how to have an awesome kids pool party

How to Create an Awesome Kids Pool Party

Back in the 90’s I worked for an amazing man (let’s call him John) whose business was run out of his home. He ran one of the first wedding planning websites in our part of the world. What was remarkable about this guy was he had an amazing capacity to understand what his audience wanted and that extended to his kids.

When his daughter turned 8 he threw her a Pool Party for her birthday and it was the most successful child’s birthday I have seen to date. I have no doubt that even though she is now in her early 20’s the memories of that party will have stayed with her and all those who attended. They have certainly stayed with me.

So here’s the steps to create an Awesome Kids Pool Party

1. Create a Theme

pool party theme - tropical

If you can decide on a specific theme or focus for your child’s party it is going to make your planning that much easier.

John’s theme was high fashion and he really made it something special.

Some party themes you might consider depending on the age of the kids might be

  • Mermaids and Mermen
  • Ships Ahoy
  • Pirates
  • Make a Splash
  • Fun in the Sun
  • Poolside Dance Party
  • Octonauts
  • Little Mermaid
  • Frozen (great in winter if you have a heated pool)
  • Finding Nemo
  • Hawaiian Luau/Moana

A Boy’s or a Girl’s Pool Party

I am going to talk a bit about gender bias here. When kids are little a pool party isn’t going to be a good idea unless the pool is just a blow up paddle pool and all the parents are present (to ensure their children are safe around the water), so with kids of about 7 plus for whom a pool party is the ideal party solution, you are going to have to decide if your theme is going to be geared more towards your child’s gender or more universal.

I advocate a sensible approach and going with what your child really wants. Your four year old daughter may love Little Mermaid or Frozen. At this age your son or daughter will likely have friends of both genders and it’s probably not going to be a problem to go with anything.

But there is a point though where boys and girls tend to stick with their own gender and you may find that your party invitation list is looking one way or another. Just go with it. There will come a time soon enough where they will naturally start integrating again and it might be too soon for your liking.

John’s theme of High Fashion was fun and frivolous and it was totally geared for his daughter but if there had been one or two boys there I’m sure John would have made it cool for them too.

2. Start with the Invitations

Pool party invitations

Invitations can take many forms and there are some lovely and fun pre-made ones you just have to fill in that will fit any theme but if you get creative and have a little fun with it, you can really set the tone for a great pool party.

You can order personalized invitations if you are not DIY savvy. Have a look at some of the wonderful printables out there available for download for just a few dollars. They are well worth the search.

Memorable invitations are beautiful or quirky and you just don’t want to throw them away which is actually quite a nice thing. Some serve dual purposes.

One of the best invitations I have ever received was a CD with some lovely songs that really worked for the party theme. The front of the CD was a printed sticker with the song names on it and the details of the Party on it. I still remember that party whenever I hear those tunes.

Here are some other examples of fun and easy to create invitations:

Use a permanent marker to write the party details on an inexpensive summery accessory like a thong or a beach ball or tie your invitation to the object with coordinating twine or ribbon.

If it is a pirate or mermaid themed party, make your invitations into a treasure map. You can buy paper that looks aged and make it look even more so if you smear it with wet tea bags, burn the edges and roll it up several times. Tie the scroll up with strip of leather or place in a bottle. You can also buy wax seals and sealing wax for that extra authentic look!

3. Decorations

You can literally go nuts with decorations and if you are time poor like me, I find that my ambitions often far outweigh my ability, but if you are crafty and clever and have the time, the better your decorations the more kids get into the spirit of the party. It doesn’t mean that you have to go to massive lengths and turn your house into the Adam’s Family Mansion or that a few balloons and bunting are going to be the make or break of your child’s social future but if you can add a few quirky touches here and there you will find it fun, challenging and no doubt worth it in the end. Just remember the party is going to last a couple of hours at most. There is no need to go overboard (pardon the pun).

I tend to go for decorations that I can re-use or recycle at the end of the party or ones that aren’t going to just end up as rubbish that will pollute. That’s just a personal decision but there are many ways you can decorate that don’t have a huge impact and one way is to utilise recycled paper or cardboard.

Here are some great decorating ideas that don’t cost the earth either in money or in environmental impact, that you can re-use and have fun with your child as they help with planning their party.

  • Turn plain white paper lanterns into beach balls with a little bit of craft paint and string them up in the yard. Follow the lines on the lantern to paint each section.
  • Make a personalized banner and use creative signs for different areas and create zones within your party space for different events within the party, food, organised games, free play, chill out.
  • Balloons are simple and inexpensive and you can use them in different ways to make a bigger splash but use them wisely. Dispose of them thoughtfully so they don’t end up harming wildlife.

4. Food Ideas

Food is best kept simple. I usually go with a 50/50 mix of healthy choices and fun things and kids love to just be able to pick and choose.  Hamburgers and sausage sizzles are a great base menu item for Pool Party. Let kids choose their own condiments and have a vegetarian option if you know there are kids that don’t eat meat. These are things that both kids and accompanying adults will partake of. A taco bar or make your own pizza station can also go down really well if you have an outdoor pizza oven.

