There are parties and then there are parties -- the kind you remember forever, the kind people keep talking about for years.
No knock against the casual party where you just put out a few snacks and drinks. Sometimes all you want is to see our friends in a low-key setting. But for a really special occasion you want to kick it up a notch. Anyone can rent a bouncy castle -- and yeah, it's popular for kids and the parents who want those kids out of their hair. But if you're ready to take your guests on a walk on the wild side keep reading for some unexpected ideas they'll love.
- Rent out a carousel. If there's an old-timey carousel in a park in your city, chances are you can rent it out for an afternoon or evening. This is fun for both adults and for kids.
- Mariachi band. If you were planning to put out some chips and guacamole anyway, why not throw in a mariachi band? Make sure you have enough room so your guests don't feel the full force of up-close horn blowing, and talk with the band about shifting into quieter ballads as the evening grows later.
- Salsa dancing instructor. Get your more adventurous guests dancing with the help of an instructor. You'll want to find someone gregarious who's good at cajoling people into participating, and you'll want to make sure after you've all have a few drinks.
- Scavenger hunt/color fight. Two ideas in one post! These ideas are from Jordan Ferney, whose Oh Happy Day blog is loaded with zany and delightful party ideas. You can get color powders at SpicesOnline.com.
- Henna artist. Speaking of fun ideas from India, one of my favorite party ideas is to hire a henna artist to paint beautiful designs on guests' hands and feet. Unlike a tattoo, a henna design doesn't hurt and is not permanent.
- Lizard wrangler. This is an unexpected alternative to a magician. There seems to be at least one lizard act in every city. Check out The Lizard Guys from New Jersey.
- Bartender. For something low-key and sophisticated, consider hiring a bartender for a cocktail party. This will free you up for socializing. I was recently at a party where the bartender gave tutorials on mixing cocktails, which was even more fun.
- Burlesque. True story: My son's school annual benefit featured a burlesque act. Obviously this was a party just for the parents -- but it was crazy fun. A good burlesque dancer takes her art seriously, so make sure your guests are mature enough (not just in age) to handle it.
If you're looking for a mariachi band, salsa dancing instructor, henna artist, or lizard wrangler, check out Craigslist. For a less-expensive bartender, inquire at a bar-tending school.
Image via stuttermonkey/Flickr.