Throwing a children’s pool party on a hot summer day will make you the coolest parent in town. Best of all, it doesn’t even need to be a special occasion. If your child’s birthday is in January you can still have a gathering of their friends to beat the heat with a refreshing afternoon in the water. We have some helpful suggestions to make your poolside bash a big splash!
Pool Party Invitations
Parties by the pool are extremely popular with kids of all ages, and there are many whimsical and fun invitations available. Beach balls, flip flops, aloha shirts, swimmers in masks, snorkels and flippers are cute designs to get your guests excited for a day of fun in the sun. If you’d like to add a theme try “under the sea” and mermaid invitations, or even pirates. You can even send a personalized photo invitation of your family lounging by the pool!
Many parents have concerns about safety poolside parties, so it is a good idea to invite the adults to stay for the afternoon. Some hosts even insist parents stay to monitor their own children. It never hurts to have more grown-ups around to make sure a children’s pool party goes smoothly. Whatever you decide, be sure to address this when writing your invitation.
You will also want to ask guests to bring a swimsuit, goggles and towels, as well as a change of clothes if there will be indoor activities later such as a movie night or slumber party. Don’t forget to schedule a rain date, as you never know what Mother Nature will have in store!
Pool Party Favors
You’ll want to provide pool party favors that are practical and fun. Beach balls and other foam or inflatable toys, sunglasses and flip flops, water squirters, even visors and “Gilligan” hats to block the sun. Sun tan lotion is another necessity and you’ll want to provide small bottles as the guests arrive. Another option is to fill spritzers with sunblock for everyone to share; you can even keep these chilled in a bucket of ice for a quick cooldown.
If you want to splurge you can provide goggles, masks, flippers and snorkels; the children can share these if you’re expecting a large crowd. If young children will be present, be sure to have inflatable water wings available. Most of all, have plenty of beach towels on hand!
Pool Party Decorations
Pool parties are the definition of casual. Decorations don’t need to be particularly elaborate as most of the attention will be on the pool itself. Choose summery designs and bright colors that compliment the cool blue water like hot pink, neon green, turquoise and yellow for balloons, streamers and tableware.
Welcome your guests at the front door or backyard gate with a sign or banner saying, “This is the place!” Decorate with balloons and streamers, or even fish nets and an inflatable ring.
While most of the activity will be poolside, don’t neglect to have the house ready for guests. The kitchen and bathrooms will certainly see traffic and you’ll want to designate a private room as a “beach cabana” where guests can change. If you are expecting a large number of guests move fragile and breakable items away from the pool area so the kids can run and play. Plastic chairs are a good idea as they are nearly indestructible. Large umbrellas will be appreciated by adults seeking shade.
If the party will last into the evening, light up the pool area with tiki or paper lanterns. The children are sure to love floating LED “candles” that glow in the water.
Pool Party Activities
There are many fun pool games that your guests are sure to enjoy. Children certainly don’t need activities to have fun in the pool, but they are a good way to keep things under control (especially when the kids get a little rowdy.) Remember to speak to your guests about safety beforehand and make sure an adult is watching at all times.
Marco Polo and beach ball volleyball are classic pool games. Children will also enjoy inflatable raft races or relays with interesting challenges; have them use fancy strokes like the butterfly or see how far they can walk across the bottom of the pool underwater. Young swimmers will love a race to nudge rubber ducks with their noses across the finish line. Older children will enjoy a game of tug of war across the pool. The losers are pulled into the water!
Another cool game that takes a bit of preparation: place two plastic buckets in inflatable rings in the pool. Divide the guests into teams, dump a few large bags of ice in the water and see which team can gather the most ice in five minutes.
It would be wise to have a back-up plan in case of unexpected weather. The living room or play room should be ready for guests, and have some movies, board games or other indoor activities ready to entertain them until the sunshine returns or it’s time to go home.
After the pool party your little swimmers are sure to be exhausted. If you’re having a slumber party, they’ll likely be more than happy to gather their sleeping bags around the television to watch a light summery movie.
Pool Party Crafts
Pool Party Refreshments
The old adage warning not to swim for two hours after lunch is a myth, and your guests will likely want to get back in the pool as soon as possible after eating. If the children are enjoying themselves you may not even want to interrupt the fun for a sit down meal. Simple and easy to prepare finger foods may be enough. Try chips and salsa or even nachos. Grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be cut in the shape of sea creatures with a cookie cutter. You can may also want to set out bowls of popcorn, pretzels, raisins, granola bars and goldfish crackers in for all-day snacking.
A pool party is a great time to fire up the backyard grill and have a barbecue! Serve hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecued chicken with fruit salad or watermelon slices, chips and guacamole and vegetable sticks with dip. Be sure to avoid foods that will spoil quickly or melt in the sun.
Birthday cakes by the pool should be light with fun decorations. Decorate a rounded cake like a beach ball with colorful icing, or try yellow frosting with plastic sunglasses and a candy smile for a “Sunshine Cake.” Or, why not purchase an ice cream cake ahead of time?
Even though they’re in the water, your little swimmers are bound to get thirsty. Help them beat the heat by having self-serve drinks available throughout the party. Keep sports drinks, water bottles and juice boxes in a tub filled with ice, or a large cooler filled with fruit punch. You may even consider buying a snow cone maker; make sure to find a kid-friendly model so your guest can make their own!
After the Pool Party
Goody bags are a wonderful way to say “thank you” and provide your guests with souvenirs to remember your summer pool party all year round. Hand out gummy fish, life savers, bubble solution and blowers or bubble bath, plastic lifeguard whistles and water squirters. Small tote bags or beach pails make the ideal containers.
Your guests’ parents are sure to appreciate the gesture if you have plastic bags on hand for easy transport of wet towels and swimsuits. Don’t forget to take plenty of photographs throughout the party to send with personalized “thank you notes” later!