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Do It Better: Transform a Summer Gathering into a Memorable Event

By Joyce Venezia Suss

Entertaining in the summer is typically easier because events are more casual. It doesn’t take much to invite family and friends over for barbecues, pool parties, or simply drinks and snacks on the porch or patio. But with just a little more effort, your summer socializing can become memorable events. Here are some fun ideas, including many that can be done at the last minute:

• Have a “build-your-own” gathering, such as make-your-own pizza, burritos or ice cream sundae. 

• Search for “karaoke” on a laptop or tablet, and let everyone have a turn singing their favorite song.

• Bring out classic board games such as Checkers, Monopoly and Scrabble, or popular games like Jenga or cornhole. Or have a bingo night, offering small prizes for each round.

• Bring out a basket or box filled with shawls, scarves, hats, costume jewelry, ties, sunglasses, funny accessories and more for an impromptu costume party.

• Set up a wine or beer tasting. Search online for free printable tasting sheets, to see if there are clear favorites.

• Similarly, have a chocolate tasting – something that will appeal to all ages. Serve milk, dark and white chocolates; chocolate bark with different toppings; and assorted chocolates with different fillings.

• Celebrate Christmas in July! Set up a few holiday decorations, play Christmas carols, and have guests decorate store-bought sugar cookies with red and green icings from the supermarket.

• If you have friends over for regular gatherings, serve a different specialty cocktail each time, made with seasonal ingredients.

• Enjoy the dog days of summer with a pet-friendly gathering, if all four-legged companions enjoy each other’s company. Remember to put out several water bowls for thirsty canines.

• If there is a special sporting event on TV, invite friends over for a backyard tailgate, complete with hot dogs, chili, beer and chips.

• If you know someone who likes to dance, invite them to join your gathering and show everyone how to salsa, tango, line dance, etc.

• Buy a pinata at a party store, fill it with candy, and keep it handy. If youngsters are bored, you have a fun distraction.

• Have a book exchange, asking friends to bring books they read and are willing to either lend or give away.

• If you have a pool, invite friends over on a hot day to take a dip, and serve assorted dips with chips (ranch or onion), pretzels (melted cheese), celery and carrots (chunky blue cheese), and cookies and fruit (melted chocolate).

• If you have Lego blocks, set them in the middle of a large table and encourage everyone to construct something, either individually or as a group creation.

• More fun for all ages: Play-Doh – lots of different colors, with plastic knives, forks and spoons and other tools to create designs.

• To continue the crafty theme, invite freestyle painting by providing watercolor or acrylic paints, paper and brushes. Tape the completed creations to a wall or fence for an exhibit, with or without friendly judging and blue ribbons.

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