"STAYCATION" Provides Fun Without Having to Travel

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Celebrating at Home Offers a Chance to Relax and Reconnect with Family and Friends.

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With a little imagination you can create a theme party for several or an intimate dinner party for two that transports your mind to a tropical beach or to a street café in Paris.

The rising cost of traveling and shaky economic times has led to the increasing popularity of people rediscovering their own backyards as a sanctuary or a vacation getaway.

"People are looking inward, realizing that home and family are most important, and are re-discovering outdoor entertaining at home as a way to reconnect with friends and loved ones," says Mike Voyles of Home Infatuation.

"With a little imagination you can create a theme party for several or an intimate dinner party for two that transports your mind to a tropical beach or to a street café in Paris."

Voyles also notes that the desire to blur the line between indoor and outdoor living will significantly impact lifestyles. With the shift towards casual entertaining, whether it is an informal buffet, a summertime party outside or a large family gathering, people are looking for one-of-a-kind items that will make guests feel more comfortable in their homes.

And the best part about your "staycation" is that it can last the entire summer. Here are a few ideas on how to create your own "staycation" paradise:

Use tableware to promote your party's theme.
The casual chic trend is growing in popularity with dinnerware as the focal point. Accessorize and create themes with tableware in different designs, shapes and colors.

Looking for something original and fun for your child's next birthday party? Perky patterns, luscious bold colors and contemporary shapes will make your table sing. Most outdoor tableware is made of melamine which is durable, lightweight and kid-proof.

What about a beach-themed supper? Tableware with natural earth/water themed designs offer an easy way to create a serene outdoor getaway. Centerpieces can be made with seagrass, starfish and shells. Place sunglasses by each place setting.

Give your guests a starring role with a celebrity-themed soiree. Ask them to come as their favorite celebrity. At each table setting an erasable ceramic theme place card with the celebrity name they choose will be waiting. Make your event memorable with a talent show featuring your guests' celebrity personas.

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Pass the lemon. Outdoor tea parties have always been a popular way to bring together girlfriends and are a wonderful alternative to a traditional shower. Decorate with flowers, candles and tableware and play soft classical music in the background. Personalized placemats and menu tiles -- designed with innovative materials from ceramic to polished stone -- are ideal for these special showers and can dress up a bare table with style. Placecards that offer personal messages are designed to make guests feel welcome or can introduce a three-course meal.

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Dine by candlelight, elegant lamps or party lights.
Lighting offers a romantic touch to an intimate soiree. LED-powered lights and silicone rechargeable candles create a cozy glow of a real-burning flickering candle without the flammability of a traditional flame. For decorating a buffet, flexible tea candles are ideal to illuminate though out your feast. Or create a striking accent by gathering them in a group on a table, varying their heights or arranging greenery around them. Outdoor "paper" lanterns offer subtle lighting and are perfect for all occasions because they lend a festive air to weddings, graduations, and birthday parties.

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Create the ultimate dining experience (or) Fire up your outdoor space. Searching for the most practical and fun way to cook outdoors? Today's grills can change your outdoor lifestyle as they offer a functional, usable space complete with all the amenities. Multifunctional appliances have designer looks -- and can take on the role of dining table, grill, wok and fire pit while bringing families and friends together.

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Create a secluded spot for two...or read a book. All alone or want to reconnect to your special someone? Create a calm respite in your outdoor space. The chic modern design of an outdoor privacy screen or artificial boxwood hedges are great for creating separate outdoor rooms and blocking the view of your next door neighbors.

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Or place an outdoor tabletop fountain in key areas through out the garden. The sounds will please the soul and attract wildlife. You can also create many "garden rooms" with each one having a dramatic focal point. Settle on a luxurious daybed or chaise lounge and watch your garden transform itself as the sun sets.

"Anyone can pull off a theme party with style," says Voyles. "From Mexican fiestas to Hawaiian Luaus, bridal showers to intimate suppers, casual outdoor dinnerware is ideal to dress up your special 'staycation'."

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Mike Voyles
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