Now is the perfect time to plan and host a gathering that welcomes in those lazy summer days with an afternoon of water-based games and activities. For ages 8 to 13, this themed party works for both pool and lake or seaside locations. To keep the kids happy and busy, plan a couple of activities in advance, like a scavenger hunt for sea creatures or a themed game of Categories by the pool. When lips are blue and bellies begin to rumble, sit down in the grass or sand for a meal of summer favorites like bite-sized BLTs and tuna pockets, followed by a cherry pit-spitting contest and popsicles.
As children often have a picky palate, it’s best to stick with something simple like sandwiches when planning the menu. Choose a couple of different types that can be made in advance, and wrap up each half individually if you’re headed to the beach — or together on a tray if you’re going to the pool — so each child can pick one half or two different kinds.
• Round out the meal with baskets of everyone’s favorite kind of chips (it is summer after all), carrots and hummus, and a big fruit salad.
• Kids will forget they even want a soda when they see big beverage dispensers full of fruity mocktails. To keep them hydrated, be sure to set out a couple of fresh fruit waters in durable pitchers, too — look for aluminum pitchers that are shatter-proof and great for the pool area, but if you’re headed to the beach, be sure to pack a large cooler filled with juice boxes and water.
• For a sweet treat, stock up on popsicles, or try your hand at making your own. These watermelon pops are sweet and refreshing (just leave out the vodka), while cool, creamy chocolate pops are always a favorite. And challenging the kids to a cherry pit-spitting contest is a great way to have fun while eating healthy fruit, too.
This article originally appeared on June 6, 2011.