Bills to pay. Long hours to work. Relationships to stress about. Let's admit it: Being an adult really stinks sometimes. Remember when making your bed was your biggest "job" and the only thing you had to worry about was finishing your homework in time to watch your favorite show? If the pressures of adulthood are too much to handle, maybe it's time to regress. And what better way than a kid-themed party? Try one of these on for size and get ready to unleash your inner child.
The party: It's still hot, so break out kiddie favorites like slip 'n slides and inflatable pools for a wet afternoon. Computer engineer Dave Redmin, 30, felt like a kid again when he threw a similar party. "I think everybody flashes back to their youth when you talk about slip 'n slides," he says.
DIY details: Modern slip 'n slides come in several varieties including Heat Wave, Wave Rider and Splash Dunk. Most retail for under $35. Stake out a location ahead of time, like a public park or open lawn, and make sure it has a working water hookup. Also, bring a long hose -- you can find one for $20 or so at a hardware store. If you have cash to spare, throw in a few rubber duckies for the pools and set up sprinklers nearby.
Snack Time: You're going to work up an appetite after all that sliding: Serve classic childhood snacks like popcorn balls and ants on a log (peanut butter, celery and raisins). And Lindy Promotions event planner Jackie Geyfman stresses to "make sure the drinks are flowing." Keep your splash bash in high gear by serving the Water of Life: It's four parts Blue Curacao and one part vodka for a bright blue refreshment. To make things interesting, serve the cocktail in squirt guns.
Caution: While you may feel like a kid again, don't forget to take it easy. Says Redmin of his slip 'n sliding experience, "Your body is a lot more sore the next day when you're 30."
Video Fun Fest
The party: Invite over your pals for screenings of classic cartoons or favorite kid movies.
DIY details: Show "The Flintstones" or "Scooby-Doo" or maybe flicks like "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" or "Peter Pan." DVDs featuring seasons of "The Muppet Show" and "Pee-wee's Playhouse" retail for around $30 to $40 each. Remember: Anything that requires excessive cerebral activity is strictly off-limits.
Snack Time: Serve drinks out of paper cups and put out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for your guests (with the crust cut off, of course). And don't forget the cookies and milk.
If your guests expect a more potent potable, offer cocktails like Smurf Juice (orange juice, vodka and Maui Blue Hawaiian Schnapps), Captain & Coke (Captain Morgan rum and Coke) and a Mickey Mouse (lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce and vodka) to keep with the party's theme.
Caution: Spending several hours in front of the tube can get a little mind-numbing after a while. Break up the party by serving a round of drinks between programs, tailored to the next show, and take the time to reminisce.
The party: The neighborhood kids you used to play with grew up, moved away and got jobs -- but so did you. Here's where your (grown-up) friends come in: Round up the troops for a game night that includes flashlight tag, kickball or capture the flag.
DIY details: For tag, assemble your buddies and tell them to dress in dark colors and carry a flashlight. Then lay down the rules: Participants can't go outside the boundaries, one or two people are "it" (aka, they hold the flashlights) and the rest of the gang tries to make it to "base." If a flashlight beam hits you, you're out. The rules for capture the flag are similar, but lose the flashlights, try to steal the opposing team's flag and do your best espionage work to avoid being tagged or captured by the opposing team. And everyone knows how to play kickball . . . or do they? It never hurts to check ahead of time. As Geyfman advises, "research everything before you do it. Plan in advance."
Snack Time: Surprise your thrill-seeking pals with James Bond's fave cocktail: martinis, shaken, not stirred. Another option: Flash Gordons (gin and lemon-lime soda). For food, order-in the ultimate kid treat: pizza with extra cheese. Desserts of Snack Pack pudding and freezer pops are a must -- just remember to share.
Look out: If you live in a bustling area, find a local park, but check to make sure it's open -- and safe -- after dark. Rain? No sweat. Try a classic game of hide-and-seek inside.
The party: Brave the "wild outdoors" with your closest friends in the convenience of your own backyard. If you're in need of a semi-permanent shelter, a two-person tent costs roughly $35 or you can weather the elements in a cartoon-themed sleeping bag $19.
DIY details: Make theme pajamas a requirement and watch your friends try to one-up each other with the best get-up. Challenge your friends to a storytelling contest or play the classic kid game, Truth or Dare.
Snack Time: Pack lunchboxes, aka "survival kits," loaded with camping essentials like popcorn, brownies and marshmallows. Thermoses filled with hot chocolate (lacing it with vanilla rum is optional) will keep everyone warm. For the main course, rough it by roasting hot dogs and a few ears of corn on a portable grill -- it's safer than building a fire. Melting S'mores for dessert is the perfect finish to the meal. The next morning, make the long journey back inside and treat your friends to Mickey Mouse-shaped waffles (the waffle iron is $50 at most cooking stores). Your parents would be proud.
Caution: Bad weather happens, but it is no reason to cancel a party. Take the fun inside if it rains and camp out in the living room. Hold board game tournaments for Battleship, Monopoly and Candy Land and cook on the stove instead of the grill.
Whatever party theme you choose, lay down a strict rule forbidding partygoers to talk about work, bills or any adult stresses. Violators will be forced to take a "Time Out" in the corner.