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Three Totally Not-Boring Themes For Your Next Bridal Shower

So you're planning a bridal shower -- and everyone says you need a theme. "Around the Clock." "Home and Garden." Yawn! There aren't many times we get to be silly and girly in this world, so a bridal shower shouldn't be wasted. Make sure it's genuinely fun. It's simple --- just think about what makes your bride special, and let yourself loose with the theme.

Here are a few ideas to charge up the noggin and organize something unique. "Like High School But Better." Revive some great times by tipping your hat to the bride's high school days. Look up all those slightly embarrassing hits from the year she graduated -- let's say the 80s. (Create a gift CD of same for all your guests -- they'll secretly savor them when no one else is around.

) Yes, they still make banana clips! Pass them out, along with big, dangly inexpensive hoop earrings and loads of jelly bracelets (remember? You wear about a hundred on each arm, a la vintage Madonna). Slather on the pink, blue and green eye shadow, metallic nail polish and bright blue mascara. Play the soundtracks from Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles. Now for the games: segment a flashback classic, such as Madonna's "Holiday," into three or four CDs. Divide your guests into the same number of groups, and challenge them to come up with a dance routine to fit their part of the tune. Bring them back together in 10 or 15 minutes to perform their mini-masterpiece before a video camera you've set up for the occasion. Tape everyone's routine in order. Give a prize to the best choreographers (actually, give a prize to everyone for being a good sport). Together, you've created a music video that no one could forget. With any luck, it'll mysteriously show up at the reception.

Wine and Chocolate Sometimes, when you tour a bunch of vineyards in wine country and you're really lucky, you hit upon "wine and chocolate" day. But you don't have to wait to hit the jackpot -- you can organize your own. Plan an easy afternoon of popular, easy-drinking wines like Merlot and champagne, and ask each guest to bring a creative form of chocolate. Some of our favorites: chocolate croissants, chocolate papaya crepes, chocolate-covered ginger, and yes, jalapeno brownies. But don't stop with the food -- make an outright bordello of it. Pile lots of velveteen pillows around the room, drape the walls with heavy fabric, burn a bit of incense. Put on some soothing Moroccan music, and arrange a few flowers in plum colored pails or vases you've dressed up with groovy gold fringe. Now pass out those beverages in pretty glass flutes, dropping a rose petal in each one. Then dig in! (Have doggie bags at the ready for blissed-out guests who want to enjoy the spoils later at home). Occupational Hazard Few things are more flattering than having your friends develop a party around your job.

After all, you spend day in and day out there, and what you do is probably pretty important to you. Is the bride a teacher? Hand out apple-shaped candles as favors . and place them in brown paper lunchbags. Give her a chalkboard eraser "to erase any grudges" after she's married: spray paint the top gold or silver, and have everyone sign it with a Sharpie. Sew or glue together a quick clip-on or bandana for her dog's collar that reads, "Teacher's Pet." Is your bride an attorney? Hire a Judge Judy impersonator (yes, they exist!) to make a showing. Ask each guest to "submit a brief" -- a gift of lacey underwear for the honeymoon, accompanied by a personal note to wish the bride well. More Ideas for Exciting Showers Christmas in July: Place the bride's gifts under a big, frou frou artificial tree you've hung the guest favors on. Serve iced eggnog and mocha-cinnamon smoothies. Everyone loves Christmas .

especially when you've had a break from it, and don't have to agonize over what to buy the boss. Dancing Queens: Dress up in big, pouffy prom dresses from the past (you'll find them at every thrift store), super-glam makeup, even tiaras. Lay on loads of body glitter. Head out en masse to your neighborhood restaurant or karaoke bar and toast the bride as she opens her gifts. Cheesecake Party: Ask your guests who their favorite hunk is. Serve mini-cheesecakes in lots of different flavors (Baileys and orange, amaretto, chocolate fudge), and place a framed photo of their favorite "cheesecakes" next to each serving platter, with a special label: "Brad Pitt Blueberry," "Creme de Menthe Mel." Get inventive with the descriptions. Borrow or rent the biggest espresso machine you can find, and serve up steaming coffee drinks. Whatever you end up going with, don't be afraid to be creative.


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