Lucy Riles: With the economy failing, many people are taking their parties to a local park to celebrate. Why? It's cheap. It's outdoors. It requires very little cleanup.
Here's how you can make the most of a park party:
Wake up early: Since the park is a common venue, you will want to get there early to reserve the best space. I also recommend checking out the park the day before at the same time your party will take place the following day -- this will help you get an idea of the best shady areas. If you plan on having an afternoon party in the heat, you will want to keep your guests in the shade!
Create eco-friendly decorations and menu: Decorate with paper products instead of plastic, if possible. Instead of using balloons, make tissue-paper pompoms to hang from the trees --these are so much cuter than balloons, and they're easy to make! Plus, when you are done with the pompoms, you can reuse the tissue paper for future gift-wrapping. Serve finger food like mini sandwiches, fruit kabobs, chocolate-dipped strawberries and Popsicles. For refreshments, offer pitchers of lemonade (served in paper cups) as opposed to juice boxes and pop cans.
Stage "cool" games: Play games that will literally keep your guests cool. Pair everyone up for a water-balloon toss. For the kids, fill up some Super Soakers, divide everyone into two teams and play a little water-gun tag. The hot sun will dry everyone off before the day's end.
As a final touch: Before the kids leave, bust out a pinata and give each child a chance to knock it down. This also acts as a party favor: Everyone walks away with a bag full of toys and/or treats to take home and enjoy!