How to Throw the Ultimate Pool Party

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  • 01 of 10

    Why a Pool Party?

    Kayla Snell / Stocksy United

    It’s hot. And we’re talking oppressively, I-don’t-want-to-do-anything type of weather. But it’s a special occasion (or not!) and you’re responsible for throwing a party! The smartest way to throw a low maintenance, high fun gathering? Take it outside. To the pool more specifically. It gets everyone out of the house (so no pre-party cleaning) and you’ve got a built-in activity that will keep adults and kids busy for hours. Plus, since you’re already outside, it makes perfect sense to fire up the...MORE grill and put out a few make-ahead salads and apps. This is one type of party that’s a breeze to host.

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  • 02 of 10

    Figure Out Your Theme

    Pool party theme
    Thais Ramos Varela / Stocksy United

    The beauty of a pool party is that it’s sort of the party theme all on its own. There’s really no need to figure out another way to present it. Something worth thinking about though is adding colorful décor, beach towels, and tableware to make it feel more fun. The brighter the better. Nothing says summer like saturated hues, right? The great part about a pool themed party is that your décor will also serve a practical purpose. Towels can help guests dry off while pool floats not only look cute,...MORE but provide hours of entertainment!

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  • 03 of 10

    Go for Easy Clean-Up

    Plastic drink cups
    Ronnie Kaufman/Larry Hirshowitz/Blend Images/Getty Images

    Also, because you’re by the pool, you’ll want to axe any serving ware that’s glass. Just in case someone accidentally drops a plate or glass, you won’t have to worry about barefoot guests stepping on broken glass. Our summer décor favorites are pretty paper plates—try Shop Sweet Lulu, Oh Happy Day Party Shop, Meri Meri, or Oh Joy’s line for Target. Or if you want something that will last from season to season, try melamine versions. Stores like Crate & Barrel, Walmart, Target, and almost any...MORE major housewares retailer sell it once the weather gets warm.

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  • 04 of 10

    Party Décor for the Fiesta!

    Try to let the natural beauty of your landscaping be the star of this party. But if you want to add a little pizzazz to the patio, might we suggest a few simple décor items?

    A variety of sizes and colors of balloons are always fun and relatively inexpensive. Link different sizes together to form a balloon garland if you’re feeling even more ambitious. If you’ve got no place to hang it, consider letting it float right in the pool if your guests are more about sitting poolside than splashing...MORE around. You can also fill clear oversized balloons with confetti before you add helium for a little extra color.

    Colorful paper garlands or honeycomb lanterns are the perfect accent for your buffet or drink tables. To top the tables, gather bouquets of bright summer blooms or try those cute painted pineapples tops that were big last summer.

    DIY Fiesta Party Garland from Tell Love and Party

     

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  • 05 of 10

    Easy Appetizers

    Getty Images/ Glasshouse Images

    Keep it simple with finger food that isn’t too fussy—think lots of cool, fresh fruits and vegetables to keep people feeling hydrated and satiated for the whole day. Crudité and a creamy dip and a fruit platter are classics for a reason. Since people will be on the go, try to stick to little bites like these mozzarella stuffed cherry tomatoes or this watermelon, feta, and mint salad that can be put on skewers instead of served in bowls. Grilled chicken wings or different types of meat skewers are...MORE also great starters. For all of the food served throughout any outdoor party, make sure you’re abiding by food safety standards. You’ve really got to be careful when the temps are high.

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  • 06 of 10

    Stunning Sides

    Diana Rattray

    If your main dishes will be fresh off the grill, you’ll want to keep your side dishes nice and cool. Don’t bother reinventing the wheel with your sides. Stick to the classics that guests will both expect and love. There’s really nothing like homemade backyard party food after a long day in the sun. Try these suggestions: coleslaw, potato salad, broccoli slaw, baked beans, and grilled corn. Yum! You’ll be so happy to have leftovers the next day.

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  • 07 of 10

    Get Grilling

    Jamie Grill / Getty Images

    The grill is really the star of the meal when you’re having a summer party. The best thing you can do ahead of the gathering is to do a quick check to make sure everything is in working order for the day of. So that means checking to make sure your propane tank is filled and even grabbing a back-up tank, making sure the grill grates are nice and clean, and that you’ve got all of the grill utensils you need. Then the day of, you can grill up hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chicken, and...MORE veggies. Don’t forget to ask guests before the party if they eat meat or not. Then plan accordingly!

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  • 08 of 10

    Drink Bar

    Besides the standard soda, beer, or canned wine (rosé please). You might want to consider mixing up a few signature cocktail bases. Fresh citrus, strawberries, or watermelon make great bases for cocktails. Here are a few ideas to get your started: a Strawberry Thyme Lillet Spritzer, a Vodka Strawberry Lemonade, or a Pineapple Paloma.

    Tip: when you let guests add their own alcohol, it lets people who won’t be drinking still enjoy these tasty libations. Just make sure to have plenty of water on...MORE hand, too. When people are in the sun and drinking all day, it’s really easy for them to get dehydrated.

    Strawberry Thyme Lillet Spritzer from What's Gaby Cooking

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  • 09 of 10

    Room for Dessert

    Sticking with the theme of this whole party—keep it simple. Don’t bother baking something elaborate. Who wants to turn on the oven anyway? Instead, why not try an ice cream sundae bar? Get a few different types of ice cream, all the fixings, whipped cream, and cherries and let guests help themselves. Or, try making your own fruit flavored popsicles. Fresh and tasty, guests will love gobbling down these ice-cold desserts.

    Topping Ideas from Baked Bree

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  • 10 of 10

    Splash Around

    Bonninstudio / Stocksy United

    The pool is really the star of the show and most people who aren’t just soaking up some sun will be splashing around. Buy a few playful pool floats–we suggest the pizza slice, unicorn, flamingo, swan, or popsicle. They’re so fun and will look great floating in the water. You can always add in other water toys, too. Hula-hoops and diving rings will keep imaginations working all day long. It will be fun to see who walks away the winner of a diving contest!