After you have purchased the sunblock, umbrellas and volleyball net for your teen's beach-themed party, it is time to focus on an aspect that will be on the mind of many of the youthful and seemingly perpetually hungry invitees: what to eat. Whether land-locked or 20 feet away from some gnarly waves, well-planned food can elevate your teen's sandy soiree from OK to radical.
Staying hydrated is a must when spending a day at the beach, so make sure your teens have plenty of water available. Encourage teens to make their own smoothies and non-alcoholic versions of "beach" drinks, such as pina coladas and margaritas. Dress up your punch bowl by floating small boats in blue soda or juice, and top off your drinks with little paper umbrellas or beach-themed swizzle sticks.
Save yourself some time and get food that says "beach" right out of the package, such as fish-shaped crackers, sea-life gummy candies -- for example, octopus, shark, or fish -- or sea-salt potato chips. If you have teenagers with a sea-going palate, try seaweed sheets or crab dip. Easily add more of a beach effect by using smashed graham crackers as sand under your desserts or tinting dips blue with food coloring.
Keep food small and teen-friendly by serving a variety of snacks instead of an entire meal. Mix simple healthy snacks, such as horizontally sliced cucumber "surfboards," with more complex choices like build-your-own nachos featuring corn chip "sails." Consider barbecuing if you have the space, and wrap the party up with a time-honored beach tradition of a campfire -- or unscented candles if you do not have room for a campfire -- and s'mores.
Presentation is important at a party, so consider how you display your edibles. Look for beached-themed decor, such as a beach towel as a tablecloth. Sea-animal-shaped plates and bowls can often be found with party supply or children's tableware, and in the spring many discount stores have inexpensive serving items with a luau theme. Drinks can be decanted into tiki glasses or glasses with images of sun, surf, or sea creatures adorning the sides.