If you’re like me, then the Fourth of July holiday not only means celebrating our freedoms—it also means spending time with friends and family, preferably by the pool! As you know, we just recently underwent a major overhaul on our backyard and pool house, which means the majority of our summer days and nights will be spent by the pool (no complaints there). With Fourth of July coming up next week, I’ve had party-planning on my mind, and thought it would be a great opportunity to share a few tips and tricks to throwing the perfect summer pool party.
From refreshments, to décor, to the ultimate pool party playlist, there are several elements that go into planning a summer party to beat the heat. Let’s just say I will be using these tips on repeat this summer, as we have friends over to enjoy one of our favorite outdoor spaces and take a cool dip in the pool. Keep scrolling to read up on a tip or two that may help you plan your Fourth of July festivities this year…
First and foremost—whether you’re making the party happen in broad daylight or when the sun goes down—setting the scene before guests show up is a must. Whether this means setting up festive summer décor all around, or simply lining up a few pool chairs and umbrellas, you’ll want to make sure that your guests feel like the environment is intentional and welcoming. If you’re jumping in the pool as the sun sets, make sure you have some fun lighting to keep the party going, like colorful spotlights, pool lights, or tiki torches if you’re going for an island vibe.
Perhaps one of the most crucial parts of pool party planning is having your menu down pat. If you’re just serving finger foods or an entire buffet to feed the masses, make sure everything is cohesive and plentiful. After all, your guests will be expending quite a bit of energy as they swim, and there’s nothing worse than heading to the food table only to find that everything has been picked over. Keep a backup supply of food and drinks in the kitchen so that you can replenish the refreshments as the party goes on, making sure no one goes hungry. If you do end up over-preparing, at least you’ll have some leftovers to last through the rest of the week!
Bonus Tip: If you really want to make your party memorable, prepare a unique snack, dessert, or house cocktail to serve your guests that speaks to your personality and the vibe you’re going for. Not only will everyone be excited to try something new, but they’ll always relate that unique bite to the awesome pool party you threw months (or years) back.
Every pool party needs a well-rounded playlist, and a Fourth of July poolside soirée is no exception! One thing to keep in mind is to make sure your playlist is just what I mentioned—well-rounded. Considering the fact that most pool parties go on for at least a couple of hours, you’ll want to make a selection of songs long enough to span the time you’ll be lounging outside without repeating too many songs. On top of that, try to mix things up when making your selections. While I’m a believer that no pool party is complete without at least a few top hits of the moment, it can also get exhausting to only hear the same songs play over and over that you’ve already heard a thousand times on the radio. That said, mix in a few lesser-known songs that may be new to your guests, but will still keep the energy up in between those songs they know well.
Bonus Tip: I strongly recommend throwing in some old school diva classics into the playlist during peak moments of the party… Whitney, Janet, and Cher, Madonna anyone? Everyone loves a good old karaoke-status song!
Unlike a cocktail party or formal event where guests generally keep their belongings with them the entire time, the casual atmosphere of a pool party means that guests will be bringing extra personal items and leaving them poolside while they go for a swim. With that in mind, make sure you have at least a few safe areas for guests to have the option to leave their things so they don’t have to worry about losing them. This includes anything from an area for guests to kick off their shoes, to a table or cubby for keys, wallets, and phones, or even enough lounge chairs for people to keep their belongings off the wet ground while still keeping an eye on them. Bottom line: Be prepared and make space for guests to feel safe tucking their personal items away.
Bonus Tip: Let guests know beforehand what they should be expected to bring, if you won’t be providing it for them. For instance, if you’re going for a BYOT (bring your own towel) rule, then make that clear before they show up to make sure no guest has to share towels or leave the party soaking wet. In any case, try to have at least a few backup pool towels for anyone who may still forget their own.
Or in other words, clear the way for guests to easily go from entrance, to pool, to bathroom, etc. If you want guests to enter straight through the backyard gate rather than the front door, make sure you direct them to the backyard either with a written sign or an obvious path from your front yard. This tip is also especially important if you don’t want guests trailing water throughout certain areas of the house. Make a clear path for any guests who need to use the restroom or need a place to change, for example, and close any doors to rooms where you prefer to keep guests out. Better yet, if you have a lot of guests, pick up a stylish sign to hang on the bathroom door (or make your own) so partygoers can find the restroom without them getting confused.
Activities and games can make or break a pool party, so don’t skip over this step when planning your own. Be prepared with at least a few games in mind for those who want to play, but also don’t expect every single person to join in if they don’t feel comfortable. If some guests simply enjoy the type of pool party where they can lounge in the sun, socialize, and relax with a cocktail, then don’t force them to be the ringleader of a high-energy activity. All in all, plan some time for games and some time for simple socializing so all personality types feel comfortable and have fun.
Do you have any pool party-planning tips to add to this list? How are you celebrating the Fourth of July next week?
I hope these tips were helpful, and hope you all have a safe and fun Fourth! Keep your eye on the blog for a Fourth of July recipe you won’t want to miss next week…