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William Curry has been in the catering business for decades.

Still, whenever he plans for an event or even a personal family party, he makes a list of what he needs to bring and how he will serve it. If he puts lemonade on the list, he will put cups next to it.

"You need to be prepared," said Curry, of Heidelberg Township, who is semi-retired as the owner of Plain & Fancy Caterers.

Memorial Day on Monday marks the unofficial start of summer.

Here are some ideas for throwing family-friendly parties, whether you want to organize everything yourself or get some outside help.

WHERE TO GO >> Erica Thompson, a Springettsbury Township resident and the owner of a tea party business, said she often tells people that if they don't want to host a party at their home, there are a lot of county and municipal parks and pavilions to consider. The York County Parks and Recreation Department has an online pavilion rental system that lets you sort by park, date or pavilion. Visit the Parks & Recreation section of the yorkcountypa.gov website for more information.

THE FOOD >> Curry said keeping food at the right temperature is key.

"One of the worst things you can do is not protect things like deviled eggs properly. They're real thin. They get warm fast," said Curry.

In general, anything with eggs and mayonnaise is more of a risk for going bad, he said. Salads with oil and vinaigrette will hold up better outside, Curry said.

If you want to keep potato salad fresh, you can try this: Put ice into a large bowl. Keep the potato salad in a separate container and put the container on top of the ice. When people aren't eating the food, you can put a towel over the potato salad container.

Re-usable ice blocks are worth having, Curry said. Disposable chafing dishes and cans of Sterno are good for keeping hot food warm, he said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has tips. Hot food should be held at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer and cold food should be held at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Perishable food should not be left out more than two hours at room temperature or no more than one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

ANIMALS >> The Party Animalz Farm of Chanceford Township brings a petting zoo and pony rides to parties. The mini-petting zoo package includes more than 10 farm animals, such as baby chicks, ducklings, piglets and goats. The price is generally $250 per hour.

"It keeps kids entertained," said owner Brendon Kline. And he said it gives parents a little bit of free time.

THEMES AND CHARACTERS >> In addition to tea parties and luncheons, Thompson's The Enchanted Teapot offers princesses, ninja turtles and other characters.

One princess generally costs $100 for 60 minutes and adding another princess is an extra $75, according to her business' website. The characters can be booked on their own or as part of a package.

The Enchanted Teapot hosts adult and children's themed parties, either at people's homes or chosen locations, or at a Red Lion spot.

A $150 rental option for up to 12 people includes linens, teacups, saucers, china, cloth napkins, silverware, and other tea party items. That's for the mobile side of the business. Food costs more.

BOUNCING >> 3 Monkeys Inflatables is run out of a home office in Windsor Township and stores its inflatables south of Route 30 in eastern York County.

Pam Corsner, who owns the business with her husband, said inflatables appeal to all ages. "A two- year old will be just as excited as a 14- or 16-year old," she said.

Many of the moon bounces rent for $199, according to her business' website. Some other items, such as a 72-foot-long camo obstacle course and a 21-feet-high water slide, cost more to rent.

Smore's

The traditional s'more is made with marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers. Want to mix it up? Swap in a York Peppermint Pattie. Not a fan of that idea? Share your own s'more recipie with this story at flipsidepa.com.

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