When the summer sun hits there’s nothing kids like more than getting wet. Make a splash with an epic pool party and you’ll be the coolest parent on the block. Whether you’ve got an Olympic-sized pool, a kiddie pool, or even just some sprinklers, here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks to make it the most memorable bash of the season.

Decor

Set the mood and let your party goers know how big of a splash they’re in for with bright colors and festive accents. From beach balls to pool noodles, here’s how to make your party look picture perfect.

1. Jellyfish Lanterns

Give your pool party that under-the-sea vibe with these whimsical sea creatures from Me and My Insanity’s Mermaid Birthday Party. All you need are some colorful paper lanterns and some crepe party streamers and ribbon to match. Create the look with these simple steps.

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2. Beach Ball Garland

You can buy mini beach balls or make them on your own for this simple, but stellar garland. All you need is a little paint, styrofoam balls and string! Get the tutorial over at Studio DIY.

3. Mermaid Table Setting

If your guests seem to love spending more time in the water than on dry land, bring the sea tableside with mermaid decor like this spread from Bashery & Co. They won’t mind coming out of the water to eat with seashells and glitter to gaze at.

4. Balloons in a Pool

Make your pool extra colorful and fun by throwing balloons into the mix! It’s a super fun and affordable idea that’ll get kids rushing for more water play. Attendees of the Dukes and Duchesses’ party certainly had a blast.

5. Popping Colors

Summer is all about bright candy colors. You can easily (and affordably) add lots of color with nothing more than plastic dollar store tablecloths like this pool party from Spaceships and Laser Beams. Cover your food table with one and then drape the second tablecloth on the wall for a fun backdrop like the one pictured. 

6. Inflatables

From flamingoes to donuts, pool inflatables come in all kinds of fun shapes and sizes. They can add a splash of color to the main attraction—your pool—and smaller ones can serve as DIY ice chests or just whimsical table decor. 

 

Food

You’ll want to offer plenty of snacks and treats to keep your guests energized. Check out all the cute and clever ways to keep them fueled up below.

7. Pool Noodles

Those colorful pool noodles aren’t just great for water play, they’re also delicious. Well, they are when they’re made of licorice. Give your party guppies a sweet treat with this adorable idea for Pool Noodle Licorice from Hostess with the Mostess.

8. Snow Cone Cupcakes

Can’t decide between serving cake or ice cream? These adorable Snow Cone Cupcakes from Mimi’s Dollhouse are the perfect compromise. They look refreshingly delicious, but you won’t have to worry about them melting in the heat.

9. Sand Dollar Cookies

How cute are these sand dollar cookies from Poet in the Pantry? Your little sous chef can get involved rolling the cookies in cinnamon sugar and putting the sliced almonds on top. Find out how to make these snickerdoodles gone beachy by clicking here.

10. Bear on the Beach JELL-O

Yum! For those with a sweet tooth, these JELL-O pools topped with fancy umbrellas and cute gummy bears will be a hit. Kids won’t be able to get enough sweet delight. Guarantee a line of happy smiles with this recipe from I Sing in the Kitchen.

11. Snack Table

Prepare a snack bar full of healthy choices to keep your kid’s energy up for the day. Let them load up on their dose of fibrous celery, fruit and wafer snacks. Crissy Crafts cleverly decorated her fruit platter to look like a beach ball. Amazing!

12. Pool Water Punch

Just one sign can change everything. Bethany from Maryland Pink and Green labeled her punch pool water, resulting in many snickers and giggles from the kids.

13. Tasty Popsicles

Cool the kids down without any added sugar with these refreshing Honey Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles. For more delicious flavors check out our astounding list of 20 drool-worthy popsicles that are healthy, fresh and downright perfect for beating the summer heat.

Activities

There’s more to water play than splashing and swimming laps. Whether your kids can swim in the deep end or like to float in the shallow end of the (wading) pool, here are some fun games that’ll have them hopping with excitement.

photo: Shelley Massey

14. Water Ballon Piñata

Skip the candy and let the party piñata sprinkle your guests with water instead. Hang overfilled water balloons in a tree or play structure and stand back while they take turns swinging a plastic bat or paper tube to see how many they can burst. Check out more fun water games here.

15. Classic Pool Party Games

You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money on planning some awesome activities for your guests. Keep them entertained and splashing with something as simple as a cannonball competition or a good old-fashioned game of Marco Polo. Check out more classic water games here.

16. Sponge Ball Toss

Move aside water balloons, there’s a new wet and wild game that’ll last much longer! Follow Crazy Adventures in Parenting to learn how to make these squishy, fun-soaked sponge bombs.

17. Sponge Brain Teaser Toss

Let your kids show off their brain skills with this super amusing toss game. Write numbers on sponges. Then get your tot and his or her friends to toss the sponge on to the corresponding frisbees. Older kids who want to step their game up can try throwing sponges with math equations on them. Get more variations of this game over at Blissfully Domestic.

18. Ocean Animal Race

Ready, steady, go! Race your ocean animals in a wading pool by squirting them with a hose or a water gun. Kids will have a blast cheering on their friends or favorite animal. Use string to make lanes for a real Olympic race. See what other kinds of ocean animal diving games you can play over at Toddler Approved!

19. Noodle Sprinkler

You don’t need a pool to have a splashing good time. Turn your garden hose into splash pad sprinkler with nothing more than an inexpensive pool noodle. Get the full directions here from Mommy’s Block Party.

 

Favors

Your guests will be having so much fun they might not want to leave, but you can keep the party going with a fun memento from the day. Check out these awesome party favors that your guests will love and appreciate both during the party and long after it’s over.

20. Fish in a Slime Bag

Let your guests keep the party going with sparkly slime. This adorable Fish in a Slime Bag favor from My Frugal Adventures is the perfect takeaway to remind them of how much fun they had at your pool party.

21. Towel and Water Bottle

Tell your friends to skip the towels and water bottles because you’ve got them ready—as party favors! oh goodie designs packaged theirs with a ribbon and a colorful label.

22. Cool Shades

Protect those big eyes from the bright summer glare. Kids from Miss Prim and Me’s pool party got to choose from a chromatic display of super cool shades.

23. Starfish Headbands

Pool hair? No one will care when you outfit your water-loving guests with these starfish headbands from sandsurfcreations.

24. Beach Ball Party Invite

Forget the usual paper party invites and give your guests something that will really get them excited about your bash with these Beach Ball Invites from The Bubbly Hostess. It’s like an invite and pre-party favor all in one!

photo: Sandra Winters

25. Sunscreen Station

It might not be super exciting for your young pool partiers, but parents will definitely appreciate this favor. Put out all kinds of toddler-friendly sunscreen that your guests can use at the party and even take home. SPF 50 for the face and a spray on one that’s waterproof? Check, check! And look at the extra flair Entertain with Jordan gave to her station!

—Shahrzad Warkentin with Christal Yuen

Featured photo: Pexels

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pool party ideas