Have a decent selection of fruit. Fruit kebabs or watermelon slices on pop sticks encourage kids to not load up on the junk food and they are easy as well as inexpensive.

Have some crackers and a dip kids will like and that can be enjoyed with veggie sticks as well. Tzatziki, Corn Relish or Hummus are good choices.

As far as sweets are concerned, keep it to a minimum. Some themed cupcakes, crisps and popcorn will do the trick. Home-made Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches are always a great dessert option, not to mention your good old fashioned Ice Cream Cone. Offer a few flavours of ice cream and have an adult scoop out cones for the kids.

Consider your theme when planning how to present your food and drinks. Here are some fun ideas for themed treats and funky serving suggestions.

kids food for pool party

5. Games and Activities for the Pool Party

Swimming pool games don’t have to be super elaborate or involve expensive equipment. They just need to be fun, offer a challenge and be creative. When John planned his daughter’s High Fashion Pool Party he went to the local op shop and bought $25.00 worth of sparkly, fun, quirky second hand clothes, hats and accessories and hung them all on a low rack for the party. He marked out a runway in the garden area beside the pool and the kids did a fashion show, putting on the clothes over the top of their own. He had music, prizes for different outfits and the kids could let their imaginations go wild. He made play money and set up a little shop in one room so at the end of all the games the kids could shop in the shop, buy the outfits they had created, accessories, knick-knacks, whatever things he had found that were in good condition that he thought the kids would love. They all went home with a bit of treasure from that party and a whole lot of great memories.

Here are some other fun activities that don’t take a lot of setting up.

  • Dig for treasure, get some beach sand and bury treasure items (sparkly things from an op shop work perfectly or even polished semi-precious stones and crystals) and let kids go on a dig for them. You can even include a treasure hunt with maps and clues. If you don’t have a dedicated sand pit you can put the sand in a corner and say it’s a beach. After the party use it to top dress your lawn!
  • Water Sponge Fight. The good part about water sponges is they can be used again later for the dishes or in the bath or for more summer fun.
  • Splash Contest: Select judges and have the kids show off their best cannon balls.
  • Toss a handful of objects into the pool and let the kids dive for them
  • Water based activities for younger kids are a good move sprinklers, or baby pools work well.
  • Marco Polo: A classic pool game for children and should be on the list of every pool party
  • Personalise a pair of canvas shoes or thongs. This is a really fun activity that is useful after a lot of running around games or for a sleepover. It can serve as a bit of a chill out activity to round out the party before heading home.
  • Pool volleyball. Divide the pool in half with rope or pool noodles and bat the ball back and forth. Keep score and the winning team gets a prize.
  • Sharks and Minnows:Another classic game kids love.
  • Pool Soccer. There are many ways you can adapt this basic premise which is to use a water pistol, hose or other to move the ball towards a goal. 2 teams, masses of fun!
  • Limbo: The timeless game of How Low Can You Go?
  • Hawaiian Dance Contest
  • Lawn Twister
  • A Photo booth made out of cardboard is a fun idea. Have some accessories like a captains hat or navy cap, whistle, floaties, fluoro zinc, goggles and flippers, water pistols etc
  • If pool parties are something your family will do over and over again, you may want to invest in some inflatable fun like a pool slide, slip n slide, inflatable movie screen etc.

Kids pool party games and activities

6. Cake

There are as many ways to make a birthday cake as there are themes to choose from. If you are not a baker then a simple cake can be given a beach theme with some blue buttercream icing, some clean shells from a craft store and some raw sugar for the sand. If you know a cake decorator you might like to commission something special but be aware that fondant cakes take HOURS of work and a cake decorator will rightly charge a few hundred dollars. If you feel like giving fondant work a go or creating your own birthday cake, it is challenging and rewarding and there are many classes you can take or YouTube tutorials you can follow. Here are some simple ideas for pool party theme cakes you might like to try.

pool part cake ideas

7. Party Favours

Party favours can get expensive and if you are not careful they also add a lot of plastic junk to the environment. As a rule I like to ask myself if I would love for my child to get that as a party favour. If it’s a whole load of lollies I am going to have to regulate the intake of, or a bunch of plastic fiddly things I am going to have to pick up and throw out in a week then I am not going to appreciate them and they will satisfy my child for about 5 minutes. Useful things that work well as party favours are

  • Reusable Bubble Blowers
  • A beach themed item that will get real use like goggles or a bucket and spade or a ball
  • Anything the kids made at the party like personalised shoes, sponge bombs, recycled treasures
  • Home-made Playdough and craft shells
  • DIY snow globe jars
  • Stickers
  • CD of photos /video and music from the party (you can have these ready to burn, just copy them to each CD or give them later to each family.

pool party bubble blower favor

So now you’re ready to start planning your amazing pool party. Just remember these three tips – keep it simple, keep it meaningful and keep it memorable and you and your kids will have an absolute blast!

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