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Food & Dining

(BPT) - Patriotic celebrations, neighborhood block parties, graduations, bridal showers and family reunions - whatever your summer soiree, a creative theme can elevate any gathering from fun to fantastic. If you've done the usual - luau, ethnic and red-white-and-blue - and are looking for motifs that will really make a splash, here are six unique themes and some ideas for implementing them with style this season:

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Add some creative themes to your cook-out

1. Star-spangled movie night

Summer patriotic celebrations can be pretty formulaic if you just serve burgers and hot dogs while watching fireworks on TV. But merge patriotism with film, and you can create a memorable, magical party. Break out the red-white-and-blue bunting, rent some velvet ropes and stanchions like you see in a theater, pick up a projector, screen and popcorn machine from your local rental store, and spend the day reveling in patriotic-themed movies.

Your local rental store has everything you need to create a star-spangled movie night. Find a rental store at rentalhq.com. Not sure what to show? "Captain America" and "Independence Day" are thrill rides that both kids and adults will love. Or, tug at the heart strings with sports-themed, all-American movies like "Miracle" and "Field of Dreams."

2. A day at the carnival

Whether you're looking for an inspired block party idea or a kid's birthday party theme that will leave parents and children talking about it until winter break, you can't beat a carnival theme for summer fun! Serve up traditional carnival fare - rented hot dog and popcorn machines will come in handy - and break out the carnival games. From favorites like the ring toss, dart/balloon board and duck ponds, to inflatable bounce houses and dunk tanks, you can rent carnival games to create a one-of-a-kind backyard event.

3. Summer snacking soiree

Beach time, vacation, warm weather and sunshine are all lovely aspects of summer, but let's face it - summer snacks are the highlight of the season. Adults and kids alike will love a menu that highlights some of their favorite warm-weather snacks. Set up a s'mores station with graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars and a camp fire (under adult supervision, of course). Place popcorn, hot dog, frozen drink and ice cream machines around the backyard. Celebrate summer fruits like watermelon and avocado with creative recipes like watermelon fruit pops, fruit bruschetta, fruit skewers and hummus/guacamole dip.

4. Whacky water world

When the temperatures soar, everyone loves some water fun. Invite guests to bring their bathing attire and visit your backyard for some whacky water fun. Fill balloons with water and hang them from a tree branch to create a wet, wild pinata. Rent an inflatable water slide, a misting fan, dunk tank and bubble machine. As guests arrive, equip each with a water gun. Have plenty of water barrels around the yard for quick refills and don't forget to have plenty of towels on hand.

5. Karaoke dance-off

Dance party or karaoke - which musical theme should you choose? Why not combine the themes and give your guests a chance to belt out their favorites while their friends shake it on the dance floor? Your local rental store can provide the karaoke machine, juke box and dance floor - your guests bring their creativity. Escalate the fun and add a touch of competition by inviting guests to dress and perform in the musical style that was in fashion when they graduated high school (or kindergarten or grade school for younger attendees).

6. Stadium day

Watching the big game together is a great party theme any time of year. Add a singularly summery element to your game day celebration by staging it outdoors in a homemade stadium setting. You can rent bleachers and a big screen to make guests feel like they're right there in the stadium as they're watching the game together. Add in food machines to make traditional stadium fare like hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and burgers. Decorate with banners, pennants and flags. Set up a portable bar beside the bleachers and you're all set for a stadium-style experience in your own backyard.

Creative themes can add fresh excitement to virtually any summer gathering. To find a rental store with everything you need to execute a unique theme, visit www.rentalhq.com.

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