Pool season is practically upon us. We just passed National Pool Opening Day. Pool covers are coming off all across America and pools are getting prepped for prime swim time.
Memorial Day is considered the unofficial beginning of summer in the USA (for our neighbors to the north we have a similar article for Canada Day). This holiday is often celebrated with backyard BBQs and pool parties. If you want to ring in pool season with a Memorial Day Pool Party, here are a few things to keep in mind as you're planning your event.
Plan Ahead and Get Your Pool Ready
It’s not a good idea to try to put together a party at the last minute, but this is especially true for pool parties. Give yourself plenty of time to get your pool opened and swim ready. You might pull back your cover and find a maintenance issue that may take some time to correct. Don’t let poor planning sink your party before it ever starts.
Now, once your pool is ready to go you’ll want to finalize your guest list and send out invitations at least a few weeks in advance. Traditional mailed invitations add a personal touch, but e-vites can work just as well. If your party is themed (more on that in just a bit), try to tie that in with the invitations.
I might also recommend making a Facebook event so that you can give your guests updates or answer questions. This could be especially helpful if your party has a potluck element and guests will be bringing food. It will also send reminders to your guests leading up to the event to keep anticipation high.
Themes and Decorations
Though this is not required for a successful Memorial Day Pool Party, a good theme can really kick a party into high gear. Since Memorial Day is a holiday that honors those who died protecting USA’s freedoms, a patriotic theme is the most obvious choice.
Head to your local dollar store and stock up on red, white, and blue streamers, flags, balloons, and flatware. Get cups and plates with stars and stripes. While researching this article I came across pool noodle fireworks. I thought these decorations tie the pool party aspect into your event in a cute way. If you’re not familiar with these decorations, Google it or search Pinterest. There’s plenty out there.
A red, white, and blue theme is not required. You may want to do something like a Hawaiian luau kind of theme. Or maybe you want to repurpose some Cinco de Mayo decorations for a fiesta theme.
Regardless of the theme, keep it simple and don’t spend a fortune on your decorations. A little goes a long way to making sure your friends and neighbors remember your Memorial Day pool party for years to come.
Food and drink
It wouldn’t be a party without food and drinks. Since Memorial Day is the unofficial launch of summer, grilling is a popular option for preparing food - hot dogs and hamburgers being the obvious choice.
And while burgers and wienies are classics, you can enhance the experience with something like a condiment bar. Set up a small table with ketchup, mustard, pickles/relish, etc. Give your guests a variety so they can craft their burger or dog to their personal tastes. Similarly, you could cook burger sliders with the condiment bar, or have a sundae bar for dessert.
I would like to urge you to grill safe. Grilling mishaps cause thousands of fires each year, and the most common issue is improper grill placement. Make sure your grill is well away from anything flammable and thoroughly clean the cooking surface before you start cooking. If you’d rather not fire up the grill, renting a hot dog cart might be a fun and memorable alternative. Or order a bunch of pizzas. You don’t have to slave away over a hot grill to throw a great pool party.
Turning our attention to the beverages, be sure to have plenty of water and soft drinks on hand. A big jug of sweet tea is also a popular option (especially down south).
If a good number of your guests enjoy beer, wine, or cocktails, consider a tasting of some kind. You could have each guest bring a six-pack of their favorite craft brew or a bottle of their favorite wine. Regarding cocktails, have your guests bring the spirits and you provide the mixers. This adds an extra level of fun to the beverages, not to mention deferring some of the cost to your guests. Booze can really get expensive, after all.
It goes without saying, but if you are going to have alcohol at your party, enjoy responsibly. Do not drink and drive. And try to keep glass bottles or cups out of the pool area. Nothing spoils a pool party like broken glass.
Kick Out the Jams
A good pool party has got to have some good tunes. These days most of us have some kind of Bluetooth speaker or sound system that connects to smartphones. If not, one can be acquired without breaking the bank. Opt for a waterproof option, as it will likely be near the splash zone.
As I see it you’ve got two options for kicking out the jams. One would be to curate a pool party playlist on your music streaming platform of choice or crowdsource the tunes by giving some of your guests access to the Bluetooth speaker. If you’re hosting a kid-friendly party, maybe the best bet is to curate your own playlist to minimize the chance of a naughty track popping up in the shuffle.
Games and activities
Good food, good friends, and a swimming pool is more than enough for a great Memorial Day pool party, but some fun activities can certainly elevate the proceedings - especially if there’ll be children at the party.
In the pool, you could coordinate some swim races, noodle races, or float races. You could toss a bunch of loose change into the pool and have a “treasure hunt”. Sharks and Minnows is another classic pool game (and a personal favorite from my childhood). A splash contest could be fun. If you have a poolside basketball hoop or a volleyball net, organize a game with your guest.
Out of the water, games like corn hole, horseshoes, or a ladder toss are popular. If you’ve got the equipment, volley ball or badminton. Since most of your guest will be in their swimsuits, maybe you’d even like to have a water balloon war.
For a more low key gathering, maybe just bust out some playing cards or another popular card game like Uno or Rook. Your guest might also like to play dominos if you’ve got a set. Tip: you can cut up an old pool noodle to make card holders.
Be Safe and Have Fun
As with any gathering around the pool, safety should be the number one priority. May is National Water Safety Month, after all. If anybody is in the pool, there should be a water watcher keeping an eye on the swimmers. Make sure to establish your pool rules before anybody jumps in. If you want a pool safety refresher, see our Summer Safety Checklist article.
If you have any other Memorial Day pool party ideas, leave them in the comments. And if you’re looking for more inspiration for your upcoming pool party, visit Latham’s Pinterest Page. We have a board especially for pool parties.
Cheers to a great pool season!