A comprehensive guide on throwing the ultimate pool party including drink, food, game, decor and product recommendations for the greatest summer experience.
There’s a few things I love in Summer:
- going to the beach
- wearing shorts
and of course, pool parties.
A pool party is basically my dream day. It’s warm out but you’re in a swimsuit so you don’t care. The water is usually refreshing as can be, if you’ve got a float you just get to sit there and chill, cold drink in your hand, not a care in the world. Good food, good friends, good time.
Hopefully the vibe is right, there’s a nice ambiance, good music playing, a couple of games scattered throughout the yard for various forms of entertainment for the day/evening.
It’s the best.
So it should come as no surprise that I am always looking for ways to enhance the pool party experience.
TBH I don’t even currently have a pool, but my parents and some friends do, so I still like to have a good set up for those days.
There’s a couple things that are essential for the ultimate pool party set up.
3. drinks / food
4. decor / attire
6. miscellaneous goodies
I’m putting this as number one because skin cancer and sun damage is no joke. You can still have fun wearing sunscreen! It’s important for your health and your future. Also, you will have so much more fun the next day if the only thing you’re nursing is a hangover (jk – drink responsibly) and not leathery skin and a blistered red back. Just trust me on this one. Ok my PSA is now over.
Here are a few of my favorite sunscreens.
Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion
This one is my favorite. It’s not too oily, it keeps you well protected and who doesn’t want to be a sun bum?
Sun Bum Cool Down Hydrating After Sun Lotion
This stuff feels so good after being in the sun all day. It’s refreshing, cool and it isn’t greasy at all. Also, if you do get a little sunburnt, this offers good relief too.
Sun Bum Chapstick / Lip Balm
Buy a single or buy multiple and give some away as party favors!
A hat would also be a great idea. (Read more about hats in the Attire section of this article)
If you’re going to throw a pool party, you’ve gotta have some good pool floaties. Of course, if it’s a party for more than 10 people and you can swing it, I absolutely recommend investing in a large raft with built in seats and built in cooler.
If you aren’t quite ready for the investment, there are other suitable floaties that I can also recommend.
My favorite, of course, is the Avocado floaty. I really can’t imagine getting anything better mostly because I’m obsessed with ‘cados in case you haven’t noticed.
However, I’d be remiss to not mention all of the other great options:
If you’re looking to not spend a lot but still get a great floaty with a drink holder, here’s a great option under $10.If you’re looking to not spend a lot but still get a great floaty with a drink holder, here’s a great option under $10.
Also very important – don’t lose your drink by not giving it a proper floatation device. If your floaty doesn’t have appropriate cup holders, you’re going to need a drink floaty to hold your prized possession.
3. Drinks and Food
You really can’t have any type of good party without good food and drinks. I mean, we all gotta eat. No one wants to eat bad food. I would suggest a bbq or potluck. If you really want to go all out, you could hire a taco man. Otherwise, here are some good recipe ideas:
Carne Asada / Pollo Asada Tacos
Always a good option. Easy to make – just grill it, cut it up and throw it in tortillas. Lay out appropriate toppings like guacamole, bell pepper pico de gallo, pickled red onions, pickled radishes, sour cream, cheese, etc. If you have guests following Keto or low carb, make Cheese Taco Shells.
Hamburgers & Hot Dogs
The classic traditional fare. If you’re feeling fancy, try the Pimento Cheeseburger. For low carb, paleo or ketogenic guests, try The Best No Bun Hamburger. I also love to get Sausages and grill them with caramelized onions or whatever other toppings you like.
Chicken & Veggie Foil Packets (or another variation)
Chicken & Veggie Foil Packets are super simple, clean up is a breeze and you can throw tons of stuff in the packets, toss them in the grill and then just forget about them for a little while. Perfect hands free meal with no clean up.
Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken
Always nice to have something with the beautiful grill marks! Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken is easy to make and delicious.
A crowd pleaser and fun to serve pizza in a new and unique way.
Citrus Dill Salmon
If you wanna keep it lighter, try the Citrus Dill Salmon or another plank grilled seafood. Ceviche would also be a good option!
Taco in a Bag
A great option for easy clean up. Bust open small bags of chips (fritos are great) and top with ground beef, cheese, sour cream and your favorite taco toppings.
Fish Tacos with Slaw and Chipotle White Sauce
For me, fish tacos scream pool party… mostly because fish swim in water and in my head that means it’s a great time to eat fish tacos. This slaw is super refreshing and the sauce is the perfect amount of zing.
Black Bean & Corn Salsa with Avocado (Cowboy Caviar)
Potato Salad with Homemade Mayonnaise
Get the recipe for Potato Salad with Homemade Mayonnaise here.
Healthier 7 Layer Dip
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Get the recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip here.
