Summer is almost officially here, which means: It's pool party season. So if you have a swimming hole in your backyard — or your apartment building — that's primed and ready to dive in, start planning your festivities now. Because beyond the glistening chlorinated water and the warm rays of the sun, you'll need a few key items to guarantee your party makes a memorable splash. Here are 17 must-follow tips to help you pull off a swanky poolside soiree.
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1. Fill your lagoon with playful pool floats.
No poolside bash is complete without an array of Insta-worthy pool floats. This chic rosé float ( $28 ) is guaranteed to be the life of the party. And don't forget drink floaties, too — you wouldn't want those to sink.
2. Create some shade with chic umbrellas.
Give your guests a refuge away from the harsh sun by setting up a gorgeous UV resistant umbrella, like this leopard print number with fringe detail ( $249 ). Not only will it create some much-needed shade, but it'll also add a hint of boho-chic charm to your party's decor.
3. Dry off in style.
Towels are sort of a no-brainer for a pool party. But that doesn't mean you should subject your guests to using all of the hole-riddled, scratchy remnants of towels that have been taking up space in your linen closet since the late '90s. Invest in a few of these lovely striped beauties with fringe detailing ( $64 ) instead. But be forewarned, your guests might try to "accidentally" take them home.
4. Light up the night with hanging lanterns.
5. Quench everyone's thirst with mind-blowing refreshments.
This refreshing rosemary, grapefruit, and gin concoction dreamed up by Kate from Tell Me Tuesday is downright delish. And it can be made as both a cocktail and a mocktail, so everyone can wet their whistle and enjoy.
6. Provide an Insta-worthy photo backdrop.
You know the expression, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Pretty much the same question holds true for a party that no one has Instagrammed. Which is why your bash must have a memorable photo backdrop so you can avoid having a social nightmare on your hands. Opt for this cute DIY beach ball wall by Ashley over at Sugar & Cloth that just begs to have its picture taken.
7. Serve up tasty bites on pretty platters.
8. Finger foods make the perfect party fare.
If you don't feed partygoers, they tend to get a little hangry. So provide snack options that are quick and easy, like these watermelon slices on a stick.
9. Provide lots of comfy seating options.
Whether you prefer a reclining pool chaise or this comfy beanbag chair ( $199.99 ), be sure to give your guests a cozy place to lounge. Besides, how can anyone be expected to work on their tan while just standing around?
10. Prevent dehydration with fruit infused water.
Soaking up the sun and splashing around in the pool is hard work. In order to prevent dehydration, offer your guests some fruit infused agua fresca — like these refreshing options by Sugar and Charm — to quench their thirst in between cocktails.
11. Keep playful spirits high with a few outdoor games.
Sorry, but it's not enough to have a swimming pool, snacks, cold drinks, and an awesome playlist — your party needs a few fun outdoor activities, too. Challenge your friends to a riveting game of bowling using gilded pineapples and a gold painted watermelon to keep the good times rolling.
12. Dine on elegant dishware made for the outdoors.
Complement your pretty serving platters with durable and elegant dishware like this rustic, wood-grain design from Pier 1 Imports ( starting at $7.95 ).
13. Swanky drinks deserve sparkling glassware.
Just because your party is outdoors doesn't mean you have to use paper cups. Add a bit of sparkle to your drink station with this textured acrylic glassware set ( $19 set of four ) that you can use and reuse all summer long.
14. You'll be sipping pretty with colorful paper straws.
Whether you just don't want to mess up your perfectly painted pout, or the arm workout it takes to lift your glass all the way up to your mouth is just too much to bear, these adorable paper straws ( starting at 78 cents for 10 ) will put your beverage concerns to bed.
15. Blow up balloons, balloons, and more balloons.
What's a celebration without a few balloons? Or better yet, a lot of balloons? Take a page out of Brittany Watson Jepsen's handbook over at The House That Lars Built and fill up your pool with these colorful and festive air-filled party faves.
16. Playful tiki drink umbrellas make everything better.
This might be a little extra, but who doesn't like extra? Make these fun DIY tiki drink umbrellas. Your guests will absolutely love them!
17. Pump up the jams with floating speakers.
Crank up the tunes and get your party started right. This floating LED bluetooth speaker ( $99 ) lets you stream the rad party playlist you spent hours creating right from your pool. And bonus: There are seven changing LED light colors that will brighten up your summer bash even after the sun goes down.
Maryn Liles, a former NYC magazine editor now living in sweet home Alabama, is obsessed with all things home decor. She believes people's spaces should reflect their personalities — which is why you can find lots of hand-painted furniture, sentimental wall art and playful decor accents around her place.