be in close proximity to other campers, not all of whom you might love. You'll also need to observe all the park rules, including drinking and pet restrictions, quiet hours, and group size.

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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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