How to Throw the Best Pool and Beach Parties Ever

Host the best summer parties by the pool or at the beach by following these top tips
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How to Throw the Best Pool and Beach Parties Ever

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The temperatures are rising, the sun is beating stronger every day, and there is only one way to really cool down: by jumping into the pool or the ocean. On these almost unbearably hot summer days wearing anything more than a swimsuit and sunglasses, drinking anything that isn’t ice cold, and eating anything hot or substantial is totally unappealing. That’s why every party from here to Labor Day needs to be by the pool or on the beach. Anything else just isn’t going to be weather-appropriate. Here we explain how to host the ultimate pool and beach parties, covering everything from the practical equipment you’ll need, how to decorate, the best drinks to serve, and what food to cook for the occasion.

Set-Up: Colorful, Summertime Decorations

Set-Up: Colorful, Summertime Decorations

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It’s the height of summer, so make sure you decorate accordingly with bright, colorful decorations. From striped beach towels, to bright bunting and paper lanterns, to neon balloons, decorate as much as possible to make sure your party setting looks wonderfully inviting.

Set-Up: Count Your Guests

Set-Up: Count Your Guests

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Pool and beach parties can easily get out of hand. Keep your party under control by not inviting too many people. No one wants to be at an overly crowded summer party where there’s not enough space in the pool.

Set-Up: Drinks Equipment

Set-Up: Drinks Equipment

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Setting out a few warm beers on the table isn’t the best way to serve drinks at your party. If you’re hosting a pool party, you could fill buckets with ice and water and load them up with wine, beer, and soft drinks, or you could take the simpler option (and the only option for the beach), and fill a cooler with ice and all your drinks.

Set-Up: Plan Ahead

Set-Up: Plan Ahead

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If you’re hosting a beach party, you need to do some research before you start sorting out your guest list and your menu. Make sure you find out what the rules there are about having parties on your favorite beach, as you may need to do some paperwork, follow certain guidelines, or obtain permission before you throw the party.

Set-Up: Playlist

Set-Up: Playlist

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Pool and beach parties won’t feel complete without your favorite summer tunes playing. Invest in portable, waterproof speakers so that you don’t spend the whole party stressing about your fancy speakers being broken by someone’s wet, sandy hands.

Set-Up: Practical Equipment

Set-Up: Practical Equipment

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Hosting a beach or pool party requires you to take on a lot of responsibility. Make sure you’re well prepared, since, as the host, it’s your job to be well-equipped. You need to have a first-aid kit, sun screen, beach towels, and, if you’re headed to the beach, vinegar, in case of jellyfish stings.

Set-Up: Tableware

Set-Up: Tableware

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Nothing breakable or fragile should be present anywhere. Ideally, you’ll just be serving finger food, but if not, using paper plates and disposable flatware is the best option. Plastic cups (and straws for the kids) are also essential — you definitely don’t want someone to smash a glass in the pool.

Set-Up: Umbrellas for People and Food

Set-Up: Umbrellas for People and Food

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While you may love spending the whole day basking in the sun, this isn’t the case for everybody, and it definitely isn’t the case for food. Make sure you have plenty of umbrellas for your guests to sit under and to protect the food from the sun’s burning rays.

Set-Up: Water Games

Set-Up: Water Games

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Though the beach and the pool do provide a lot of entertainment in and of themselves, providing some games for your guests — both kids and adults — will make the afternoon even more fun.

Drinks: Alcohol-Free

Drinks: Alcohol-Free

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Don’t let your summer party become a brawl by forgetting to serve water and soft drinks. Regular water is essential, but you could also turn filtered water into something much tastier and fancier by adding lemon, mint, strawberries, or whatever you fancy infusing it with. Also offer at least one or two sodas or mocktails for the kids and non-drinking adults to enjoy — a virgin mojito is always a great option.

For the Minty Virgin Mojito recipe, click here.

Drinks: Beer and Wine

Drinks: Beer and Wine

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Cans of beer and bottles (or cans) of wine, are the easiest alcoholic drinks to serve at pool and beach parties. Make sure you keep them cold and that you only offer those that are light in alcohol for a fun, but safe, party.

Drinks: Low-Proof Cocktails

Drinks: Low-Proof Cocktails

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If you want to host the fanciest of pool parties, make up one or two low-proof, big-batch cocktails. Set them out on a self-serve bar with plastic cups and plenty of ice, so your guests can help themselves, and you don’t have to spend the party playing bartender.

