How to Throw a Great Beach Party

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From kid-friendly soirées to more mature get-togethers, a little planning and organization can help you pull off the best beach bonanza imaginable. Knowing what foods to bring, staging the perfect ambiance and curating a soundtrack can all make your beach party an event to remember. Devoting a little time to planning in advance will prepare you to throw a party with minimal stress.

Food for Thought

  • If you're planning a party for kids, whole fruits like apples, peaches and plums can easily be eaten and discarded. Dress up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich -- portable and not particularly heat-sensitive -- by cutting it into various shapes with a cookie cutter. For adults, cool, crisp salads that transport well make good, shareable choices. Set up a buffet in the sand with a collapsing table and allow your friends to choose. Keep food and drinks cold in a cooler and bring variety to the party with colored cups and fruit garnishes for whatever cocktail you're serving.

Decorate in Style

  • Late-afternoon and evening beach parties beg for inventive lighting. Tiki torches serve the dual purpose of keeping away bugs and keeping the area bright and warm. Choose a big, bright beach towel as your party centerpiece and surround your area with colored folding chairs and whatever other decorative touches you can find. Portable wood or plastic lanterns can add ambiance, as can appropriately placed shells and pieces of driftwood.

    For kids, rig a piñata by digging a hole in the ground and packing a large stick or tree limb in the sand. Fill it with individually wrapped candies and allow the kids to take alternating swings. An umbrella in the sand also provides a pop of color and necessary respite from the sun.

Play that Playlist

  • Don't forget the music. A portable MP3 player, along with an inexpensive set of durable speakers, will make any party buzz. Organize your playlist before you arrive by choosing a mix of songs that you think the crowd will enjoy. Set up a table or other sturdy area where the music is central to the party and the device and speakers are not in danger of getting wet or dirty. If you're acting as the DJ at a kids party, ask for input as to what songs the children prefer before you head out. Check local noise ordinances, which will vary by location, to ensure that you are allowed to play music without violating any noise codes.

Research First, Clean Up After

  • Find the perfect venue and seek out detailed information about it -- what activities are permitted, what the ocean is like and how popular the beach itself is. When inviting guests, prepare them for the type of party you're throwing. Advise them to bring towels, bathing suits, chairs or additional clothing if you foresee changes in temperature throughout the day. If your beach requires a reservation, make it well in advance, especially during the busy peak season.

    After the party, remove what you brought in. If you're eating on the beach, collect all of your garbage and bring it back with you. Setting up a trash area -- such as a large bag tied to a chair -- will help you contain the garbage so that it's easier to remove at the end of the day or night. Leave the beach exactly as you found it so that those after you can enjoy it.

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  • Photo Credit Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images ShotShare/iStock/Getty Images Michael Heimlich/iStock/Getty Images Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images David De Lossy/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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