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Swimsuit season is here, so you’re probably thinking about lounging poolside with a favorite book or swimming laps every morning before work. The pool is also the perfect place to throw a party during the summer months, so here are a few tips to host a pool party for cheap.
Create a Manageable Guest List
The ideal guest list size for a pool party depends on the amount of space available and the ages of the attendees. If you’re throwing a pool party for kids, for instance, maintain a safe adult-to-child ratio, so you can keep an eye on everyone. The younger the age group, the more adults you’ll need for supervision.
If you’re going to serve food, provide enough seating for everyone you invite. Consider picnic tables or lawn chairs. You don’t want the pool to get too crowded, either, so err on the conservative side unless you expect guests to drift in and out at different times.
Stick to Understated Decorations
Unless you’re throwing a themed pool party (such as “under the sea” for young kids), you don’t need to go overboard on decorations. Writing for Allure magazine, professional party planner Audrey Bernstein recommends informal floral decorations in small vases and strings of lights.
You can find coupon codes for party decorations and supplies to help ease the financial burden. Pool parties don’t have to drain the bank account if you shop smart and let the party itself serve as the main attraction. Bernstein also recommends email invitations for pool parties, which will save you money and make your party a little more eco-friendly).
Keep the Menu Simple
Avoid appetizers if you want to throw your pool party on a strict budget. Those veggie trays and cold-cut arrangements add up quickly at the supermarket register. Instead, go for standard pool-party fare: hamburgers, hot dogs and shish kebabs never fail to please both adult and child partygoers. For vegetarian and health-conscious guests, consider making a big salad and spooning individual servings into party cups. Add condiments and salad dressing to a buffet table to round out the menu.
In terms of beverages, alcoholic drinks can quickly eat up your budget. For an adult pool party, consider adding four simple letters to the invitation: BYOB. Serve water and soft drinks, but let your guests bring their own alcohol.
For kids, juice offers an inexpensive and crowd-pleasing choice. You can pick up a cheap beverage dispenser so kids can serve themselves when they get thirsty. Just make sure to reserve one dispenser for water, so nobody gets dehydrated.
Keep Your Budget in Mind for Games
Both adults and kids love to play games in the pool. You don’t have to blow your budget on game supplies, however, if you think creatively. Inexpensive options include inflatable beach balls, water balloons and foam noodles, all of which you can use for multiple games.
You might also plan games that don’t require any supplies at all. Marco Polo and Sharks and Minnows serve as two budget-friendly options. You can also buy a selection of dive toys, so kids (or adults) can compete to snag the most loot from the bottom of the pool.
Alternatively, don’t plan any games at all. Older age groups, from tweens to adults, can often entertain themselves without organized activities.
Make Your Own Photo Booth
These days, you don’t have to rent an expensive photo booth to get great photographs of your partygoers. Make your own DIY photo booth using a few inexpensive supplies, such as colored paper and garlands, and a camera on a tripod. You can appoint an official photographer or use a remote shutter release for the images.
If you’re looking for more action-oriented shots, you can buy cheap underwater disposable cameras. Pass them around to the attendees, so they can capture shots while they’re swimming in the pool. After you get the film developed, you can email the shots to all your guests.