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Everyone loves a memorable summertime get-together. Be it small or large, most of us have fond memories of good times spent with friends or family at a summer party. Here are some tips and ideas to make your next party unforgettable.

Choosing a good location is important, though the type of location you select will depend on what type of party you wish to host. If you don't feel like the hassle of preparing your house for guests, research the possibility of holding your event at a nearby park. Natural settings can be great for get-togethers, and if it's a recreational park, chances are there may be picnic tables, barbecue pits, and sports fields to make your planning easier.

Regardless of where you hold your party, your d├ęcor should be light & summery. Consider a fresh fruit motif, since great fruit is always a boon of summer. Tablecloths in solid colors or a bold fruit pattern, with matching napkins, can be a striking decoration. For centerpieces, take pieces of fruit that stand well on their own-for example, apples in various hues-and cut a small round hollow thick enough for a candlestick right where the stem protrudes from the fruit. Slide the candlestick into the fruit and you have an instant unique candleholder. Bunches of these candlesticks in entire "fruit candelabras" are eye-catching and whimsical.

An alternative for centerpieces is to take empty soda cans and cut off the entire lid (where the mouthpiece is). Collect wildflowers or vibrant Gerber Daisies, trim the stems to fit in the soda can, and place them within, filling the can with enough water to sustain the flowers. Place two or three small rocks in the bottom of the can to weight it. Take a small brown paper bag, place the makeshift vase inside, and gather the bag at the stems of the flowers. Tie the gather off with a bright ribbon. Voila! Beautiful flowers in informal but fun paper bag vases, a simple centerpiece for your table(s).

Simple, tried-and-true cuisine is best for these parties. Hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecued chicken or ribs make a great main course. Seasonal vegetables like corn, string beans, and fresh tomatoes are great side dishes. Keep it light! Fresh fruit salad, tossed salad with a citrus vinaigrette, cold pasta salads, or potato and egg salad are the kinds of foods people have come to expect-and to love-at summer get-togethers.

Upbeat music keeps the mood light and happy. For a more intimate gathering, consider up-tempo classical music. For a larger gathering, particularly involving family and close friends, consider Dixie Band or Ragtime styles. For a party at which there will be dancing, good old classic Rock n' Roll works well. If you don't want to constantly monitor entertainment yourself, hire a DJ or local band! The cost can be worth it to not have to worry about switching the tape or CD throughout the course of the event.

If you plan to have a very large party-that is, more than 100 guests-at your home, be sure to check with the town hall to make sure you don't need special permits for parking, or any other extraneous details. To save your plumbing the major wear and tear, consider renting a Port-A-John for the duration of the party. It can really save you grief, especially in houses with older plumbing systems.

Above all-be relaxed, and have fun. Your guests won't enjoy themselves if you are clearly not enjoying yourself! With summertime parties, the stage is set for a good time-summer is the perfect time to kick back and enjoy, and you needn't make your summertime parties tremendously formal to make them memorable.