Tips For Hosting A School's Out For The Summer Party

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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.

• Kid-friendly mini BLTs and chicken salad stuffed in a pita are great options. Don't eat meat? Make some of everyone's favorite, PB and J.

• 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.




If the day is hot, the kids will likely be playing in the water for the entirety of the party, so be sure to have a couple of fun (and wet) activities. A blow-up volcano makes playing above the water tons of fun, while these swimming hoops are a good alternative to handstand contests. You can also organize games like Marco Polo and Categories. And don't forget the beach balls.

At the beach? A sea or lakeside scavenger hunt is fun to play on land (it's also a great way to make guests work for their goody bag, if you're providing one). You can also organize a sandcastle making competition, giving prizes for the funniest and most amazing designs. For older kids, a party at the beach wouldn't be complete without a greased watermelon, too. 

Setting the Scene

If you're hosting the party poolside, be sure to have a shady area where you can set up snacks and drinks away from the inevitably wet pool deck. Hosting a party at the beach? Scout out your location in advance to look for tables. Picnicking on the ground? Be sure to adjust your menu so each child gets lunch served in a beach pail (that they can then take home) with a wrapped sandwich, crudités, and snacks that should stay sand-free.

Colorful beach towels wrapped in rope are great to have on hand in case anyone forgets theirs, and they make for a great party favor. Extra sunscreen is wise to have to ensure no one gets burnt, too. Have a portable iPod dock or CD player? Make a playlist of age-appropriate summertime favorites, and then burn CDs for everyone to take home at the end of the party so they can celebrate that school's out-feeling all summer long.

Songs for Summer (Ages 10-14)

Summer in the City — The Lovin' Spoonful

School's Out — Alice Cooper

Summer Girl — Leighton Meester

Firework — Katy Perry

Dog Days are Over — Florence and the Machine

Ice Cream Freeze — Miley Cyrus