By Lisa Cericola & Mark Mavrigian Posted May 4, 2009, 9:00 AM EDT
An Eco-Friendly Barn Party
Everyone's hopping on the green bandwagon, and this country picnic includes sustainable food and favors.
Down-Home Organic Eats: Serve a buffet of locally sourced picnic fare. Chicago-based Greg Christian Catering can make pecan-crusted fried chicken; farfalle with shrimp, vegetables, basil, and goat cheese; and lavender-honey iced tea for $50 a person.
Rustic Soundtrack: Get everyone in the mood with live bluegrass music. For Big Hillbilly Bluegrass in Washington, pricing starts at $950; for Foggy Hogtown Boys in Toronto, $2,000.
Fun Photo Op: Rent a bucolic backrop from Grosh Backdrops and Scenery in Los Angeles, or use farm animal statues from RWB Party Props in Orange, California.
Horsing Around: Play a few rounds of horseshoes. Toy manufacturer Schylling makes shoes in rubber that are safer for young players—$9.99 for two sets from Target.
A Piece of the Outdoors: Send everyone home with an eight-inch blue spruce tree in a branded cotton sack from Bonzolio. Minimum orders of 48 trees cost $10 to $15 each. Available only in the U.S. only.
A Winter Olympics Bash
The 2010 games in Vancouver aren’t that far away, and they make for a (ahem) cooler take on a sporty summer outing.
Game On: Hold relay races on a melt-proof synthetic ice rink from BH Skating Parks International. Packages include ice skates, a snow machine, music, rink operators, and all other equipment needed. Pricing starts at $25 per square foot.
Winter Wonderland: It’s not the Winter Games without snow. The T-1500 Mini Snow Zone machine from Snow Masters will sprinkle guests with faux flakes, starting at $415 a day.
Fun Fuel: New York’s Thomas Preti Caterers can create a Winter Games-inspired spread that includes Alpine Swiss chicken brrr-gers, Olympic onion rings, and frozen peanut butter hot chocolate, all for $75 a person.
For the Winners: Chocolate gold medals, 10 for $24 from Honest Foods.
And for Everyone Else: BPA-free sports water bottles from Identity-Links come in the colors of the Olympic rings. Seventy-two 20-ounce bottles cost $7.12 each plus a $45 setup fee for logos.
An A-Team Adventure
This ’80s throwback is—let’s just admit it—a bit silly, while being nostalgic for the over-30 crowd and just plain kitschy for younger employees.
Adventurous Activities: Unirec can customize energetic obstacle courses and games, including races where participants run with parachutes; the company serves the Northeast, and prices start around $2,000. Feet First organizes similar activities in California, Seattle, Phoenix, and Dallas, and can put together a group Tinkertoy building project, topped off with action figures (they have Mr. T); packages start around $2,500.
Set the Scene: Adorning a wall or activity area with camouflage netting hypes up the action vibe of the television series. A 10- by 14-foot section is available for purchase for $135 from Rose Brand in the U.S. and Canada.
D.I.Y. Tunes: It’s a cinch to find era-appropriate music to get guests on their feet (or, for many, reminiscing). The I Want My ’80s three-CD set costs $35.98 for 42 songs, including “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by the Gap Band. Order it with the A-Team soundtrack, which costs $10.98 on Amazon.
A Tongue-in-Cheek Dessert: Who says irony is bitter? A cheery Mr. T cake, like this one from Creative Cakes in Chicago, starts at $57.95 for a half-sheet and serves 35 to 45 guests.
Retro Gift: As a souvenir of the day’s outing, vintage-style T-shirts, $16.95 as shown, from TV Store Online can be presented to your own “A-Team.”