Theme party: Proud to be Canadian

Enjoy some casual fun that packs a patriotic punch!

By Christine Picheca

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Cold drinks, great food on the grill and casual fun are on the menu for Canada Day. Here is a plan for casual backyard entertaining with some patriotic panache!

Invitations:
Start by getting the gang in the mood. Canadians are laid back people that love the outdoors, especially when the sun is shining, so keep it casual and light and you will set the tone right out of the gate. Send out red maple leaf shaped invites for a late afternoon BBQ and some outdoor fun.

Décor:
Let your décor shout out with national pride. Nothing is more nostalgically Canadian than patio lanterns strung up around the deck or across your yard; even better if you can find them in red and white. Make yourself a patriotic garden by pitching wooden stick-mounted Canada flags in garden pots and flower beds. Have extra flags on hand, they're fun for the kids to wave and take home, too. Look in dollar and party packaging stores for decorating ideas and inexpensive seasonal décor ideas. If you're feeling more ambitious, plant small terra cotta pots of red geraniums or red and white impatiens as centerpieces for your tables. At the end of the night you can offer them to your guests and they can bring a patriotic pot home. Pull out your garden torches and don't forget the citronella -- you don't want the mosquitoes putting a damper on your fun.

Music:
Continue your homage to our great nation by loading your MP3 player with a compilation of great Canadian artists such as Avril Lavigne, Joni Mitchell, Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip, Gordon Lightfoot, The Guess Who, Sarah Harmer and Barenaked Ladies. The extent of our homegrown talent means the list can go on and on. Check out CanEHdian.com for music ideas and downloads.

Drinks:
When the guests arrive start them off with a tribute to a great Canadian invention: the Caesar. A classic Canadian cocktail, the Caesar is delicious to drink, a great appetizer and the tomato-red colour suits your patriotic theme! Afterward, be sure you have plenty of your favourite cold brews on hand; check out a local brewery to find an authentically Canadian quaff. For non-alcohol drinkers, try Watermelon Slush in paper cones. It's great for the little ones to slurp up on a hot July day.

Menu:
Feeding your group is a breeze with this great barbecue menu with lots of choices for everyone's taste. This menu for eight is designed to be casual fare with appetizers and kids in mind. Everyone can eat when they're hungry and have exactly what they like. Let a red and white checked tablecloth set off your scrumptious buffet and complete your décor. For a simple ending to your meal, big scoops of strawberry ice cream in cones are sure to please the little ones. If you have more time on your hands, these Canada cupcakes are sure to be a hit and will add to the casual fun environment you have created.

Activities:
Looking to keep the kids entertained? The horseshoe pit, a Canadian cottage classic, comes to the rescue. Set up a plastic set in the lawn and the kids will keep themselves entertained for hours. Lawn bowling, lawn darts and croquet are also great backyard pastimes that will appeal to kids and adults alike.

End your night with a homemade fireworks display. Choose red and white crackers for extra patriotic punch. Keep water and a bucket of sand on hand for safety. Make sure you have adequate space away from trees, overhead wires and rooftops and enough distance between your display and your audience. Don't forget the sparklers -- they're great entertainment for the kids. If you don't have the space, check out local listings for nearby displays and plan on a group trek for a viewing.

Have a great time and Happy Canada Day!

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