How to Host a Pool Party This Summer That Your Guests Will Never Forget

friends jumping in the pool
How to Throw the Ultimate Pool Party This SummerGetty Images

As summer approaches, it's time to begin planning outdoor gatherings again. And what could be a better way to celebrate this season of sunshine than by hosting a pool party at home?

If you don't know how to host a pool party, there are a few things to keep in mind to help ensure that you and your guests have a fun and safe experience throughout the day. Stocking up on poolside essentials, planning a menu, and organizing fun activities will set you up for success when the day of your party arrives. And while having a pool of your own at home certainly helps, just know that you can still enjoy most of these tips without one!

To help you out, we’ve turned to the experts who have shared guidelines on how to host a pool party this season. Let’s dive in! (pun very much intended).

Gather the essentials

If you want to nail the laid-back pool party vibe, you first need to make sure you have the essentials in order. Great music, fun food, and tasty beverages are a great place to start, according to Lisa Cokinos, founder of LC Events in New York City. When deciding on the best tunes to play, Corkinos suggests curating a playlist that “appeals to everyone but that ultimately has your own spin on it.”

In planning a poolside menu, you can’t go wrong with a barbecue. “When I think of pool parties, I always think of burgers, hot dogs, chips and dips, corn on the cob, etc.,” Corkinos says. “Quintessential all-American barbeque options. Favorite poolside drinks include rosé, spicy margaritas, and ice-cold beer.”

friends having a backyard barbecue party
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Proper hydration is especially crucial on hot summer days, so make sure your guests have plenty of water to drink. Consider stocking coolers with water bottles or setting up drink dispensers nearby with added flavors like lemon and cucumber to enhance the taste.

Finally, aside from food and drinks, make sure you have enough sunscreen and pool accesstories on hand for your guests to use. “Inevitably, guests will forget something, so have plenty of extra sunblock, towels, and pool noodles,” Cokinos says.

Decorate for a party atmosphere

Creating a festive atmosphere at home doesn't require any special know-how, but it's a simple yet important aspect of hosting a successful summer party. Consider hanging LED string lights or using candle lanterns as centerpieces to create a warm and inviting atmosphere as the sun goes down. Placing flameless candles in waterproof holders also adds an extra touch of ambiance.

You can also bring a pop of color to your pool party decor by using colorful linens and tableware. Incorporating bright and bold linens in your tablescape can make the food and drinks more visually appealing and add to the overall festive atmosphere. You can also bring out your houseplants and add bouquets of fresh flowers to your seating area to evoke the look of a lush, relaxing oasis.

Create a theme and plan activities

To give your pool party a unique touch, Cokinos suggests creating a theme to make it stand out. This sets the tone for the event and can help you plan the decor, food, and activities around a central idea.

"Throw a 'Tacos and Tequila' pool party with a make-your-own-taco bar or 'Rosé all Day' with a lobster roll cart and rosé on tap!" Cokinos suggests. "Add on a s’mores bar or make your own shaved ice slushie, and everyone will remember your party!"

Pool party hosts are also responsible for planning activities and games. To take things to the next level, you can plan a round of yacht-rock karaoke, in which your guests take turns singing their favorite '80s hits. "From Toto’s 'Africa' to Hall & Oates’ 'I Can’t Go For That,' crowds tend to sing at the top of their lungs when they’re in any proximity to water and it involves some classic yacht rock," says Eric Wielander, Head of Creative at Eventique. To elevate the atmosphere and stick to the theme, Wielander also suggests distributing yacht captain's hats to your guests.

To create some friendly competition, you could hold a mini pool volleyball tournament or a lighthearted race. “Test out your guests’ swimming skills with relay races but with untraditional strokes, such as just the backstroke or doggie paddle,” Cokinos says. “You can also have guests ride floaties across the pool and see who wins.”

friends playing pool volleyball
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Prioritize pool safety

Along with making sure everyone is well-fed and having a good time, hosts must prioritize the safety of all guests in attendance. Make sure everyone is practicing common-sense pool safety by not swimming while intoxicated or running around the pool perimeter. Guests should only go in the water as deep as they feel comfortable swimming.

If children are present, Cokins suggests hiring a lifeguard or designating a responsible adult to keep a watchful eye on the pool activities for the day.

What if you don’t own a pool?

If you don't have a pool at home or in your community, Swimply offers an interesting alternative. It's an online marketplace where homeowners can rent out their private swimming pools for hourly use to individuals or groups. Think of it as Airbnb but for pool parties, where guests can rent pools for 2-3 hours.

“On and the Swimply app, pool seekers can browse nearby pools, check out amenities, read reviews, and find the pool of their dreams to make their own (for a few hours),” Andrea Toch, a member of Swimply’s PR team confirmed. Once bookings are confirmed, guests will receive an email detailing the exact address, entry and exit info, Wi-Fi, and anything else they need for their pool party reservation.

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