Choosing Party Venues

Campsites fill up quickly, so be sure you reserve yours as far ahead of time as possible. Many state parks will take reservations over the Internet, so Google your state and see what you find. Many such websites offer important information about amenities, as well as a visual layout of the campground, allowing you to select a specific site.

Camping is enough of a challenge without making the experience more difficult than it needs to be. Unless all your guests are seasoned pros, consider selecting a campground that offers bathrooms and showers, evening activities, and ample parking, preferably away from your campsite.

When you call to reserve your campsite, ask the park ranger about any dangers, such as bees, bears, snakes, poison ivy or oak, stinging nettle, or rapid-moving waters. When you extend your invitations, be sure to let your guests know of these dangers so they can take appropriate precautions.

Also consider the nature of your party: Will your friends prefer to live it up into the wee hours? A camping trip at a public campsite might not be the best choice for you and your pals, unless you enjoy being visited (and kicked out!) by the park ranger. If your friends enjoy good clean fun and are able to limit their giggling to approved hours, then camp away!

A camping trip is in itself a party; do you really need a reason to rough it for a few days? However, if you must find an occasion to celebrate, plan a camping trip for a birthday, reunion, or anniversary.

You Can Take it With You
Outdoor revelry has its own set of challenges, and a good hostess will plan accordingly. Yes, it would be nice if your guests brought everything they needed to enjoy the event, but as the hostess, it's your job to make sure you have the following:

  • Several bottles of waterproof sunblock
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Insect repellant
  • Pre-moistened towelettes (baby wipes are perfect)
  • Toilet paper (you never know!)
  • First aid kit, including a pain reliever and antihistamine for allergy sufferers
  • Matches
  • Corkscrew and bottle opener
  • Ice chest with plenty of ice
  • Collapsible chairs
  • Tablecloth
  • Picnic blanket
  • Grill, charcoal, and lighter fluid
  • Extra paper plates, napkins, cups, and cutlery
  • Trash bags
  • Frisbee, soccer ball, a puzzle, and/or travel-sized games
  • Blankets or sweaters for when it cools down
  • Wildlife guide book
  • Binoculars
  • Camera, with extra batteries and film
Yes, your friends might mock you for being over-prepared; taunt them by holding the aloe vera gel just out of reach when their sunburn begins to itch.

Finally, using a web-based invitation system, such as www.evite.com, is a great way to make sure you don't wind up bringing all the gear. Ask your guests to volunteer for a particular tool and/or foodstuff, and then sign up when they RSVP on the website.

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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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