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Published: Thursday, 7/6/2006

Easygoing Summer Celebration Ideas

There s an easy, relaxed and laid-back air about a summer party that you just don t experience at any other time of year. Getting ready to host friends and family should be just as easy and as much fun. Read on for some fast and festive ideas to get the party started.


A standout invitation takes minutes. Get a child s plastic beach shovel, and attach a card that says We d dig it if you could join us. Or buy an inexpensive pair of flip-flops, and glue on paper that says Stroll on over for fun and games at our place. These are lightweight and inexpensive to mail; just pop them in a padded envelope.


Dollar stores are great places to go for fun dishes, glassware, candles and centerpieces. You ll find lots of summery colors and images -- think beaches, palm trees, seashells. Since everything is so affordable, you can get all new things just for the party.


Serving a seafood margarita is a unique twist when it comes to the food. Just use a fresh, ready-to-serve seafood salad, scoop it into a margarita glass and surround with cut fruit of your choice. It s elegant and easy (and there s no alcohol, so everyone can enjoy)! Both Salads of the Sea and Santa Barbara Bay make delicious seafood salads, and they re at many grocery stores and supercenters. Get more information and recipes at www.saladsofthesea.com or www.santabarbarabay.com.


Liven up your lemonade with splashes of other fruits. Strawberries, raspberries and even blackberries can all be pureed and added to your favorite lemonade recipe. Try preparing bottles of a few different fruit purees and let your guests choose which they d like to try.


If you re having kids at the party, plan some simple games, such as who can blow the biggest soap bubble, hitting targets with water balloons, or watermelon-rolling races. Even the adults can join in on the fun!


For party favors with a beach feel, give each guest or family a personalized message in the bottle. Buy glass bottles with corks (also available at dollar stores). Write a message telling each person why they re special to you. Roll up your message, write the recipient s name on the outside, then drop in the bottle.

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