The surest cure for the winter blahs is a dose of the tropics. Luckily, you can bring them home faster than hopping a jet to the islands. Break out the fruity drinks and island music, and invite some friends over. Who can be in a funk while partying it up, beach-style? Use these tips to turn your living room into a tropical oasis.

Lighten up. Bright colors are key when it comes to decorating your party room. Use paper garlands, honeycomb fruit decorations, colorful fish, hanging foil palm trees, silk flower garlands and raffia table skirts. Lots of light will boost everyone's mood.

No shirt, no shoes, no problem! Encourage guests to wear flip-flops, Hawaiian shirts, sarongs and sunglasses. To really get the beach feeling, slather on coconut-scented sunblock, and you'll almost feel the rays of sunshine.

Do the limbo rock. Crank up the reggae music and let the fun begin! Have a limbo contest. Award the best hula dancer or hula hoop expert. Hold a tropical trivia contest with questions about the Caribbean islands, tropical fish or plants.

Don't forget the tropical menu. Fruity, blended drinks are a must, and remember to add a tiny umbrella in each one. Feast on fresh pineapple, mango and papaya. Grill shrimp or prepare a spicy jerk chicken. For dessert, serve refreshing key lime pie.


Recipes

Caribbean Jerk Chicken
Get ready to rock the grill with this spicy and wonderfully fragrant Caribbean Jerk Chicken. The zippy marinade includes hints of cinnamon, cayenne and thyme. We like to think of this dish as "chicken with attitude."
—Judy Kamalieh, Nebraska City, Nebraska

Fluffy Key Lime Pie
For a taste of paradise, try this light and creamy Fluffy Key Lime Pie confection. It's low in fat, sugar and fuss. Dessert doesn't get any easier!
—Frances VanFossan, Warren, Michigan

Tropical Fruit Drink
This yummy thirst-quencher with its smoothie-like texture stars strawberries, kiwifruit and mango. Pour your kids tall glasses of Tropical Fruit Drink—it's a good way to get them to eat their fruit.
—Janet Eggers, Suring, Wisconsin