Pool Party Ideas & Planning Tips 

Checklist for FUN-tastic Activities, Decor, Food & More

Summertime means time to hit the pool – and pool time is always more fun with family and friends! Whether you're planning a birthday bash, a family get-together, or just a fun day in the sun, a pool party is the perfect way to beat the heat and make a celebratory splash. From party setup tips to mouthwatering food options that will satisfy everyone's summertime cravings, to entertainment ideas that will keep the kids (and adults) happy, we've got it all covered. Let's dive in and start planning the ultimate pool party! 

Pro Tip: Use a Volunteer SignUp Sheet to get family and friends to pitch in on the set up, food prep, and clean up efforts!

Pool Party Ideas and Planning Tips

Pool Party SetUp

When it comes to planning a pool party, ambiance plays a big role in setting the mood for a fun and festive event. Start your pool party planning by creating the perfect atmosphere. Letting the occasion and party theme drive your decisions, think about:

Decorations: A few well-placed items can do a lot to set the right mood – no need to go overboard with decor. Beach balls and pool floats are classic go-to decorations that also provide some entertainment, and a festive tablecloth or runner for the food table is a fun and simple addition. 

Lighting: If you’re organizing a pool party that goes into the evening, paper lanterns, string lights, and floating LED lights can create a magical atmosphere after dark.

Music: Set the mood for your get-together with a great playlist full of upbeat party tunes. Include your favorite summer songs or search for pre-made playlists on streaming services like Spotify. Pro Tip: If you’re not technologically savvy, enlist your teenage nephew, neighbor’s daughter, or someone else to help with this.

Seating: Skip the chair rentals – if you don’t have enough “real” seating for all your guests, use inflatable chairs and pool floats, and/or provide blankets or beach towels for party attendees to lounge on.

Pro Tip: Don't have your own pool? Ask a friend or relative, book the public pool, or rent one for the afternoon with Swimply!

Pool Party Food Ideas

Avoid hangry partygoers with plenty of refreshments – think finger foods that are easy to consume while lounging by the poolside. Check out these pool party food ideas for your summertime shindig.

Caprese Kabobs: Alternate cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and mozzarella balls on skewers, then drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Charcuterie Board: For a simple and elegant option that's perfect for adult and kid guests alike, serve up a selection of cured meats like salami, prosciutto, and ham with a variety of cheeses, crackers or bread, nuts, fruit, and olives.

Dips & Dip-ables: Salsa, guacamole, and other savory and sweet dips served with chips, pretzels, veggies, or other dippable treats is a simple-to-prepare classic crowd-pleaser.

Fresh Fruit Treats: For a healthy and refreshing snack option that’s easy to eat by the pool, serve up fresh fruit pieces or kabobs with dip, fruit salsa with cinnamon chips, fruit bruschetta, or homemade frozen fruit popsicles.

Grilled Goodies: Summer is grilling season – stick with classics like hot dogs and burgers, or take your grilling game to a new level by serving up the ingredients for make-your-own skewers. Think grilled chicken pieces or shrimp, firm cheeses like mozzarella or feta, fruit like pineapple and peaches, veggies like zucchini and bell pepper, etc. Grilled fruits can also be topped with whipped cream and/or honey for a sweet treat.

Frozen Treats: Frozen treats are a great way to help guests cool off on a hot summer day. Serve up sorbet, popsicles, ice cream cones, milkshake shots, or DIY ice cream sandwiches (cookies stuffed with ice cream).

PB&J Sushi Rolls: Spread peanut butter and jelly on a flour tortilla, roll it up, and slice it into sushi-like pieces – easy peasy and oh so yummy!

S'mores Dip: Put a spin on classic s’mores by melting the chocolate and marshmallows in a cast-iron skillet over a grill. Then guests can use graham crackers for dipping.

Veggie Wraps: Wrap sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, and hummus in a tortilla for a healthy and refreshing treat – a tasty option that's perfect for vegetarians and health-conscious guests.

Watermelon Pizza: Keep it simple with watermelon slices or kick it up a notch with a watermelon pizza – cut the fruit into large round slices and top with cheese (cream, feta, or parmesan), honey, nuts, balsamic, or whatever yummy combos you come up with. Get more unique watermelon pairing ideas here. 

Remember to also provide plenty of water and other beverages to keep your guests hydrated throughout the party! Lemonade and iced tea are summertime favorites for quenching thirst, and margaritas are a fun and festive option for adult guests.

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Pool Games & Activities

Keep everyone entertained at your swim party with these popular swimming pool games perfect for all ages and skill levels.

Chicken Fight: You’re likely familiar with this “oldie but goodie” – the fun of an in-pool chicken fight never gets old, though! Players team up in twos and one of them sits on the other’s shoulders, then they go head-to-head with other pairs to see who can knock their opponent off their teammate’s shoulders.

Marco Polo: One person is "it" and must keep their eyes closed during gameplay. The “it” person calls out "Marco" and, each time they do, the other players must respond with "Polo," The person who is "it" tries to tag one of the players based on their voice.

Movie in the Pool: Rent or buy a movie projector and an inflatable movie screen, or make your own screen by hanging a white sheet. Provide pool floats and host a viewing of Jaws, The Little Mermaid, or your favorite summertime film. 

Noodle Hockey: This fun game is played with pool noodles and a beach ball, and can be played in or out of the swimming pool. Players use the noodles to hit the ball into the opposing team's goal (which can be designated using pool floats, cones, or other items).

Photo Ops: Remember those multi-use pool floats we keep mentioning? In addition to decor and seating, these floats can be used to provide opportunities for fun photos! No need for typical photo booth props when you’ve got a unicorn, a giant donut, and a pink flamingo at your disposal.

Pool Noodle Races: Another fun use of pool noodles is a racing tournament to see who can swim across the pool the fastest while using a pool noodle to stay afloat.

Pool Volleyball: Play a game of pool volleyball – you just need a pool volleyball net and a ball! A real volleyball or beach ball will work.

Sharks and Minnows: In this pool game, one person is the "shark" and tries to tag the "minnows" as they swim across the pool. Make it more challenging with rules like "no touching the bottom of the pool" or "no jumping out of the water." Tagged players become sharks in the next round.

Splash Tournament: Have participants jump into the pool with the goal of making the biggest splash – have a few judges in place to rate the splashes.

Treasure Hunt: Toss a bunch of coins, toys, or other small objects into the pool, and have players compete to collect the most items.

These games can be modified to fit the age and skill level of the players, and can provide hours of fun in the pool! For competitions you host, reward winners with prizes like swim goggles or snorkel, pool floats, beach towels, and reusable water bottles. 

Pro Tip: Remember to prioritize SAFETY first, especially with younger or less experienced swimmers. Make sure everyone in attendance knows the pool rules, designate a couple of lifeguards, and ask parents to act as supervisors on duty, too.

Cheers to celebrating summertime with good times and tan lines (and SignUp)!


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