Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You Don't need the Summer Sun to Have Summer Fun!

You Don't need the Summer Sun to Have Summer Fun!

(guest post by Trudy Abood)

Is your family missing those hot summer days already? Are the cold wintery blues getting you down?

Well guess what? Summer's back! In fact, it never left. It's just been hiding away in our closets and cupboards, and especially in our minds! With a little effort and creativity, you can enjoy summertime fun all year round with an Indoor Beach Party!

For starters, lets get in the mood with a little atmosphere.
Setting the scene

Setting the scene is the most important part of you indoor beach party. There are lots of ways to create the illusion of summer inside. The best place to start is your back drop. An easy favourite is a beach theme. While you can choose to do other themes like pool parties, tiki bars or even calypso, many elements of these can be incorporated with the beach anyway. There are kits you can buy from places like amazon.com or party stores, but making your own can be fun, and the kids will love to help.

Simple things like hanging blue sheets for ocean and sky in the background with some simple cut out shapes for clouds, birds and sail boats go far once you get some more tactile decor in the foreground. Be sure to check Michaels.com for their weekly deals on craft supplies and coupons. This is where it gets really fun.

Indoor beach party

There are literally hundreds of do-it-yourself beach decorations that are cheap and easy to make, and you can find them all over the web. I'll go over some easy essentials, but don't be afraid to be creative. For starters, you can make a fun beach banner by grabbing some old, thick rope, (like the kind you see on old boats and rope fences) and stringing it across the room. Next, pull out your summer clothes and pin some up. Try to pick bright colors, bathing suits, tropical prints, etc. Add a few beach towels, too. You can even hot glue some seashells to the rope to give it the ocean-worn look! You can make a few of these if you'd like, and hang them anywhere you can. For more details and other ideas check out this page on ehow.com

Another must is of course beach umbrellas. If you don't have any, check around online classified sites or even local super stores for good deals as sometimes people are clearing out off-season gear to make room. A big beach pail full of sand should hold them up fine. Place the umbrellas over chairs or around the room as you see fit.
Take it to the extreme

If you can, one of the best things for the kids i an indoor beach. Grab a kiddie pool and fill it with beach sand (you can buy it in bags at most big box home improvement stores). You only need about six inches or so, just enough to build some sand castles. You can even warm it up ahead of time with a heat lamp for true authenticity, just remember to turn it off before the kids start playing. Throw in some pails, shovels, and any other beach toys you may have on hand. Grab a few spray bottles of water for making the sand sticky without turning it to mud. Also, you will want to set up a clean off station to keep the sand out of the rest of the house. Check out Lowes.com for play sand.

Some smaller yet key elements also help set the mood. Grass skirts are a cheap and easy table dressing. Just tape them around the edge of tables and counter tops. Most craft stores sell seashells in bulk, and little glass bowls full or even small piles next to snacks on tables add an extra touch of the tropics. Grab whatever you can think of. Beach balls, inflatable beach toys, patio lanterns, tiki torches (the indoor kind) and patio furniture all add extra atmosphere. And don't forget some beach music. Calypso and reggae really set the tone, but be sure to add some rock n roll and country. Whatever you associate with summer (Beach Boys anyone?). I'm sure you'll find everything you need on Itunes!
Food and Drink Essentials

Now that the mood is set, time for some refreshments. Traditional frozen cocktails like margaritas, pina coladas and daquaris are the best, and can be made alcohol free if preferred. Also have on hand some exotic fruit juices that you can mix up for the kids. Garnished with oranges and cherries and those little umbrellas, these are always a hit. You can even use tropical kool-aid for some funky colored drinks. drinksmixer.com has over 22,000 recipes to choose from, so you should find something for everyone. Now, just serve them up in some fun glasses and enjoy!

Setting the table

Last but not least, some good old beach eats. I've found the best way to go is Surf n Turf. Just telling your family and guests that alone draws images of warm summer days. If you are planning to have a main course, there are lots of options. If you have access to a grill, use it for sure. If not, broilers can simulate grills pretty well. Grill up some beef and shrimp kabobs, mini slider-style burgers, and some shellfish like mussels and scallops.

Keep things bite sized for ease of mobility and serving, unless you plan on a sit down dinner. There are tons of tropical inspired recipes to be found on the web. Be creative. Go through some with the kids and see what they think would be fun. Be sure to check your local stores for deals, but you can also hit sundaysaver.com to see where to head from week to week.

The other big food element is snacks. Skip the traditional chips or veggies and opt for some things like grilled shrimp, nachos and salsa, mini burgers, and tropical fruit platters. Most super markets carry pre-made or precooked varieties, but have some fun and try making your own. Remember, the web is a vast resource, and it is accessible from home, which makes it fun and easy to find recipes with the kids. Also, with making your own food, you have control over the ingredients. That means you control salt, sugar and fat content, as well as portion size. More often than not, it's a lot cheaper and can also be a fun learning experience for the kids and even yourself. I use allrecipes.com for ideas, but remember to check those flyers for deals!

Be sure to crank up the heat and encourage your family and guests to wear some of their wildest beach attire. Hand out leas (those colorful flower necklaces) for some added incentive. Get them to sport flip-flops, sunglasses and a beach towel to complete the look.

So there you have it. With a little time and effort, you can transform your home into a fun-in-the-sun indoor beach party. Hope it's a blast!

About the author; Trudy is the VP of GourmetGiftBaskets.com, one of the top suppliers of quality gift baskets. She is a mom of 2 boys, one of which founded GGB and the other is also VP at the company. She formally owned Chalifour's Flowers in Manchester, NH; the largest flower shop in the state.


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