Feliz Cumpleaños

Parties are nice, but a themed party will have your guests talking for a long time coming, if you do it right.

The Jackson Free Press is preparing for a little party of its own. We're celebrating our eighth birthday, and we're throwing a little shindig, a Mexican fiesta of a shindig.

First things first: food. If you serve food, they will come. For our get-down, we're planning a "taco bar." (See wonderful recipes for Mexican fare here, as well as some good taco info.) Guests will be thirsty, too, right? We're turning 8, but we're all adults here. Margaritas! And no good Mexican-inspired party is right without a piñata. Otherwise, it wouldn't really be a party.

We have a piñata, for sure, but instead of filling it with only candy, we've filled ours with things partygoers might appreciate, need or want during and after a long night out partying with us. Think playing cards, mouthwash, pain reliever and, possibly, contraceptives. Also, items in the piñata can serve as party favors or individual reminders for your guests of the wonderful time they spent with you. Buenos tiempos!

Did You Know?
• Piñatas originated in China.
• Spanish conquistadors brought piñatas to Mexico in their efforts to evangelize the natives.
• Star-shaped piñatas—the original design—had seven points to represent the seven sins of the Catholic Church.
• A donkey—a common piñata shape—has no significance. (At least we couldn't find one. If it does, tell us at [e-mail missing]. We want to know.)

Eight Party Rules to Live By
• Never forget your theme. Period.
• Unless you're willing to be at the mercy of your guests' internal clocks, setting an end time is just as important as setting a start time.
• You can do a good party on a limited budget. Keep your guest list small, shop at discount stores, or borrow things you may need from friends and invited guests. And if all else fails, have a potluck. (This works especially for something like a taco bar. "You bring the tomato; I'll bring the onions.")
• Send out invitations; how far in advance depends on how big your party will be and how far guests will travel to get there.
• Photos, photos and more photos. Ask guests to bring their cameras to the party and shoot until the donkeys come home. Start a Flickr account and share the username and password for folks to upload pictures after the party.
• Have a guest book or a cool sign-in sheet if you think you may not remember everyone. After the party, send out an electronic "thank you" card and a link to photos from the party. Polaroids are making a comeback, too. Say "cheese" and see it in an instant.
• Let party favors double as decorations.
• Guests, don't forget to thank your hosts. If you seem ungrateful, they may not invite you to the next get-together.


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