Labor Day weekend is a great time to spend with friends so why not host a pool party? You can create a memorable event with just a few simple steps:
1. Send an invitation. You can either mail it or use many of the web-based invitation sites such as Evite.com. The web-based invites can be customized for a beach/summer theme and can be send almost instantly (allowing you to throw an impromptu party!)
2. Use colored chalk to decorate your driveway, pointing your guests to the backyard.
3. Have some background music playing... some summertime faves include the Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet, and doo-wop music in general. Heck, whatever you think would add to the party atmosphere (My friend always has Metallica in her music mix). Create some mixes on your iPod or go old school and make a "party mix tape"!
4. Set the mood with beach decor. Some simple (and cheap!) burlap fabric over your tables will give a sandy appearance, just scatter a few shells around. Add unfussy flower arrangements in soda bottles, milkglass vases, enamelware; peonies, daisies, queens anne lace create a "just picked from my garden" look. A few hula skirts from the local party store can be attached to your deck umbrella or your tables (as a table skirt, under the burlap). Just make sure that the fringes are away from open flame!
Use sandpails to hold utensils, napkins, and chips. Don't have any? Then use clean terra cotta pots or baskets with bright pastel napkins as containers.
Use simple white plates for a crisp look. Don't want the dishes to wash later? Use green disposable plates (made out of potato starch, sugarcane, or bamboo).
Don't forget garbage and recycling containers (you can dress them up with hula skirts if you are really ambitious!)
5. Have a little area reserved for items guests may have forgotten to bring: Extra beach towels, flip flops, non-Deet bug spray and sunblock (keep the bottles shaded or in a bowl of ice), and some shawls for when the sun goes down and your guests get chilly.
6. Create several seating options including some chairs in a shaded area (Have beach umbrellas? Use them!). It will encourage conversation and is great for your older party-goers.
7. Get everyone involved through games. Set up the water hose and sprinkler for musical sprinkler (sprinkler roulette). Play games like limbo, watergun fights, pool volleyball. Have plenty of pool toys and floats around. For those who don't want to get wet, croquet and bocce are fun options and great for breaking the ice.
8. Someone new to the group? Make them the official event photographer. You'll have photos to share on your website (or photohosting site flickr.com, shutterfly.com, etc) and they will get to make new friends.
The party doesn't have to stop at sundown9. When it starts getting cooler, ask your guests if they would like to borrow those shawls. And set a fire in your firepit area (or turn on the outdoor heater).
10. Turn on the outdoor light strands that you tucked in the bushes, in the trees, etc for a nice twinkly look. Hanging paper lanterns also will do the trick.
11. Light the citronella candles to keep away the bugs (our BugZapper candle will do the trick). Like Susan, a Heidi's Cottage regular customer, you can create some inexpensive lighting around the deck. Just use your empty HC candle mason jars and add a tealight inside. For an even more summery look, nestle the tealight in an inch of sand poured in the jars. Do the same with a larger glass bowl and more tealights for a pretty centerpiece. Add some seashells for a final touch.
12. Finish the night around the fire, sing campfire songs, share marshmallows.
13. E-mail a thank you with a link to the party's photos. You can also share a recipe featured at the party.
What if it rains?Just bring the party inside...Create an emergency weather kit for the children. Fill it up with markers, coloring books, non-drying clay, and puzzle books. But if it's not thundering or lightning... let them play outside for a while (nature's sprinkler system).
Push your furniture aside and put tablecloths on the floor... indoor picnic!