Lounge chairs. Beach balls. Your favorite music streaming on repeat.
When the weather heats up, there’s only one thing to do: Celebrate by the water.
What’s better than having everyone over to your house for a get-together? Taking the party outside, of course!
Specifically, taking it poolside.
While the result is more than worth it, planning the ultimate pool party takes work. From decorations and games to snacks and drinks, there’s plenty to consider.
That’s where we come in.
Today, we’re sharing a few tips on how to throw the party of the summer, right in your own backyard.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
Why Throw the Ultimate Pool Party?
With so many types of festivities to plan, why should a pool party be at the top of your list?
Five words: No one in your house.
That means no pre-party cleanup, no vacuuming, no wiping down countertops and no risk of anyone snooping in your medicine cabinet.
You also don’t have to plan an extensive list of activities. When you’re indoors, it’s up to you to keep everyone entertained. A pool serves as built-in entertainment. Buy some inflatables, a few toys for the kids, and everyone is amused.
In short, it’s one of the most fuss-free events you can host, and it’s the perfect way to ring in the warmer season. But, where should you focus your efforts? Here are a few considerations to prioritize.
1. Think of a Theme
Want to throw a celebration that your neighbors will be raving about for months? It needs to have a theme.
Start by thinking about your audience.
Maybe you want to throw a bash for the whole community, channeling your inner Las Vegas rockstar. Or, perhaps you want a more intimate gathering with your closest family and friends.
Consider what your audience would appreciate and enjoy.
Is this a celebration to mark the end of the school year? If so, plan a “School’s Out for the Summer” theme, using books as serving trays and napkins that resemble notebook paper.
Is it an adults-only fete? Dream up a tropical theme, complete with a drink menu full of island flavors. Or, plan an “Evening Under the Stars.” Turn on your LED pool lights, fire up the grill and serve guests in style.
You can also bring in colorful tableware, beach towels, and other props to pull it all together. And, if you’ve invested in landscaping around your pool, you can pull in elements from nature to complement your theme, as well.
Make sure your invites, either paper or digital, represent the theme, too!
2. Keep Clean-Up Minimal
You’re lounging, eating and drinking by the pool. That means it’s wise to nix the glassware and go for plastic instead.
It’s also wise to invest in a stack of colorful paper plates that you can easily toss when the party’s over.
A more eco-conscious route is to provide reusable melamine tableware instead. Impossible to break and easy to wipe clean, it’s the closest you can get to fine china without worrying about broken shards all over the pool deck. This way, you can keep your guests, as well as their four-legged friends, as protected as possible.
Once the temperatures start to rise, you can find such tableware on sale at almost any major retail outlet, so start planning now and save money down the road!
3. Plan the Appetizers
This isn’t the place for everyone to sit around a table for a hearty meal of chicken and dumplings.
Rather, one of our favorite pool party tips is to keep the menu on the light side.
In fact, it’s often easiest to stick with appetizers and finger foods, allowing guests to grab a bite whenever it’s convenient.
You can’t go wrong with plenty of fresh fruit and in-season veggies. Place a spread on a pretty platter along with a few dips. You’ll keep everyone hydrated and satisfied for the length of the party.
Other fun nibblers include:
- Cherry tomatoes stuffed with mozzarella
- Watermelon and mint salad
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
- Chicken wings
- Spring rolls
- Thumbprint cookies
Of course, be sure to adhere to food safety standards, especially when serving food in the blazing heat. Deviled eggs are great, but not when served with a side of salmonella.
4. Grill Out in Style
Of course, if you do decide to prepare a meal, there’s no better option than to fire up the grill. From hot dogs and chicken to brisket and burgers, you’ll have plenty of options.
Ask your guests beforehand what they prefer and let the answers guide the menu.
Perform a quick check of the grill before the big day to make sure all components are in working condition and that you have enough propane or charcoal to last the whole time.
Clean your grill grates, gather your utensils and make sure you have everything you need. Five minutes before your guests arrive isn’t the time to realize you’ve run out of gas.
Do you have vegetarian or vegan friends on your invite list? No worries! Here’s a quick list of grill-day favorites that feature veggies as the star of the show!
5. Host a Drink Bar
Whether your guests will be drinking alcohol or not, it’s always a great idea to have plenty of refreshing beverages on hand.
Make a drink bar and encourage guests to come up and grab one whenever they’re parched.
Kid-appropriate pool party drinks include lemonade, fruit juice, and water. Adults can choose from soda, beer or wine.
To add unforgettable style and flair to your menu, why not create a few custom cocktails for your event? Name a drink after a guest of honor or to commemorate a special event.
When whipping up your cocktail bases, you can’t go wrong with fresh fruit.
Think muddled citrus, watermelon, or strawberries. Then, mix in your preferred liquor, along with some herbs such as rosemary or mint, and you’ve got a sunny sipper that’s ideal for toasting.
Pro tip: Let your guests add their own alcohol if they prefer their drink spiked. This way, those who prefer mocktails instead can still feel like part of the fun. Make sure you’ve got plenty of water nearby, as well, to avoid dehydration.
6. Finish with Dessert
Don’t stress over a fancy layer cake or fire up a hot oven. Keep the end of the party just as simple and sweet as the beginning by serving guests desserts that are low on frills and heavy on flavor.
An ideal choice? Set out a few cartons of ice cream, along with your favorite toppings, and let guests make their own sundaes!
Or, let them fill ice pop molds with fruit juice when they arrive, and by the time they’re ready to leave, you can send them off with a frozen treat!
The best part? If they get a little sticky chowing down, they can take a quick dip to wash off!
7. Stock the Pool
Finally, once you’ve planned the menu and set the theme, it’s important to make sure the pool is ready for a party. Check the chemical levels, clean up any debris that flew in overnight, and skim it to ensure cleanliness.
Then, stock it with the gear you think your guests will love.
Of course, the water itself is the main attraction. Encourage everyone to splash around, play games and socialize in the shallow end. Then, throw in a few basic pool toys to add to the fun.
These don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. A few floats, some diving rings for the kids to find, a volleyball net or a pool basketball hoop, and you’re good to go.
It’s helpful to designate a set time for playing and a time for eating. That way, you aren’t stuck manning the grill all day as people shuffle in and out of the water in shifts.
Get the Pool, Then Plan the Party
You can’t throw the ultimate pool party without a pool! If you’ve been considering installing one in your backyard, there’s never been a better time to do so.
Today’s inground po