Top 10 Pool Party Must-Haves

It's not a party without these essential ingredients for fun. Take your next poolside bash to the next level with these Pro Tips.

The sun is shining and the temperature is just right to start planning your next pool party. But before you grab your suit and take the plunge, make sure you have the best aquatic accessories for an unforgettable fête. Make a splash at your next poolside get-together with this top 10 pool party ideas list.

1. FUN FLOATS

If you’re looking to make your backyard an oasis of social media-worthy moments, then you have to have pool floats and inflatable rafts. From flamingo floats to donut, pizza and cactus floats, you can mix and match styles to whatever “floats your boat.” Not only are they photo-friendly, but they’re super comfy for lounging while chatting with friends or catching rays. You can also maximize convenience and relaxation with a drink float. These inflatable holders can keep your favorite beverages close by so you can soak up your drink while you soak up the sun.

Also, make sure you have personal floatation devices at the ready. Life vests, water wings and kick boards are great for kids and inexperienced swimmers.

2. SPEAKERS AND A PLAYLIST

What’s a pool party without a playlist? (Well … it’s still a pool party, but it’s quieter and less fun.) Amp up the entertainment with wireless speakers; there are even waterproof, floating models that allow you to take your tunes into the pool.Bring surround sound to the party grounds by setting up a few speakers in different areas around the pool. This way, whether you are grabbing food, playing yard games or going for a swim, the music will be heard. A playlist has the power to set the tone of the party, so select your songs in advance and let the good times rock ‘n’ roll. When the sun goes down, make sure you party on respectfully and be mindful of your nighttime noise level.

3. POOL DECORATIONS

If you have a theme, don’t be afraid to go all-out with the décor. Decorations can be fun and really elevate your pool party. Colored straws, paper products, garlands and lanterns can all help keep your party on-theme. Bring the Caribbean to your celebration with tropical accessories like paper drink umbrellas.

Consider the time of day, too. If you’re having a night swim, for example, a little lighting can go a long way. Throw some glow sticks into the bottom of the pool or put them inside balloons that float on the pool’s surface for additional light and a funky ambiance. Decorations are important, but having the pool prepped is crucial, so make sure you check your pool chemicals in advance, skim the pool before guests arrive and have extra filters on hand to keep the water clean and ready for fun.

4. POOL PARTY AND LAWN GAMES

Games and activities are a surefire way to liven up any pool party. Plus, guests of all ages can get into the action. Water balloons and squirt gun fights don’t just have to be for the kids. Let your inner-child out for the day, get your hair wet and have fun! Pool games like poolside basketball, beach balls and mini pool balls are all crowd favorites, too.

Or take a break from the water with lawn games like cornhole, badminton, Spikeball, bocce and more. Make sure you set up these games in advance so that guests know they’re available and don’t have to set them up themselves.

5. BIG TOWELS, COOLING TOWELS, DRY TOWELS … ALL KINDS OF TOWELS

Many guests bring their own towels to parties, but make sure you have plenty of extras just in case. Spreading out an extra-large beach towel or even an outdoor blanket can be extremely inviting and a great way to get groups of people together for some good ol’ fashioned chit-chat. Position it on the grass for comfort or on the edge of the pool for a cooling toe dip. You can even layer up your towels for maximum comfort! If it’s an unbearably hot day, consider grabbing cooling towels. If you’re in a lounge chair, use towel clips to get your towel to lay just right. Less fidgeting in your chair means more time to relax. And finally, make sure you have towel racks, or something that guests can hang their wet towels.

6. COOLERS

If you’re having a pool party and it’s hot outside, you’re probably going to want an ice-cold beverage in your hand, right? Right. Having a cooler is essential for the obvious: keeping your drinks icy cold. But here’s some other cool tips to remember:

  • Have at least two coolers — one for adult beverages and one for soda, water and other drinks. If there will be kids at the party, don’t forget options like juice, too.
  • There are coolers that actually float in the water so you can grab a drink without having to call fives on your float.
  • They’re not just for drinks! No one likes warm watermelon. Eating chilled fruits, veggies and other snacks after taking a dip in the pool can be beyond satisfying on a hot day.
  • Keep coolers in the shade to help keep the ice from melting faster.
  • Always have more ice than you think you’ll need.

7. SNACKS AND DRINKS

Pruney hands? No problem. Serve up smaller snacks that everyone can eat, no matter what the state of your fingertips. Keep paper towels or beach towels near the food station so guests can dry their hands before diving into the snack pile. Go for frozen fruit pops, veggie sticks, chips and dip, mini crescent dogs, or anything that doesn’t necessarily require a fork and knife. Grilled goodies that are easy to grab, like sliders or fruit and veggie skewers, are also pool party food favorites. You can also bring the pool party fun to the snack bar with themed treats like lifesavers or goldfish served in a fishbowl. And here’s a snack hack for you: cover your snacks with food cover nets to help keep the bugs at bay.

For thirst-quenchers who don’t like diluted drinks, try this: make ice cubes out of the same type of juice that’s in your juice drink or mixed drink, and your beverage won’t become weakened with water once it melts. You can also color code your drink cups or use a marker to write your name to help keep track of your beverages. And make sure to use plastic dishware near the pool to avoid broken glass (yikes!).

8. INSULATED CUPS

Lounge or play all day with a drink that’s icy cold for hours. Insulated bottles, tumblers, koozies or cups can help ensure your drinks stay as chill as you are. Plus, they come in a variety of colors and prints, so choose one that matches your vibe and you’ll always remember which one’s yours!

9. UMRELLAS AND CANOPIES

Though you might have fun in the sun, make sure there’s a shady space for those who like to chill out. Umbrellas are great for smaller spaces or perched in the center of a dining table, while canopies can offer more shade to more people because they come in a variety of sizes. To find which one’s right for your space and number of guests, check out our canopy buying guide. You can even color coordinate them with your theme or show some team pride with an officially licensed umbrella or canopy.

If wind is in the forecast, don’t forget to look into some canopy weight bags. Your guests aren’t the only ones who may need a bit of shade. Set up pop-up tables under your canopy to keep your food out of direct sunlight. Keeping your cooler under shade can also help prevent your ice from melting faster.

10. SUNSCREEN

Everyone should wear it, so make sure it’s readily available. Set up a “sunscreen station” which guests can easily locate and include a variety or SPF options. For a pool party, water-resistant sunscreen may be best. Make sure it’s applied as the label directs.

So, if you’re looking to throw this summer’s best bash, make sure you’ve referenced this list and checked it twice. Planning ahead and paying attention to small details can take your average pool party to the next level. Combine all the items on this list like floats, games, music and food for the ultimate pool party. And last, but certainly not least, enjoy!