Pool Party Ideas

Planning a party by the swimming pool? Are you looking to have a small and quiet get-together? Perhaps you are looking for big and loud festivity? However you choose to throw your poolside party, we've got you covered. Need ideas for a theme, drinks, food, decorations, games or invitations? You're just a click away from plenty of tips, hints and how-to's.

Party Themes

One of the most enjoyable things about owning a swimming pool is the ability to gather friends and family for pool parties! A pool party can be a simple, impromptu gathering or an extremely elaborate affair. If you choose to go the elaborate route, consider one of the following themes for your event:

Movie Night

Do you miss the days of drive-in movies? Then hosting a “dive-in” pool party may be for you! Simply purchase some inflatable lounge chairs at your local pool retailer. Move your big-screen television outside, or rent a projector for the evening. You won’t need a special projection screen, either – you can project the film onto the side of the house if you have light-colored brick or siding, or simply hang a large white or light-colored solid sheet for displaying the movie. Pick a favorite classic, or give your guests a thrill and screen “Jaws.” “The Little Mermaid” and “Finding Nemo” are great choices for a kids’ party.

Whatever movie you choose, just remember to provide plenty of flotation devices so family and friends can kick back or buddy up in rafts to watch the fun.  Set up your own movie theater concession stand and serve popcorn, candy and sodas.

Posh Party

Think “upscale” for a posh swimming pool party everyone will talk about. Create a modern lounge vibe using a basic “black-and-white” theme. Provide black and white lounge chairs. Have hip bar appetizers like sweet potato french fries and mini sliders. Create a few signature cocktails served in stylish glasses. Float beds and chairs in the water for the guests to relax on while sipping a cocktail. Play club music in the background to keep the party moving. Hand out inexpensive flip-flops tied with ribbon as guests arrive to wear and keep as mementos.

Hawaiian Luau

A Hawaiian Luau is one of the most popular pool party themes, making decorations easy and affordable. Take your guests on an evening getaway to the Aloha State! Guests should wear their most colorful Hawaiian print shirts. Make leis at the party or buy ready-made ones to welcome your guests. Decorate with bright, tropical colors, bamboo accents and Hawaiian-themed accessories from your local pool retailer, party supply or craft store. Tiki torches and tropical flowers scattered across tables and the surface of the pool provide the finishing touches for a magical evening. Pineapple chicken or ham would be delicious main dishes, or treat your friends and family to an authentic pig roast. Complement the feast with rice and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables reminiscent of a garden paradise.

Beach Party

It’s simple to create a beach barbeque party around your backyard pool. Attire is simple - kick back in flip-flops and swimsuits! Use the children’s sandbox and build a sand castle. Decorate tables with seashells and fish nets. Cover chairs with beach towels. Use plastic pails and shovels, and even Frisbees, to serve hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Float toy sailboats in the pool. Grill hot dogs, hamburgers and corn on the cob and serve classic boardwalk food, like popcorn, snow cones and French fries for your family and friends.

1950s Fun

Hold a party right from the era of bobby socks and Chuck Berry. Buy records with rock 'n' roll hits from the 1950s. Play the music to greet guests as they arrive. Place inflatable plastic palm trees in the pool and pool towels for guests in shades of black, white, pink and turquoise along the outside to help create a 1950s atmosphere. Add balloons shaped as musical notes for people swimming to play with. Serve your company a classic 1950s food: fondue. Offer pieces of bread and deli meat on skewers, which diners can use to dip in the fondue. Give those who want something more substantial cheeseburgers and French fries. Accompany the meal with 1950s cocktails like martinis. For dessert, serve milk shakes and ice cream.

Vegas Night

Bring your guests to Las Vegas on a hot summer night. Buy neon-filled tubes to place around the sides of the pool in day glow colors such as hot pink and lemon yellow. Treat guests to a Vegas style meal by putting out a large buffet in front of the pool with items many different cuisines such as sushi, chicken parmigiana and Ruben sandwiches. Designate an area where guests can play games such as blackjack and poker by putting out a table with chairs, cards and tokens they can later redeem for prizes.

Spa PartyGirls Hot Tub Day

This theme is bound to be popular! Imagine lying by the pool sipping a cocktail while being pampered! Hire a beautician for the afternoon and treat your guests to a manicure or pedicure. Place individual containers for each girl with nail file, polish and toe separators on small tables draped with pink paper or lilac cloths and small bowls filled with water and floating flower heads. Food can be light, dips and crisps and mini sandwiches with various fillings followed by cupcakes!

Pirate Themed Party

At a pirate pool party, kids can hit the open seas and experience the adventures of a pirate. Invite guests to your pirate pool party with treasure map invitations that lead them to the pool. Sketch or print a map of the area, and draw a treasure chest at the pool's location. You should include all relevant party information, like the date, time and guest of honor's name. Or, hand deliver messages in a bottle to your guests. Roll the invitation, place it in a water bottle and let guests unwrap the message to learn all the details about your pirate pool party.

Let kids splash around in the pool while playing pirate-themed games. Encourage kids to find the underwater buried treasure. Drop items like large plastic coins and small toys that will sink into the pool, and let kids jump in and find them. The child who finds the most items wins the treasures. If you play this game, make sure your guests are good swimmers, and have several adults watch them in the water. For older kids, let them walk the plank (or, the diving board) and do their best cannonball in the deep end. Kids can also have a sword fight using plastic foam pool noodles.

Choose a red and black theme for your pirate pool party, and use pool-friendly items as decor. Toss red and black beach balls into the pool or hang them up in the pavilion, and use red and black beach towels as tablecloths. Find pool floats that look like ships, and let guests enjoy them throughout the party. Find a skull and crossbones flag to hang up at the pool.

Send the kids home with treats that tie into the pirate pool party theme. You can give kids a pair of red or black flip-flops to wear at the party, or pirate hats, swords and hooks to accessorize with during the party and after it is over.

General Tips for a Successful Pool Party

  • Make sure you have some extra towels and flip flops for guests who forget their own.

  • Provide a room for guests to change into their bathing suits and leave their clothes.

  • Plenty of umbrellas are a must for guests who prefer to relax in the shade.

  • Use plastic 'glasses' for drinks as broken glass is not what you want to have to deal with.

  • Place your pool furniture around the edge of the pool with tables in between where guests can put their food and drink.

  • Have lots of inflatable pool toys in the pool so guests can have fun splashing about with them.

  • Choose appropriate music for your age group of guests and make sure someone is responsible for keeping it playing.

  • Candles come into their own as the sun sets and look very pretty floating in the pool at night. Citronella candles on tables are useful for keeping the bugs at bay and you might like to have some bug spray to hand as well.

  • Mark the depth of your pool with waterproof tape for your guests’ safety.

  • Spritzer bottles of water placed in ice buckets are great for your guests to spray on and keep cool also provide some sunscreen for guests as it's all too easy to get burned while sunbathing without realizing it.

  • Favors are a lovely touch for your guests and according to your budget you could go for inexpensive flip flops, sunglasses, and sunscreen or bust the budget and go for mini bottles of champagne!