En Plein Aire Affairs

Do an anti-rain dance, and pray against snowy weather: You have decided to throw an outdoor party for the holidays. With a few laid-out plans, your air-driven soirée may be the party of the century!

Tropical Christmas

Polynesian Christmas

If you find yourself in an Indian summer situation, go all out and have a Polynesian Christmas! Decorate your tree with leis and tropical or paper flowers, use green and red leis as gift wrap (and gifts), and decorate tiki torches as candy canes with red ribbons. Barbecue some ribs with a fruity basting sauce, serve pina coladas, buy pork-fried rice (add chunks of pineapple), and serve pineapple upside-down cake.

Winter wonderland

OK, so there's no deluding yourself: It's winter, and it's cold. Why not embrace the chill and make it part of your setting? Suggests Phyllis Cambria, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Throwing a Great Party, suggests serving stew in bread bowls, using an ice sculpture as your centerpiece and putting a Lucite topper on your table (or rent a frosted Lucite table) with blue lighting. Be sure to rent some outdoor heaters, too!

Go skiing

Create a ski chalet theme with a fire pit, hot mulled wine or cider, and a cold Scandinavian smorgasbord. Extend the theme by using mini stockings as flatware packets for your buffet.

On the border

We all love our margaritas during the summer, but how about bringing the Mexican theme to a holiday party? Break out your favorite Mexican fare -- think guacamole, chips and tacos -- and add to the ambiance with mariachi music (or a band, if you want to make the night extra memorable).

Garden party

Something about the holiday season makes us feel as though life is being renewed. Turn that into a theme with a celebration of earth's life using fresh flowers, fruit and plants. Spray-paint soup cans white and emboss with a monogram in your event's colors to use as utensil holders. Use mini paint cans to hold cocktails and sprinkle flowers across the tablecloths.

Tags: outdoor parties winter parties

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