If you thought costume parties were just for kids, think again.

There’s no better way to spice up a summer barbecue than to give guests a dress-up theme. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated — in fact, my experience has shown that the broader the theme is, the more people will participate.

Last summer, I attended a pink party. The theme here was pretty obvious — partygoers were asked to don pink clothing and accessories for the occasion, and the more outrageous, the better.

Even though I already had tons of pink stuff, I took this as an opportunity to go shopping for something as quirky (and cheap) as possible, and I would definitely say that I succeeded: I scored a pair of sparkly pink jelly-shoes — topped with a rhinestone-centered jelly flower — in the children’s section at Old Navy for less than $3. Win.

I paired my new kicks with a hot pink skirt, a pink T-shirt with a glittery Las Vegas logo on the front and a headband adorned with a hot pink silk flower. Dang, I looked awesome.

The rest of the outfits ranged from subtle to completely over-the-top. Some people wore T-shirts with pink stripes; others wore hot-pink sports bras and heart-shaped glasses (and those people, believe it or not, were male).

Even the dogs that tagged along with their owners were decked out in pink collars and bandanas.

The food and drinks also fit the theme — red food coloring turned an otherwise normal cream cheese dip into a bright pink bowl of deliciousness, and strawberry lemonade made a great base for refreshing summertime cocktails.

It ended up being a really fun night. The silly outfits served as great icebreakers for guests who didn’t know each other, and it added an extra air of festivity as we mingled and enjoyed the warm summer evening.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.