Bring out Your Inner Party Planner!

If you’re looking to throw together the party of the century without a ton of prep time, don’t sweat it! You just need to be a girl with a plan if you want it to be spectacularly successful.

Permission, Please
Be sure to get the OK nod from your parents before giving the shout-out “Party at my place!” It’s their house, and you might need them for some moolah or even to supervise and help you shop for stuff.

Do Your Homework!
No, we’re not talking about catching up on that science project. Figure out what items you’ll need and how much it’ll cost so you don’t come out unprepared. Grab a notebook to make some lists: invite list, shopping list, to-do list, etc.

Look Who’s Coming?
Unless you want to have a full-blown huge party, we recommend that you invite no more than, say, a dozen close friends. A fairly small get-together means less food (and less money spent).

Get Down to the Deets
Plan out these questions in that notebook:

  • Will you decorate with a theme?
  • What food will you serve?
  • Will there be a dress code?
  • Which songs do you want on the party playlist?
  • What games and activities will you have?
  • Are you passing out party favors?

Just the Right Invite
Forget snail mail. Simply send a punchy e-mail or text message. Be sure to include all the details: who (that would be you), what kind of party, where, what day and time, dress code and if guests should bring anything. Ask friends to RSVP so you’ll know how many to expect.

Get Prepped … and Pumped
Break out your music and crank it up while you get your place party-ready the day before the event. Tidy up and get your decorations up. Arrange chairs in groups or pairs to encourage guests to sit and chat. Clear an area of the floor if you plan to have dancing. Put out any necessary items, such as favors and games. Get make-ahead dishes oven-ready.

It’s Party Time!
It’s the big day: Turn on the tunes, get your food ready to serve and let the fun begin! Oh, and have a camera handy. You’ll want memories of these rockin’ good times.

5 Fun-tastic Things to Do With Your Friends

Here, we’ve rounded up our favorite, fabulous activities to do with friends. And hey, you might even want to invite a few boys to join in on the action.

Squeals on Wheels
Let the good times roll! When’s the last time you and your buds hit up the skating rink? If you don’t have skates, you can rent them at the rink for super-cheap. No kneepads or helmets required. And don’t forget to take a break and wheel on over to the snack bar. Suck down your food and drinks, then back to the rink!

That Takes the Cake
Sweet frosting and colored sprinkles on chocolate cupcakes? Yes, please! Throw a Cake Bake and Decorate bash! For 12 cupcakes, you’ll need one boxed cake mix (read the package for other ingredients, most likely eggs and oil), ready-made frosting and sprinkles. For yummy extras, stock up on shredded coconut, chopped nuts, candy hearts, chocolate chips, broken cookies and M&M’s. Don’t forget the ice cream!

Go Green and Clean!
Hate litterbugs? Get outside and take part in a cleanup project! Community groups often hold neighborhood and park cleanups, so check your local newspaper or community bulletin board at the public library for these events. But you and your buds don’t have to join an organized effort. Just grab some garbage bags and rubber gloves.

The Perfect Ten
Get the gang together and challenge them to a 10-frame game of bowling. The shoes are weird in a cool, two-toned way, and what’s not to love about knocking down wooden pins with a swirly colored ball? Lots of alleys host rock-and-bowl nights, where there’s a band or DJ so you can jam to loud tunes while you play. Don’t worry about getting the winning score -- it really is just about having a … um, ball.

Show Troops Super-support
Many U.S. military men and women are overseas, and they appreciate receiving mail. So send some! To let the troops know you care, gather your friends to make homemade cards with inspirational messages. Mail your creations to:

A Million Thanks
17853 Santiago Blvd., #107-355
Villa Park, CA 92861

A Million Thanks is a letter-writing campaign started for the troops by a 13-year-old girl six years ago. It’s a wonderful way of giving a shout-out that screams, “Thank you so much for keeping us safe!”

Cheap Is Chic

It’s no big secret that the global economy is gasping for air. And that can certainly put a pinch on your just-for-fun funds. But it doesn’t mean you have to hunker down under a gray cloud of boredom. There are plenty of things you and the gang can do for a good time. No need to reach too deep into your wallets!

Dinner and a Movie
Round up the crew for pizza and movies at your place. Stash the carryout menu! Instead, hit the supermarket for shells (pita bread works great for pizza), sauce and cheese. Have everyone bring their favorite toppings and start the party in the kitchen. Heat the oven to 450 F, and let all your friends pitch in on the pizza assembly line. Bake about 10 minutes or so, then serve up some slices. Dessert? Try popcorn sprinkled with cocoa powder, cinnamon and sugar and munch on it while the movie rolls. Pssst…dim the lights.

Stay-at-home Spa
Get together with a pal for some pampering and a fresh glow. In a small bowl, mix up a moisturizing facial scrub of one-fourth cup brown sugar, plus one tablespoon each of sea salt, olive oil, honey and milk until it’s like a grainy paste. Apply with fingers in a circular motion to a clean face and leave on for 15 minutes before rinsing.

For a soothing foot soak, fill the bathtub up to your ankles with warm water. Toss in a handful of baking soda or Epsom salt, plus a dash of essential oil or vanilla extract. Sit on the edge of the tub and sink your feet in. Afterward, dry those tootsies, and polish each other’s toes with an eye-popping color while listening to soft music.

