Americans plan parties for many reasons.
As in other cultures, many Americans attend partiesfor weddings and religious and national holidays.
But some parties are especially American.
For example, a group of neighbors may gather ontheir street to eat food,play music and visit with oneanother.
This is called a block party.
A woman might invite a group ofwomen to a party called a baby shower for a friend who is about to give birth.
Guests bring presents for the new baby.
Americans also attend tailgate parties.
A tailgate is the back end of a truck or other vehicle that opens down.
Tailgating parties are a big part of sports culture in the United States.
Friends bring food and drinks to a sports event.
They eat together in the parking area of the sports stadium.
They gather around the tailgate to eat hotdogs and hamburgers cooked on a grill. There is agood chance that these tailgaters will also be drinking beer.
Birthday parties are also very popular.
Many parents organize a party for their child around a theme.
We asked a spokesman for a party supplier called the Oriental Trading Company what the mostpopular parties are right now.
She says rock star parties are very popular for young girls and boys.
And she says Luau parties with Hawaiian decorations and clothing are very popular with adults.
Birthday parties usually include gifts and a birthday cake with candles.
In many parts of the United States,cupcakes have become a popular replacement for cakes.
Cupcakes are individual sized cakes topped with a layer of sweet icing.
Birthday parties can be low cost or very costly.
Some parents take their children's birthday parties very seriously,even when the child is tooyoung to fully understand the celebration.
One group of parents started a Web site called Birthdays without Pressure.They decided thatsome parents were under too much social pressure to plan costly parties for their children.
The group sees this movement as an example of America's culture of "too much stuff."
The group's Web site gives suggestions on how to keep birthday celebrations simple,meaningful and fun without spending a lot of money.
Their advice may be all the more helpful during this period of economic recession.