There is nothing quite like the first pool party of the summer, and it is almost that time of the year! The water might still be a little chilly, but good friends and fun have a way of combining to create lifelong memories. If you are looking for the everything-you-need guide to planning your summer pool party, you have come to the right place!
In this post you will find all the information you need to plan an amazing, no stress party and keep everyone safe.
KISS: Keep It Simple, Silly!
Party planning has a way of morphing into a huge ordeal. Don’t let it! Remember, the best thing about parties are the people, so don’t let those little details weigh you down.
Is anyone going to notice the table cloths are not the exact same green as your paper lanterns? No, they really won’t. Is anyone going to notice those $100 cafe lights that would be just oh-so-cute? Probably not – consider using the twinkling Christmas lights you already have.
The point is, don’t allow the planning to get in the way of you actually enjoying the event. Keep it simple!
Easy Food Options
The easiest way to cut down on the food party planning stress is by choosing a start time that is not during normal meal times. People expect lunch when a party starts at 11am or noon, but not so much at 2pm. It works in the evenings, too – most people don’t expect dinner when your party starts at 7:30. A later start time might not work for kids, but adults love pool parties, too!
Simple Pool Party Food Options
Food for pool parties should be easy to eat with your hands. Pizza, subs, and dips are all good options.
If you have a membership to one of the bulk stores, like Costco or Sam’s Club, then you are golden. My favorite party foods are meat and cheese trays, veggie trays, a few bowls of different fruits, chips, hummus, and spinach or onion dip. It is so simple, and you can prep the trays a day or two in advance.
Meals Made Easier
If you do want to serve a full meal to your guests, consider catering the main meal item (like fried chicken) and pairing it with homemade dishes, like your famous pasta salad. Less stress, but still homemade!
Or, set up fixings and let guests make the meal themselves. For example a taco bar, where you set up a crock pot with taco meat and lay out shells, lettuce, tomato, chips, sour cream, salsa, jalapenos, and tortilla chips. Everyone can eat what they like and it is less prep work!
For adult parties, you could cook or cater the main meal item and ask friends to bring their favorite dish. For example, you might grill burgers and offer chips, but have friends bring potato salad and a veggie tray.
Pool Party Decorations
The type of decorations you choose for your pool party are going to be based on a few factors:
- Where your pool party is located
- The age of average attendees
- Event (birthday, etc.)
- Whether you even feel like dealing with decorations
Let’s look at a few suggestions for choosing pool party decorations.
Simple Party Decorations
I would like to suggest a radical thought – you don’t have to have decorations at your pool party! Most pools have a deck, and many decks have pretty landscaping. If the location of your party is pretty in its own right, you might not need to add any decorations.
If you want to add simple decorations, here are a few suggestions:
- Paper Lanterns
- Christmas lights
- Fresh cut flowers
- Potted plants
A theme is the easiest way to choose the style of decorations for your party. Obvious choices like “Hawaiian luau” with paper palm trees are overdone, so try to get super creative. An unusual theme choice can make a big impact, and require less overall decorations (depending upon the theme, of course).
For example, a 20s style flapper party theme could be pulled off with a few twinkle lights, black and white colors, and a table of flapper headbands and hats. Do keep in mind that costumes will be limited, as most guests will arrive in a bathing suit.
Here are a few theme ideas that work well for pool parties:
- 70’s Style
- Cruise ship
- Tacky Wear
- Halloween in July (June, August, etc)
- Movie based (Despicable Me, Up, Fight Club)
Pool Party Safety
This is one of the most important part of planning your pool party, and something you should take extremely serious. The lives of your friends and family could depend upon it.
Post The Rules
You have to come up with the rules for your specific pool, and the ages of your guests. For example, if your pool is only 4 feet deep, you will want to have a “No Diving” rule. If you have children attending, you might have a “No Kids in the Pool Alone” rule.
Here are a few ideas for kid-friendly rules:
- 1 (sober!) adult in the pool at all times
- No children under the age of 10 in the deep end
- Have a pool buddy – keep an eye on each other
- No horse play
- No swimming after drinking
- Absolutely no diving
- No horse play
Enforce the Rules
As the homeowner or pool party host, this is up to you – and it can get uncomfortable with adult friends. For children, I suggest calling a “time out” early in the party to go over the rules with all adults and children present, then explaining that anyone who doesn’t follow rules will be asked to leave (or whatever punishment you choose).
It is a little harder to make sure adults follow rules. I suggest having a story on hand. “Hey, I get that you think it’s no big deal to dive into a shallow pool, but I had a buddy in college who misjudged and broke his neck. To this day, he can’t walk or speak well. I would really hate to see that happen here.” Hopefully your friends will be polite and honor your rules.
Extra Tips for Success
A few extra tips to make sure your summer pool party goes off without a hitch!
- Have extra towels and sandals for guests who may forget their own. (Bonus for flip flops as favors!)
- You will need all the sunscreen.
- Purchase inflatable pool toys from a dollar store – guests will have fun and you won’t mind if they get damaged.
- Use paper and cans to avoid broken glass.
- Place spritzer bottles filled with water in ice bins for a quick refresher for guests! (Fresh mint would be a good addition as well.)
Keep in mind: life is about experiences, not things. So, don’t feel bad keeping the decorations to a minimum, particularly if you have a beautiful deck already. A few paper lanterns or candles are all you need to make your normal patio feel a little more special. Above all: have fun!