Couple at the pool

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Okay, we know New Year's resolutions are made to be broken. After the dizzying, high-pressure holiday frenzy, no one should be authorized to make long-term promises. Summer, on the other hand, is a more reasonable, less-crazed, bite-sized chunk of time. Think about spending the next three months working from a list of short-term resolutions. But let's refresh this tradition for the season, with lighter, sexier promises. For instance, take advantage of the warm-weather social whirl to become the goddess of something new (flirtation, friendship, style?). Go all out—but not by tossing a lot of cash around or forcing the issue with rigid plans and expectations. Just maximize your summer opportunities with a personality blitz.

Three Ideas to Get You Started:
Couple on the beach

Photo: Thinkstock/Ciaran Griffin

Have a Summer Fling with Your Partner
Remember the infatuation phase of your relationship, before the hassles, the baggage, the drama? Take a stay-cation from all that with some 92°-in-the-shade romantic enthusiasm. If you ignite the passion fuse, I'll bet your partner will eagerly reciprocate. It might just extend to an Indian summer of love.

Create your summer alter-ego. Break out your more sexy self, starting with flirting and blatant innuendo. Dig into the back of your lingerie drawer and reinstate your more revealing and fabulous items. Add a little surprise, like a bikini-top under your button-up. Drop little hints throughout the day such as, "Nice shirt. I look forward to taking it off later." And "That's a well-placed freckle. Got any more hidden away?" These are even more effective when delivered in a whisper, especially in a room crowded with friends or family and bustling, rowdy kids. Make your fling an exciting secret between the two of you.

Be adventurous, passionate, steamy. Keeping each other guessing ups your hormone rush. Anticipation increases the production of dopamine, whose mission is to keep excitement at a fever level. It's like a snowball effect (except snow is cold, and this is hot). You feel increasingly, mysteriously, magnetically attracted to each other.

Make an escape plan. Flings tend to happen on vacation, away from the dreary pressures of daily life. So rent a convertible for a day or hop a train away to a secluded location. Take a walk, hold hands, make out under a tree—whatever! If privacy's your thing, create a cabana in your backyard. It's like the tent-fort you made as a kid, only this one's for adults. Splurge on a pile of magazines, books and newspapers to read while sipping colorful cocktails and feeding each other frozen grapes. Slip a few suggestive notes in between the pages, the fun-to-find kind that say, "There's nothing else I'd rather be doing right now... well, maybe one thing!" Or "I love the way your neck smells."
Couple in the hay

Photo: Thinkstock/Vincent Besnault

Throw a barn dance, Sex and the City-style
Who doesn't love a romp in the hay? Square dances aren't for squares—it's like speed-dating to music. Everyone keeps switching partners, which makes the perfect stage to play the country coquette.

Even if you're nowhere near a pasture, you can turn almost any space into a barn burner. Get some hay, hang some stringer lights and paper lanterns and find a square dance caller (or a boisterous friend who's up for the job). Instruct him (or her) to spice up the usual with some flirty commands such as, "Blow a kiss, then allemande right." And "Wink to your partner, then promenade left." These make great icebreakers! You'll want some classic country swing— think Johnny Cash and Bob Wills, but mix it up with some Lily Allen tossed in for fun! Dress flirty-country (pretty, with a dash of unpretentious); the guys will (hopefully) wear tight jeans and a tan—ha!

Get some burlap tablecloths and colorful bandanas for napkins and prepare to stain them with barbecue sauce. Think casual with a little twist, like grilled corn with truffle oil, rosemary chicken Paillard (a fancy name for a chicken breast pounded flat with a hammer). Even grilled ham and turkey sandwiches topped with homemade jam (someone's homemade jam—doesn't have to come out of your kitchen). This is beer night, but go for midtown-meets-hoedown; include high-brow beer cocktails like the Shandy (equal parts beer and ginger beer), the Diplomat (6 ounces chocolate stout, 1 ounce dark rum, 1/2 ounce sherry) and the Michelada (beer, lime juice and hot sauce served in a salt-rimmed glass). And chew on a piece of straw!
Couple on pillows

Photo: Thinkstock/Jupiterimages

Bring the Entertainment Outside
Skip the crowds at the multiplex and take advantage of the warm evenings by hosting outdoor movie night, even if it's just a movie for two (perfect for date night). Announce the evening's viewing choice with a quote from the movie posted on the front door (such as, "My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." —Forrest Gump).

Rig the seating any way you can; follow the down-in-front technique. Front row—blankets, pillows and sleeping bags; second row—bean bag chairs, chaises, ground-hugging lawn chairs; and for the back row, drag out the sofa! Hang a white sheet for a makeshift screen if you don't have a large, light and smooth exterior wall available. Rent or borrow a projector. And why limit the program? Show a cartoon before the main event and schedule an intermission for dessert.

Fire up the grill for supper. But remember there's no law confining your menu to burgers, steak and chicken. Concession-stand mainstays like pizza and hot dogs taste amazing over coals. Jiffy Pop anyone? Create a popcorn buffet with every variety you can get your hands on: kettle, caramel, chocolate crunch and cheddar cheese. For the full Cracker Jack nostalgia effect, bury tiny toys and prizes in the popcorn bowls. And don't forget your old-time faves like Milk Duds, Raisinets and Dots.

You might find these easy-to-stick-to summer resolutions help you with your winter resolutions (you know, the ones about cigarettes, junk food and excess stress). Let's compare notes after Labor Day to see how you did. Have a blast!

Download the latest chapter of Allana Baroni's book, Get Social