Whether you're putting on a backyard barbecue or picnicking in the park, throwing an outdoor birthday party for your 13-year-old requires careful preparation. Involve your new teen in the party's planning. Let her pick the theme, or ask him to handle the invitations. Coordinate with your child to plan the menu, choosing foods that will not suffer from lack of refrigeration, or which can be cooked outside and eaten immediately. Finally, make sure that you have the proper set-up for serving food, and that your 13-year-old's guests will have ample seating. Keep drinks cold in coolers, and have plenty of ice on hand.
Garden Tea Party
The spring and summer seasons bring out the best in your garden. Take advantage of your garden's beauty by throwing your 13-year-old an outdoor birthday tea party. Send engraved invitations by mail one month in advance of the party, and request that guests wear their best Victorian finery. Set your table in the most verdant part of the garden, and use wrought-iron garden chairs or antique dining chairs for seating. Dress your table with linen or damask tablecloths and napkins, and arrange roses, lilacs and peonies in cut crystal vases or old teapots. Tuck lilies and hydrangeas into the napkin rings, and use silver cutlery and china plating. Serve both iced and hot tea, iced and hot coffee, sparkling water and soda, petit fours, small tarts and finger sandwiches. Keep drinks cool by filling a silver champagne bucket with shaved ice. Light your table with beeswax candles placed in an elaborate candelabra.
Long, hot summer nights make sleeping outdoors an outright pleasure. Your 13-year-old may enjoy sharing a night under the stars with his best friends. Begin by setting up a large tent in your backyard, plentifully stocked with extra sleeping bags, pillows and blankets. Use extension cords to set up a television and DVD player in the tent, so that your teen and his friends can have an outdoor movie night. Kindle a camp fire, and provide s'more materials, hot dogs, skewers and other appropriate foods for roasting. Don't forget to provide a cooler of cold drinks and mugs of steaming hot chocolate. If you have a large yard, or if a wooded area lies nearby, guests can play capture the flag or paintball early in the evening.
Soda & Ice Cream Social
If you have a soda-making machine, concoct your very own sodas using simple syrup and water. Provide your 13-year-old and her friends with a variety of ingredients for flavouring their sodas, such as pomegranates, vanilla, basil, chocolate, key limes, strawberries, hibiscus flowers, cherries, blackberries, oranges and cinnamon. Instead of serving birthday cake, provide an ice cream bar filled with both interesting and classic ice cream flavours, such as cookies and cream, lavender, vanilla, honey, chocolate chip, Neapolitan, mango, Rocky Road, brown sugar, mint or chocolate. Guests can create custom soda floats, using these ice creams in combination with their newly created gourmet sodas. Serve at picnic tables generously shaded with oversized umbrellas.
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