Right about now you and your kids are probably a bit sick of winter. (I know I am.) What if your son wants to wear his favorite tank top? I’ve got the perfect occasion:
a picnic. Yes, a picnic! Indoors, of course. Why not give this a try?
Invite friends and family. Announce this party the old-fashioned way by sending colorful invitations a week or so in advance. If luau-themed ones aren’t available, choose stock with lush greens, sunny yellows or Caribbean blues. Create the illusion of warmth with tropical stickers, available in craft stores.
Have the kids draw palm trees, beaches and butterflies. Make sure to say that the dress code is shorts and T-shirts. And it’s not a picnic without wildlife, so encourage younger children to bring a stuffed animal. (For once the sunscreen can be left in the drawer.)
Come up with a fair-weather menu. The drink list (if you’re inviting responsible friends over age 21) could include margaritas or mojitos, or non-alcoholic equivalents. Impress everyone with fruity concoctions with coconut and umbrellas, or stick to lemonade and iced teas. Get creative by freezing different flavors of Powerade in ice cube trays to perk up clear sodas.
For food, concentrate on warm-weather favorites like macaroni and potato salads, baked beans, garden salads (splurge on organic because it’ll most likely be the only flavorful kind this time of year), hot dogs and hamburgers. Don’t forget condiments like pickles and relishes, too. Desserts like key lime pie or chocolate peanut butter icebox pie are bound to be refreshing with the heat.
Set the scene. Decorate your house with beach towels, lawn chairs or any other summer paraphernalia you dig up. Print out and hang some photos from warm-weather vacations. Before the party, put out any old photo albums you’ve got to prompt tales of summers gone by.
Jack up the temps and spin some tunes. Prepare your house about an hour before guests arrive by turning up the thermostat, at least to 75. Now the shorts make sense and the snow outside the windows can be ignored. Scoot chairs to the side and put some blankets on the floor.
Put together playlists that remind us of lazy summer days. (See suggestions in the sidebar.) Better yet, get the party started by holding a dance contest, with the most popular songs of summer.
Play games. Since swimming is out, have fun with indoor games. Board games can work, and actual outdoor games are an option if you adjust them. (I know I’d like my house to remain standing after the party.) Here are a few ideas.
Going on a Picnic: This is a memory game. Have everyone sit in a circle on the floor. One person starts by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing. . . ” The next person repeats the phrase, continuing it with the object the person before is bringing before saying what he or she will bring. This becomes more difficult as the list grows. The winner is the person who remembers the most.
Hats Off: This involves tossing ping-pong balls into various hats tacked onto a cardboard base. The winner is the one who can score the most in three minutes.
Plastic Bowl Sock Toss: Set up mixing bowls in a line, labeling them 10, 20, 30, 50 and 100, with the farthest bowls earning the most points. Use balled-up socks for each turn try to see who can get to 500 first.
Throw and Clap: Throw a soft ball up in the air and count how many times you can clap before you catch it.
Grill with gusto. Go ahead and dig out and use your grill! The smell of barbecued foods will help lift everyone’s spirits. If you’re not willing to go that far, you can still make some great barbecue using your broiler.
Enjoy your friends and family. A small party can remind everyone that spring is just around the corner. And if it isn’t, well, at least you won’t need any bug spray.