School's Out: It's Party Time

Can you hear it? The sound of blissful children everywhere getting louder and louder as the end of the school year approaches--you might also hear the sound of happy teachers marking off their calendars and planning their vacations.

Either way, the end of the school year is a wonderful excuse for a party, right? Try running with a theme and entertain kids and grown-ups alike!

Fun & Sun: The Beach Party

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Nothing says summer like going to the beach, but if you're not near the beach, that shouldn't stop you from enjoying a beach party! Bring the beach to you with festive decorations, the right food, and if you're up for it, a little sand and water, too.

Theme Decor: Beach balls, beach chairs, bamboo place mats, sand/river stone & candles, blues and yellows and whites.

Theme Food: Light sandwiches, veggie trays, fresh fruit, flip-flop cookies.

Flip-Flop Cookies are a fun touch and super easy to make using store-bought cookies and candies. All you need are some oval-shaped sandwich cookies, colorful icing, licorice strips, and small candies. Ice the cookies, then use two licorice strips cut to fit as the straps for the flip flop. Put a small candy where the strips meet to form the front of the shoe, and voila! 

Theme Entertainment: For kids, water guns and water balloons will go a long way, as long as you're prepared and have the space for it! For adults, a beach evening around a small fire or over some grilled steak will make for a great party.

Theme Drink: If you're hosting adults, you can make a cheap, easy sangria by combining red wine, orange soda (or orange-flavored seltzer), and frozen fruit.

Step Right Up: The Carnival Party

Carnival Party

There are few things that bring back nostalgia like a carnival or fair, and that's why it's the perfect choice for a party. Kids will love the fun theme, snacks, and games, and grown-ups will enjoy its throwback nature.

Theme Decor: Carnival flags, striped tablecloths, balloons, bright primary colors.

Theme Food: Popcorn, shaved ice, colorful candy (try a candy "buffet!"), corn dogs

Theme Entertainment: Unless you can build a pretty kickin' Ferris wheel, the best carnival entertainment will come from games. Thankfully, a lot of favorite carnival games are easy to set up even in your own backyard.

  • Darts & Balloons: A piece of plywood, a bunch of balloons, and a handful of darts are all you need to make this work. 
  • Ring Toss: Super versatile, you can use glass bottles or empty two liter bottles with a little bit of sand in the bottom (for stability) and plastic rings you can pick up in the swimming pool/toy section of your local store.
  • Duck Pond: A small army of plastic bathtub ducks, a permanent marker, and a kiddie pool and you're good to go. Write a number on the bottom of each of the ducks (1, 2, or 3), and assign small favors to each number. Pick a duck, win a prize!
  • Water Guns: Make your own water gun game with some laminated targets and sturdy water guns. You can even use food coloring in the water to make it more colorful!

Theme Drink: For the grown-ups, a cotton candy cocktail might set the mood quite right! Vodka, rosé wine, champagne, and actual cotton candy make this drink. Combine 1/3c vodka, 2/3c wine, and 2/3c champagne, then pour it over a scoop of cotton candy in a martini glass. The cotton candy dissolves and becomes part of the drink--it's a little magical and very sweet.

Keep it Cool: The Ice Cream Social Party

Ice Cream Party

An old-fashioned ice cream social with a buffet twist will make everyone feel a lot cooler, a lot sweeter, and awfully happy to be out of school!

Theme Decor: Think vintage ice cream shop for this, and you can't go wrong. Pastels and white stripes, cute napkins, old-fashioned cardboard bowls and cups.

Theme Food: Ice cream, cones, syrups, every topping you can think of. The most fun you can have is setting up an ice cream bar: A cooler full of different flavors of ice cream, a choice of cones and bowls, fudge and caramel syrups, candies, and sprinkles: set them all out and let everyone make their own treat.

Theme Entertainment: When it comes to making your own ice cream cone, entertainment is pretty much covered, but throw on some music and some comfortable places to sit to allow everyone the chance to chat and eat.

Theme Drink: Create an awesome root beer float that no old-fashioned ice cream shop would sell by adding dark rum to vanilla ice cream, root beer, and caramel sauce. That's not your mom's float, that's for sure.

It's a great time for parties--make yours the best and enjoy every second of it!

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