Swap ‘n’ Shop
Turn your bedroom into a department store. Clear your closet of all the clothes and accessories you never wear. Tell your friends to do the same, then gather up the goods for a grand giveaway gala. Stack all the sweaters neatly on a chair, group the shoes together, put jeans into a neat pile, hang belts over a door, display jewelry on a shelf. Make it look like an uber-chic boutique. After setting up, it’s time to shop…um, swap. No price tags because everything is free. Go at it, girls!

Sleep? Yeah, Right!

Sleepover! We absolutely get that you want your get-together to be more than movie marathons, microwave popcorn and sleeping bags. A-list event planners say great parties, big or small, boil down to a well-planned concept. Once you choose your theme, you can plan your food, get-ups and activities around that. Use one of our suggestions (or even mix a few), or let them inspire you to create something that's all about what you love!

Pink Pajama Jam
Plan your party around your favorite splash of color!

Party prep: Pink streamers, pink balloons, pink everything.

Dress code: Pink PJs, duh

Snack time: Pink lemonade, fresh strawberries, pink frosted cookies

All-night fun: Dance to Pink’s Funhouse CD, then watch Pretty in Pink on DVD while painting your nails...what color?

Bonus: Did someone say “pink pillow fight”? Gotcha!

Project Photo Shoot
Go for a fashion runway fantasy

Party prep: Set up a photo area in your room, living room or even garage by hanging a sheet and making that area super-bright with lots of lights.

Dress code: Ask everyone to bring the most outrageous clothes from their closets, then put it all out after they arrive.

All-night fun: Style each other in fabulous outfits, then crank up the music and have a photo shoot with a digital camera.

Bonus: Email an online photo album to all your guests the next day!

Munchies Madness
Are your friends famous for their snack attacks?

Party prep: Shop for pre-made pizza dough and all the toppings you can imagine. Make chefs’ hats in advance with white butcher paper and a stapler.

Dress code: Everyone brings a big apron (OK, oversized tees will work in a pinch) to wear while cooking.

All-night fun: Break off into teams of two, and each team creates a pizza with different toppings. Have everyone taste each pizza, then take votes for faves.

Bonus: The culinary genius continues with a make-your-own sundae bar for dessert!

Rock Star Glam-o-Rama
Music is always good for setting the mood.

Party prep: Do we need to tell you that you need Guitar Hero for this one?

Dress code: Tell all your friends to dress up as their favorite musicians. No biggie if you get three Gwen Stefanis and two Rihannas!

All-night fun: Set up a talent show, and have a prize for first place. It will be like your own mini Idol. Remember to take lots of photos, or better yet, make a recording!

Bonus: Have prizes for everyone for performing.

Sock Hop, Daddy-O
Get your rama-lama-ding-dong on with a ‘50s theme.

Party prep: Hang old 45-rpm vinyl records from the ceiling with string and thumbtacks.

Dress code: Tight cardigan sweaters, pedal pushers (that’s what they used to call capris), ponytails with scarves, bobby socks and classic lace-up sneakers.

Snack time: Burgers, fries, root beer floats.

All-night fun: Download Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, The Supremes and Sam Cook. Get everyone into two lines facing each other, then take turns dancing down the center.

Bonus: Hula-hooping contest!

School Countdown

Instead of freaking out about going back to school, be back-to-school cool. Give your brain a rest for now -- we’ve done the thinking for you.

1. Fashion Showdown! Break into your closet and figure out what fits from last year and what doesn’t, what’s still in style and what so isn’t. Put keepers away and pile the rest in a box for charity (or your little cousin).

2. Shop Till Ya Plop Hit the stores for new clothes (or uniforms, if your school requires ’em). Keep in mind what items you got rid of. If last year’s pants are too short but shirts fit … you get the picture.

3. Supply and Demand Pick up basic school supplies (notebooks, pens, erasers) for your first day, then round it out once you have a complete list from your teacher.

4. Compute This! Get your study spot all tidied up. If you have a home computer, be sure it has the right software updates and upgrades. If you don’t have one, get familiar with computer usage policies at the local library or your school’s computer lab.

5. What’s up, Doc? OK, shots are no fun. But it’s embarrassing to be turned away on your first day because your immunization records aren’t current. Ask your parents to be sure you have all the physical exams and vaccinations your school requires.

6. The Extracurriculars Planning on any after-school activities? Think about what sports or clubs you want to take on and consider dumping those that created too much stress last year.

7. The Route Most Traveled If you walk to school or the bus stop with friends, arrange a place to meet up in the a.m.

8. Be Prepared Whether or not you’re already menstruating, put together an emergency pack for your locker or backpack with tampons, pads and a fresh pair of undies.

9. Lunches and Munches Buying a cafeteria lunch? Have your money or tix ready. Packing? Hit the supermarket for your fave foods. While you’re at it, pick up stuff for quick breakfasts and after-school snacks.

10. A Little Alarming! Snoozing all summer can get you out of sync, so go to bed at a decent hour and force yourself to get up earlier. That way you won’t be so groggy when time comes for the real deal.