For the Minty Gin Lemonade recipe, click here. 

Food: Finger Food

All the food you serve should be easy to eat — no one wants to sit down in a swimsuit for a drawn-out, heavy meal. The food should be light, not requiring a knife or fork, and your guests should be able to nibble on it throughout the afternoon. You don’t want to make people feel bloated or sick when they jump into the pool right after eating.

Food: Low-Maintenance Food

Food: Low-Maintenance Food

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Planning a beach or pool party requires much organization and planning, so you really don’t want to have to cook and put together fancy, time-consuming dishes. Keep things simple with low-maintenance food, and if you are really feeling overwhelmed by hosting, make your party a potluck.

Food: Chips, Dips, and Crudités

Food: Chips, Dips, and Crudités

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Lay out bowls of chips, dips, and crunchy crudités for people to pick at throughout the party. A range of dips, and a good selection of chips and vegetables, make great finger food for all the guests to snack on.

For the nine best dip recipes, click here.

Food: Colorful Candy

Food: Colorful Candy

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Bowls of candy may not be a healthy treat, but on those hot summer days, sometimes we all crave a sugar rush. A selection of candy is no effort on your part and doubles as a colorful party decoration.

Food: Fresh Fruit

Food: Fresh Fruit

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Summer is our favorite time of year for fresh produce. Set out a platter of ready-to-eat fruit for a healthy, tasty, and party-perfect snack.

Food: Gluten-Free Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Food: Gluten-Free Lemon Crinkle Cookies

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Dessert at beach and pool parties is always tricky. You can’t have anything chocolatey as it will melt, and ice cream is great for a pool party when you have access to a freezer, but totally impractical for the beach. These citrusy, zingy cookies, served with summer berries, are exactly the kind of sweet treat your party needs.

For the Gluten-Free Lemon Crinkle Cookies recipe, click here.

Food: Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

Food: Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

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Chicken drumsticks are perfect for beach and pool parties as they can be eaten with your hands, and they aren’t fiddly and sticky like chicken wings tend to be.

For the Grilled Chicken Drumsticks With Chili and Lime recipe, click h

Food: Grilled Lemon and Pepper Shrimp Skewers

Food: Grilled Lemon and Pepper Shrimp Skewers

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Food served on skewers is perfect for serving at a pool and beach party. No plates, knives, or forks are needed, and they tend to be delicious whether they’re served hot or at room temperature.

For the Grilled Lemon and Pepper Shrimp Kabobs recipe, click here.

Food: Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

Food: Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

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Charred summer vegetables are light, tasty, and packed full of flavors. Serve our favorite green goddess dressing on the side for a more decadent vegetarian dish.

For the Grilled Veggie Kabobs With Green Goddess Dressing recipe, click here.

Food: Orange Jelly Boats

Food: Orange Jelly Boats

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If you have any kids coming to your party, make sure you offer up these sweet, fruity, and adorable orange Jell-O boats — they fit the water party theme so perfectly, we just can’t resist.

For the Orange Jell-O Boats recipe, click here.   

Food: Peach and Honey Ice Pops

Food: Peach and Honey Ice Pops

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Obviously, you can’t transport ice pops to a beach party, but for a pool party, where a freezer is within reach, ice pops are a refreshing, cooling, and easy-to-prepare dessert that kids and adults will both love.

For the Creamy Peach and Honey Ice Pops recipe, click here.

Food: Spicy Chicken Skewers

You should steer clear of the heavy carbohydrates at a pool party. Grilled various meats on skewers will always be a popular option.

For the Spicy Greek Yogurt and Lime Chicken Skewers recipe, click here.  

Food: Spicy Rosemary Roasted Nuts

Food: Spicy Rosemary Roasted Nuts

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Salty, spicy, herb-coated roasted nuts are easy to make, wonderfully tasty, and always one of the most popular party snacks.

For the Spicy Rosemary Roasted Nuts recipe, click here.

Food: Sweet and Salty Popcorn

Food: Sweet and Salty Popcorn

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Set out bowls of sweet and savory popcorn at your party so that there’s always food out that will fit everybody’s taste. Make it yourself (it takes only a couple of minutes, we promise) for the most flavorsome, crunchy corn.

Click here to see 12 exciting popcorn recipes.

Food: Watermelon Wedges

Food: Watermelon Wedges

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Nothing says summer like simple wedges of fresh watermelon. Slice up a couple of watermelons for your guests to pick up and eat their way through whenever they need a super refreshing snack.