Summer is the time for parties. Birthday parties, Holiday parties, and good weather get-to-togethers are everywhere you look. If you want to throw a party to remember, or one so people will come back next year, then you need to make sure you have these “to die for” items – especially if you live in the South.
These little buggers can ruin an outdoor party in a hurry. Luckily you have a few options when it comes to killing or mosquitos.
The first thing people think about in mosquito control is their own bodies. You might can just use the can of bug repellent that gets sprayed everywhere, but that may not be the best option for your guests. Many guest will take care of this own their own, but a good host will provide care to those guest that forgot.
- Off Botanicals Spray – This is what I use personally. It doesn’t have a strong odor, and it is lighter and less greasy than the original sprays. I have eczema, so I try to put only natural products on my skin. I also spray it on my clothes and have never noticed any spotting or staining. It does look like this product is being phased out in favor of their “Family Care” line.
- Bug Repellent Wipes – This is what my mom uses, and I have to say that when I run out of my botanical spray, I will probably get these. When you have the wipes, you don’t get spray in your mouth, eyes, nose, plate, and well – everywhere. You just open and wipe the exposed skin. It is also light and airy.
- Clip – Ons – I found that these did not work, but for our last hurricane, all the National Guard and Power Company employees has these. There must be something to it that I didn’t do right, or maybe it was the brand I used. This is definitely great for the people who have sensitive skin. These get real fancy, too. They come in bracelet styles, and you can even get them with fans to circulate the repellent.
In my area, you can get the parish mosquito control unit to come out and spray before your outdoor wedding or other special get-together. But if the price is too high, or you just like to do it yourself, there are many options to choose from.
- Plants – This is the perfect solution for someone who gardens as well. If you have your lawn sculpted by someone else, no problem, just have them artfully throw these beneficial herbs around in your landscaping. Basil, Lemon Balm, Catnip, Marigold, Lavender, and Mint are just a few of the plants that will naturally repel bugs and sweeten up any outdoor party. You don’t need a large garden, either. Most of these herbs can be easily grown in pots.
- Insect Traps and Lights – I have no experience with the traps, but I have been to many an out door party that had “bug zappers”. The zappers never really seemed to work. Yes, they killed thousands of insects, many moths, and the occasional lizard, but we still had bugs biting us. What is the point in all the murder and mayhem if people are still fighting the bite?
- Citronella Candles and Torches – You can get these cheap from your local store, or get the decorative torches from your local hardware store. There is debate on the efficacy of them. I will be honest and say that I haven’t used them much. The parties that I have been to that had them had them sparsely placed throughout the backyard. They didn’t seem to work much. From what I see, you have to get ones with actual Citronella. The Citronella “Scented” ones don’t work. Size also matters, with ones having a larger surface area working the best.
- Sprays – There is always the old standby – poison. It is pretty effective, but not the best choice is kids are playing in the sprinkler or adults are engaging in games in the yard. I won’t get into the debate of the safety of such products. Once again (because we live in a capitalist, free-market society), there are many options to choose from. You can get ones that attach to your garden hose, foggers, or garden sprayers. Just make sure to spray it in time for it to completely dry before your shindig starts.
The best parties have things for people to do. Especially if you are inviting people who know you, but don’t really know each other. Having games to play gets everyone loosened up and gets the conversations flowing. You don’t want a party where the only thing to do is watch the dogs play or talk about the weather.
- Washers – You can make this yourself and here is how. People I know will decorate the boards with favorite sports teams, but feel free to do your own thing. Its similar to horseshoes and at the parties I have been to, people are always on the board.
- Horseshoes – It may seem old fashioned, but many parties still through the horseshoes. It is still just as fun as it used to be. The team style of the game gets the party started and keeps it going for hours.
- Darts – Whether you just get a manual board and scoreboard set or a digital game with automatic score keeping, darts was, is, and always will be a popular party game. Just make sure you are responsible about placement. It is a real downer when someone loses an eye at your party.
- Board Games – I remember when Pictionary first came out. It was a staple at my families Barbecues and the occasional Cochon de Lait. While the men set around watching the meat, and the kids played in the fire (I grew up in the country.OK?), the women were in the house laughing and screaming in out-right fun over the Pictionary board.
You don’t have to rent a blow-up to make sure the kids at your parties have fun. Let’s face it, the weather doesn’t always cooperate and sometimes you just don’t have the money. Instead, invest in items that are reusable. When getting those things, don’t forget backup games in case the weather doesn’t hold. Everyone these days has a Wii or a Playstation, be the house that dares to be different.
- Water Games – Sure, you could just set out the sprinkler, but why do that when you can really set the atmosphere. There are many water toys out there for all ages. You can have the toddler area and the big kid area.
- Croquet – This old fashioned game is still tons of fun. At my house, we still love to get out the old croquet set and play in the yard. it is also great when your teen starts hanging out with boy/girl friends. Keeps them out in the open and in sight. it is also a great ice breaker.
- Bounce Houses – It used to be that if someone had one of these in the yard, you knew they put out some money. Now, in most areas, you can rent these for a relatively low price. They have ones geared towards smaller kids, and even ones that teens and young adults will enjoy.
You don’t want to be the person that always brings a fruit or veggie tray, or if you host the party, you want something all your own. Try these easy recipes.
- Dorito Casserole – This is my mom’s recipe. It was always a hit for her, and it is always a hit for me. It is still the dish that I request every year for my birthday dinner, and a much requested dish in my house as well. Here is that recipe.
- Cocktail Meats – You may know these already. I am not sure if it is a Southern thing or not, so I will still put it out here. I love these. I hardly ever eat meat, but I can never pass these ups. You can make a crockpot with each, or combine them in one pot. Just put 2 packs of miniature smoked sausages or 2 packs of meatballs (you can also use 1 pack of each). Put them in your slow cooker with 1 jar of grape jelly and 1 bottle of barbecue sauce. Cook on high for 2 hours before serving. You can leave the cooker on low for the whole party, just make sure it the sauce doesn’t dry out.
- If these don’t float your boat, there are many websites out there to help you. Here are some I really like to peruse – Allrecipies.com and Martha Stewart. If you want a distinctive southern dish, try this, and this, and this.
I still love decorations. No matter how old I get, confetti, glitter, and streamers still put me in the party mood. here are some tips for cheap, easy decorations. Some you can even save and reuse.
- Dollar Tree – Don’t make the dollar store mistake. They are not always cheaper. I used to work at Dollar Tree and they have some real bargains. Everything is $1 and sometimes they have clearance sales where everything is $.50. When my daughter was a kid, this store was a must for her birthday parties.
- Oriental Trading Company – This magazine used to make its rounds in almost every office I have ever worked in. i don’t know if they still make a magazine, but they do have a convenient website that has tons of deals, bargains, and creative decor.
- DIY – You don’t have to be limited by someone else’s imagination, and you don’t have to go shopping at an expensive craft store. Walmart, Target, and other retailers have everything you need to put your guest in the mood. Create an original “themed” wreath, personalized confetti, collages, and more.
I hope this blog is useful to someone. I know some of it is “common” knowledge, but sometimes “common” knowledge isn’t all that common. Some of the things in here are things I learned over time. After throwing parties and realizing I should have done certain things, my know-how increased.
Thanks for reading!!
photo credit: Quentin Bonnet – AeroWorldPictures <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/69344655@N05/19531656720″>Carcassonne Fireworks in 4k</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>