Pink Grapefruit Margaritas
Because Margaritas are delicious. I love this Pink Grapefruit Margarita on the rocks but you could definitely also blend it to make it more of a slushy. Refreshing on a hot day!
Hollowed out Pineapple with Fruity Drink
Booze Soaked Fruit
Fruit Pizza with Sugar Cookie Crust
A great option if you have a fire pit. *For an adult version: try dipping the ‘mallow in Bailey’s!
Cookies & Brownies
Then you need to think about proper drink serving, food serving and accessories.
Inflatable Drink Cooler
What screams pool party more than an inflatable pool shaped cooler with a Palm Tree sticking out of it? You need a spot for all the drinks so even if it’s not this incredible inflatable drink cooler, make sure you’ve got a great spot to keep cold beverages.
Always a nice and pretty way to display drinks. Make a couple of different drinks for these, lemonade, flavored water, etc. Lots of pretty colors too!
Pressurized Beer Growler
I mean… do you need this? Probably not. But do you love your beer to stay perfectly pressurized and be easy to serve? Probably so. So maybe you do need this after all.
A little kegerator is a fun way to serve some beer.
Dual Faucet Kegerator
If you wanna go all out and pool parties or beer drinking is a regular part of your life, I would definitely consider investing in a dual faucet kegerator. I actually have one myself (one faucet for Nitro Cold Brew, one faucet for Beer) and I have to say it’s one of my favorite things ever. Big crowd pleaser too.
It’s always a good idea to have lots of ice for drinks and cocktails. These are fun ice molds to have. Bonus if you add some fruit to the ice molds to have frozen fruit ice!
If you’re feeling a little wild and really want to go all out, think about a shot/beer luge. This could be a great starter for a game.
I think this is probably a no brainer but worth mentioning all the same. Is it even a party if you don’t have solo cups? You can use them for mixed drinks, beer pong, water, etc. It’s a classic party staple.
Because a drink is more fun with a colorful umbrella in it.
Similar to the drink umbrellas, bendy straws just make drinks more fun. Plus kids like them too!
4. Attire / Decor
First, let’s think about proper Grill Master attire:
Grill Master Apron
If you’re going to be doing grilling, it’s important to designate a Grill Master. Then it’s important to get said Grill Master a dedicated Grill Master Apron. This allows you to keep all the necessities close by so you’re ready for anything at a moments notice. It’s getting hot in here.
Grill Sergeant Apron
Similar to above. Always be prepared.
Grill Tool Set
If you’re gonna be the one in charge of grilling up a feast for hungry pool party people, you’re gonna need to make sure you’ve got the right tools for the job. I like a case like this because it keeps your prized tools well protected and easy to transport.
Decor / Themes
Of course, it’s always a good idea to create a good ambiance for your pool party. If you don’t want a theme, that’s fine but if you do, here are some sure fire crowd pleasers.
God Bless America / USA / Patriotic / Fourth of July
This is an excellent theme for Fourth of July but also year round. Get on your Red, White and Blue and Party in the USA.
Always an excellent choice. Think Hawaiian shirts, leis, Tiki torches, pineapple chunks soaked in vodka or alcohol of choice or hallowed out Pineapples (or other fruit) full of fruity drinks like Pinà Coladas, etc. Tropical fruit kabobs would be great. Drink umbrellas/bendy straws are a must. Shaved ice is the cherry on top.
Glow in the Dark
Get a lot of glow sticks. White shirt. Neon bathing suits. Glow in the dark gear. Glow in the dark cups. And have some neon fun!
White Party / Black Party or Black & White Party
An all white, all black or black and white party can be a classier option for a pool party. Of course, if you’re going to be in the sun, having the white party might be a little better because it will keep you cooler but both of these are great, classy options. String white or black balloons around the yard, get black and white solo cups, throw white swan floaties in the pool, etc.
It’s always nice to have some activities to play at your pool party.
Slip n’ Slide
A cookout / pool party classic. Easy to play, fun and you can get really cool corn hole boards. They come in an array of styles like your favorite sports team, America, etc. You can even get custom ones. They also make traveling versions which is super convenient.
Another great in the pool option. You can play PIG, HORSE or play a full on game.
This is fun and you can play in teams which is always nice.
Frisbee + trash can = kanjam. Well, sorta. This game is really fun! You can also get a cool glow in the dark edition.
Inflatable Beer Pong
Regular Beer Pong
A classic. Toss it around the yard.
Of course you have to have the obligatory beach ball.
5. Miscellaneous Goodies
Some good extra goodies like photo props and sunglasses as party favors will go over well too.
Hopefully this list helps you have the ultimate pool party this Summer or whenever! I know some of my best memories this Summer have been spent around a pool with my buds and good food! Go forth and hang loose
*While I do mention multiple alcoholic beverages and drinking games, please always be responsible when consuming alcohol.