Big-batch drinks, make-ahead snacks, and tropical decor set the scene for a summer party that’s about as stressful to throw as sipping sangria on the patio.
Channel beach day vibes without ever leaving your backyard. A few pitchers of different sangrias (and nonalcoholic drinks) and a menu of fresh snacks served on sturdy bamboo or melamine keep the event—and your workload—low-key. This grown-up pool party is a great excuse to gather friends and family for a summer soiree.
The best part is, almost all of the party supplies you need are featured in our Amazon store, so you can easily check party decor off your shopping list.
Set the Tone
We never need an excuse to pour a cold glass of sangria, but a gorgeous summer setting never hurts. Of course, a pool isn’t required; these ideas also work as well at a block party or for a gathering on the deck. Head outside and arrange beach chairs and party decorations for a seriously Instagram-able party backdrop your guests will love.
Hanging paper leaves will give your party a tropical feel no matter where you’re hosting. Purchase premade leaves to hang for your party decor or make your own using a die cut machine and green patterned paper. Use clear fishing line to hang strands of leaves like we did, or use the leaves to create table runners or placemats. To take the decorations up another notch, pair the leaves with a wall full of DIY party streamers in bright colors!
We love mixing up pitcher cocktails for outdoor parties because they’re so easy to prepare ahead of time, and they’ll stay cold throughout the party, unlike drinks divided into single servings. Sangria is a natural choice for a summer gathering because low and no-alcohol sippers easily flow from afternoon into evening. Mix up a pitcher of Hibiscus-Lemon Water, Cucumber Limeade, Pineapple-Sage Sangria, Peach-Basil Rosé Sangria, or one of each!
Invite guests to your soiree using something they’ll need for the event; a pair of sunglasses inked with party details sets the sunny theme and knocks out the specifics. Purchase the sunglasses in bulk and use a paint pen or alphabet stickers to add a fun message. This invitation works for all kinds of summer parties; whether you throw a summer rosé-theme party or stick to the pool party vibe, these glasses will be totally memorable. Plus, this fun touch doubles as a party favor—they’ll think of this afternoon spent with you every time they pull out these shades!
Stay hydrated without leaving your pool raft. A galvanized bucket slipped into an inner tube (the bucket should be slightly wider than the hole) and filled with ice puts plastic bottles of water in arm’s reach. Infuse the water with watermelon, lime, and mint or mango, orange, and ginger.
Find a shaded area for your food spread and set up a summery display of finger foods—or serve a summer watermelon bar. Even if you’re not serving fruits straight from the tropics, guests will feel like you did with the right serving ware. Bamboo plates and serving boards, wood utensils, and a palm leaf platter will take this serving station up a notch. For an extra tropical touch, tuck fern fronds and clipped greenery into bud vases and scatter them around the table.
Floating over the pool, a picnic table, or the patio, oversize helium-filled balloons instantly set the mood. They’ll stay put if anchored with a stack of 2-inch metal washers at the end of the balloon string. Drop washers onto the pool floor or arrange them around the party zone to keep the balloons in place. Don’t forget to add floaties to brighten up the pool’s surface! These fruit-theme floaties are available in our Amazon store, and Target’s new summer line has dozens of adorable floaties too.
Sangria over ice is a classic summer refresher. Mix up a few pitchers and, for an even faster cool-down, turn favorite summer drinks into ice pops. Play off any cocktail you love—just add fruit to the drink and freeze! We made batches of frozen treats inspired by the Aperol spritz (a summer cocktail made with Aperol, prosecco, and club soda) and Pimm’s cup (made from Pimm’s No. 1, citrus, mint, and cucumber).
Skewers of raw veggies and fruits are easy to grab and eat, plus hold up well outside in the sun. Serving the melon skewers on a Himalayan salt plate (usually used for grilling) imparts a subtle salty note; finish them with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, citrus zest, and chile flakes.