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Pool Party Ideas

June 15th, 2018 - 2:44 PM

How to host the perfect pool party

Do you remember the joy you felt as a kid when you were invited to a pool party? That feeling doesn’t go away with adolescence, but planning one can be even more fun. You can host one for your kids or your friends and family and create an event everyone will love. If you’re looking for inspiration, get started with these pool party ideas. We’ve covered everything from themes and food to games and entertainment. And we’ve incorporated some fun tips to make sure the party is a great success.  

Don’t have a pool? We’ve also included some ideas on hosting a party in a different location. Ready? Let’s dive in.

pool party ideas with giant fun floats

Pool party themes

The party theme sets the stage for the event. Invitations, decorations and food can all be tied together to really set the mood. Of course, the space for a pool party may be limited (it’s not like a party room with four walls and tables), but you can still make a splash with a fun theme in whatever area you have. Some of our favorite pool party themes are:


Think all things tropical for this theme: flamingos, pineapples and flip-flops. You can use bright colors, serve tropical fruit and cover everything in grass skirts. Give guests leis when they arrive to set the scene. Play hula music to really drive home the idea.

Under the sea

Channel the ocean for this theme. Think sharks, fish and mermaids. Blues and greens are the color palette, and treats like fish crackers and gummy sharks will make great snacks. Even if you’re not at the beach, you could play sound effects of waves crashing and whales singing. 

Palm Springs

This California town makes a great party setting with a dessert color palette. Think oranges, pinks, turquoise blues and yellows. You could even make this a chic event and add in some metallic gold!  Decorate with cactus and palm trees. Serve food like tacos and avocado dip. Some Beach Boys music would be the perfect soundtrack. 

Neon swim

Ideal for a nighttime swim party, this theme can feature neon lights in the pool (fill brightly colored balloons with glow sticks and let them float), glow bracelets for the guests, and party music. You could even ask guests to wear their brightest, boldest swimwear and use black lights in the pool area, making everyone glow.

Pool party games and activities

You may have to encourage guests to get in the water with some fun games. These are sure to provide lots of excitement:

  • Water gun battle: Set out a basket of water guns (tip: they can also serve as party favors). The person who stays the driest loses!
  • Dive-in movie: For evening parties, you could play a movie on a projector screen (or even a white sheet). Choose something like Jaws or Finding Nemo to keep the swim idea going.  
  • Pool noodle games: Pool noodles are inexpensive, so stock up before the party. Choose your favorite of these pool noodle games and lead guests to compete. 
  • Musical floats: This game is much like musical chairs, just on pool floats. Start with one less float than there are guests in the pool. Players start swimming when the music begins. When the music stops, they have to get on a float. The person without one is out. Remove a float and repeat until you have a winner.
  • Float races: For this pool party game, divide everyone into 2-3 teams (depending on the width of the pool). Each team gets a float and each member must race down and back, tagging the next swimmer. The first team to finish wins!
  • Games for non-swimmers: Don’t forget about the people who want to stay dry. Cornhole or giant lawn Jenga® are great poolside games. You can buy them, or check out DIY Pete to learn how to make your own big blocks out of 2x4 boards.

Pool party food

There are two big considerations when planning food for a pool party: it must be easily eaten and not create too much trash that will blow away. Single-serving foods are best, so you don’t have to worry about wet hands digging into bowls and scooping out portions. Things like premade sandwiches, cups full of veggies and dip, or individual bites are great. Handheld foods that don’t require plates allow guests to grab them and get back to swimming. Use popsicle sticks in slices of watermelon to keep the mess to a minimum, or place skewers through ears of corn to make them touch-free. 

You can also prepare some festive pool party foods, like these fun flip flop cookies or beach ball cake pops.

Other tips for hosting a pool party

  • Keep paper decorations away from the splash zone. Paper and water don’t mix well. If you’re using things like streamers, paper tablecloths or other paper décor, place them far enough away that they won’t get ruined at the first cannonball.
  • Focus on the food table. As you decorate, the easiest way to pack a punch is to focus on one area and make it amazing. The food table is a great spot to spend energy decorating. Everyone will stop by for snacks and drinks. Create a fun backdrop and make the display match the theme.
  • Give guests the essentials. Set out things like floats, towels, sunscreen and bug spray for guests to use. Also, make sure there’s a trash can easily accessible.
  • Make sure there’s seating for non-swimmers. While you want to clear the area to allow for guests to mingle and play, make sure there’s seating for anyone who doesn’t want to swim.
  • Have someone watch the kids. Having young guests at the party? Ask a parent or friend to lifeguard and stay focused on the pool. 
  • Ensure enough lighting for nighttime parties. If the party will go after dark, make sure there’s lighting in and around the pool so guests can swim and walk safely. Floating pool lights not only look great but are functional for evening swims.

How to host a pool party without a pool

Want to have a pool party but don’t have a pool in your backyard? Check with area pools — hotels, community centers or country clubs. Many of them will have rental rates available. Make sure to discuss decorating guidelines and find out if you can bring in your own food and drinks. If you have the party at a hotel, consider renting a room so guests have somewhere they can change and shower off. Be mindful if there are other guests at the pool during your party. It may not be the time to take up the whole pool with a game, but rather stick to one end. 

Share your pool party ideas with us

If you throw a fun summer bash using these ideas, we would love to see it! Share pictures with us on Facebook!

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