After quite the winter/spring (was there even a spring, really?) in Vancouver, it’s finally summer. That means it’s pool party season.

Get out there with friends and family and make the most of your pool this summer by hosting a pool party. Here are some helpful tips that will make your pool party memorable, fun and simple.

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Photo credit: Martha Stewart

How to decorate for a pool party

Don’t skimp on decor at your pool party. Details are what make a party exciting, or boring. So go all out.

Lanterns

Hang paper lanterns from trees and from the roof overhangs, and from any gazebos or other overhead structures. Buy smaller lanterns for the tables and pool deck. String them with lights inside, or add faux candles to take your lanterns from day to night with a colourful glow.

Glow sticks

Glow sticks are fun for kids when the sun goes down. Let the kids wear them as necklaces or buy the long sword-like ones for after-dark jousting fights in the pool! Use pool noodles as the “horses”.

Tiki torches

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Photo credit: Martha Stewart

Nothing says summer party like tiki torches. Install these around the sitting area, near but just out of reach of the food. Choose citronella-infused oil for the tiki torches to keep bugs away (not that we have many mosquitos in Vancouver).

Accessorize your food

Inject colour into your food and snack display with colourful plastic plates and cups, coloured cutlery, and decorative “extras”. Find multicolour straws from your local party store, and add cute colourful flowers and umbrellas to them, like party guru Martha Stewart did.

 

Pool party eats – what to serve

Finger foods that are easy to eat while standing are perfect for a pool party. Don’t try to get everyone sitting down for a meal – meals can be too heavy, and the kids will want to escape to continue playing. Your guests are more likely to pick at foods that are easy to grab on

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Photo credit: Martha Stewart

the go, plus they’ll feel lighter – a must for bathing suit season.

Fire up the BBQ for your party – it’s the perfect time to be grilling!

Fish tacos

Grill fresh halibut, salmon, mahi mahi or snapper on foil on the BBQ and season with lime and pepper. Warm small tortillas for serving, and top tacos with a lime and cayenne aioli, chopped cabbage, fresh salsa and cilantro. Pineapple mango salsa is great for really hot days.

Sliders

Mini sliders are perfect barbecue food! You can get mini beef burger patties from many stores, or make them yourself. You could also do fish sliders, or use grilled mushrooms for a vegetarian option.

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Photo credit: Martha Stewart

Pasta salad

A summer staple! Make your family favourite, or try this fresh tomato basil pasta salad recipe.

Bright beach-themed desserts

How cute are these beach-themed cupcakes? The crumbled graham cracker dusting on top looks like sand! The kids will go crazy. Bright muffin liners and colourful umbrellas are a must.

 

The perfect non-alcoholic summer drinks

Heat, sun and swimming do not pair well with alcohol. Besides the safety factor, there’s also dehydration to consider, especially for all-day parties. Here are some delicious non-alcoholic drink options that adults will love, and kids can enjoy too.

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Photo credit: Punchbowl

Serving drinks in a punch bowl makes it easy for people to grab a sip whenever thirst strikes, plus cuts down on prep time. Keep jugs of ice water nearby as well.

Orange lemonade

Sweet and citrusy, this drink is perfect for summer and full of vitamin C. Here is the recipe.

Non-alcoholic sangria

This fruity sangria recipe skips the wine and makes room for attractive starfruit slices, which you can get at most markets and grocery stores in Vancouver.

Paloma fizz mocktail

A paloma is a refreshing summertime favourite that the grown-ups will love. Get the recipe here.

Non-alcoholic mojito

There’s nothing more classic than a fresh, bright mojito. The non-alcoholic version is just as tasty as the original. Here is how to make it.

 

Essential pool party safety tips

A pool party with an emergency is never fun. Be prepared and alert (another reason to skip the alcohol), and everyone can have fun all day.

Have a First-Aid kit nearby

Keep a First-Aid kit near the pool and sitting area. Stock it with bandages, antiseptic and gauze – nothing too involved.

ALWAYS watch the kids

Around the pool, it is critical to always keep a pair of eyes on the kids, even for kids who know how to swim. An adult who is not drinking should always be the designated watcher, and be sure to elect two or three backups for when someone is in the washroom or is otherwise inside. Never leave the pool unattended.

Keep extra sunscreen on hand and within reach

Having sunscreen within view will remind everyone to reapply often. Keep aloe on hand too in case burns happen. Kids and adults should all wear minimum SPF 50 and should limit sun exposure on especially hot days. Reapply often.

 

Pool party games for kids (and grown-ups)

A pool is instant entertainment for kids, but having some games ready for your pool party just adds to the fun. We have a list of four cool inflatable pool games to try, and three DIY pool games you can make with the kids.