How to Plan the Perfect Pool Party
Nothing rings in the summer season quite like a pool party. Gathering family and friends together to cool off in the water and enjoy the sun is the perfect way to usher in the start of the long, hot days ahead. But there's so much that goes into planning a fun poolside bash. From decorations and cocktails to favors and pool accessories, we're giving you some major inspiration so you can craft the type of party that summertime dreams are made of.
Begin your planning process by notifying guests of your upcoming festivities with an invitation that sets the mood. Next up on your checklist? The decorations. Set the scene for your summer pool party by displaying a number of pineapple-inspired party decorations you can make yourself or create colorful paper straw garlands that the kids will have a blast helping to craft. Another fun addition is to create your own outdoor lighting with light columns. They're perfect for when guests linger past sunset, or if you choose to go for a nighttime dip.
No party is complete without a mouthwatering menu. We're dishing out some of our best finger food ideas and recipes for warm weather treats that will have everyone coming back for seconds. Toast to the summer sun with our wow-worthy Lemon Mezcal Margaritas or tropical Pineapple and Mango Rum Cocktails. Look to the sea for your summer menu planning inspiration—our Spicy Grilled Shrimp and Fish Tacos with Lime and Cabbage are two crowd-pleasing options. We've got options for the vegetarians in attendance, too. Serve up West Coast Grilled Vegetable Pizza for a quick meat-free main; we like that it comes together in 25 minutes, which means you can spend less time cooking and more time swimming. Celebrate the season's fresh produce with a taste of the Mediterranean; our Stuffed Tomatoes, which are filled with goat cheese, are guaranteed winners. Finish off the meal with a treat that's sure to please adults and kids alike: Ice Cream Waffle Sandwiches. The frosted treat sits between two waffle cookies for a sweet dessert.
Invite friends and family over for summer fun with pool-themed printable invitations. Who can say no to these adorable invites?
Shop Now: Minted "Pool Party" Invitations, $35 for 10, minted.com.
Stir It Up
Metal straws not only help the environment by eliminating plastic waste, but they also help keep your drink cool when refrigerated prior to use—this stainless steel option is dishwasher safe.
Shop Now: West Elm Metal Bendy Straws, $24, westelm.com.
Oversize paper lanterns add a bright burst of color to your outdoor space, and you can make your own! Hang them at different heights to create visual contrast.
Paper Pineapple Party Decorations
Bring the tropics to your backyard with this simple DIY. Use whatever colors suit your theme and be sure to keep away from too much water, as you don't want to disturb the paper.
Scalloped Drink Cooler
Stash bottled beverages in a detailed and colorful hand-painted bucket that you can use again and again.
Paper napkins means less cleanup, while the pattern is downright adorable. Place these next to the food for a welcome addition to your party décor.
Shop Now: Paper Source Palm Print Guest Napkin, $9.95 for 20, papersource.com.
Neat Napkin Details
If your bash comes with a sit-down meal, incorporate some nature into your place settings with these floral napkin wraps.
The Right Lighting
Perfect for pool parties that continue after the sun sets, these light columns add a touch of luxe to your outdoor bash.
Part decoration and part dessert, fluffy dune of icing, a sandy dusting of graham cracker crumbs, and a colorful drink parasol top off these cupcakes in beachy fashion.
Tissue paper fans add easy, breezy style when grouped together as a garland.
Thank your pool party guests for a delightful day by sending them home with pineapple-inspired favor boxes filled with sweet treats.
When precious poolside time is at stake, quick-and-easy recipes are a must. Whip up our speedy guacamole and then customize it with chopped onion, tomato, jalapñeo, chipotle in adobo, or garlic.
Lemon Mezcal Margarita
Lemon juice softens the smokiness of the mezcal in this modern margarita. This light but distinctive drink is perfect for your summer pool party.
Thread rounds of honeydew, cantaloupe, and pineapple on wooden skewers for a crowd-friendly, easy-to-eat appetizer.
With eight layers of creamy, crunchy goodness, this Tex-Mex dip will upgrade your backyard pool party to a full-fledged fiesta.
Crostini with Olive Relish
Spoon this flavorful topping over crostini made from a country-style loaf.
Pineapple and Mango Rum Cocktails
Pineapple and mango play a starring role in this Caribbean-inspired cocktail.
Take advantage of summer-fresh tomatoes—these get the Mediterranean treatment with a little goat cheese.
Spicy Grilled Shrimp
Add some Thai-inspired spice to your party with these grilled shrimp kebabs.
West Coast Grilled Vegetable Pizza
Swimming can work up a serious appetite. Satisfy it with grilled pizza topped with fresh ingredients like avocado, tomatoes, spinach, and goat cheese.
Fish Tacos with Cabbage and Lime
Sour cream gets a kick from lime and hot sauce, providing a punchy finish to these fish tacos.
Ice Cream Waffle Sandwiches
Put a scoop of your favorite frozen treat—ice cream, gelato, or sorbet–between waffle cookies to create these sweet and simple ice cream sandwiches.
Festive Beach Towels
Lay on something fun while sunbathing with these whimsical beach towels.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Collection Beach Towels, from $40, macys.com.
Now every drink can have a little umbrella. Use these to distinguish guests' beverages for a fun yet functional accessory.
Shop Now: Umbrella Clip-N-Sip Drink Markers, set of six, $5.99, bedbathandbeyond.com.
To Hold and Store
Stash towels and other necessities in a chic and stylish laid-back tote.
Shop Now: Anthropologie "Pool Day" Tote Bag, $48, anthroplogie.com.
Loads of Sunscreen
Make sure everyone's covered and no one goes home burnt with a supply of sunblock. We're partial to those that don't leave a residue and are great for sensitive skin.
Shop Now: Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Oxide Dry-Touch Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, $11.99, target.com.
Nothing says pool party quite like a fun and whimsical float. They entice people into the pool and make for the perfect prop for photos.
Shop Now: GoFloats Flamingo Pool Float Party Tube, $34.60, walmart.com.