As a pool owner, you’ve thrown your share of unforgettable parties. With the new pool season in full swing, it’s time to take your hosting skills up a notch. With so many food options and pool accessories available, planning a poolside eventcan get overwhelming.

To ensure stress-free planning, it’s important to start with the basics, says Melissa Klein, editor at, an online resource for holiday and party planning. Key questions to ask at the outset include:

  • What is the purpose of this event?
  • Who will attend?
  • What can partygoers contribute to lessen your workload?

Knowing who’s on the guest list allows you to coordinate your food and entertainment options accordingly, Klein says. Plus, if you tell your guests what they need to bring to the party, such as towels and a change of clothes, it allows you to have fun while hosting, rather than always having to worry about what an attendee might need.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start getting down to one of the best aspects of any pool party—the food.

Think beyond classic poolside dishes


great pool party should have the classic summer selection of hot dogs and hamburgers with all the fixings, but Klein says pool owners are striving to offer a little more on their party menus these days.

“Get creative with your menu choices, but always keep in mind that pool parties are casual, backyard get-togethers,” she says. “Finger foods, grilled fruit, bites on a

stick—they’re all easy, can be prepared ahead of time and make for simple serving.”

Here are a couple easy recipes to whip up for your next party, provided by

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs*

Makes 8 servings


  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breasthalves, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
  • Skewers


  1. In a shallow glass dish, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, sesame oil, ginger and garlic powder. Stir the chicken pieces and pineapple into the marinade until well-coated. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken and pineapple alternately onto skewers. Grill 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, or until chicken juices run clear.

Pool Party Pasta Salad**

Makes 24 servings


  • 1 (16 ounce) package farfalle (bow tie)pasta
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 8 ounces fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and chopped
  • 8 ounces diced, cooked chicken breast
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (4 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing, or as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add broccoli florets and asparagus to the boiling water during the last 5 minutes. Drain, and run under cold water to cool.
  2. In a large serving bowl,stir together the diced chicken, kidney beans, black olives, green pepper, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and Italian dressing. Stir in the pasta, broccoli and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This salad is best if chilled for a couple of hours before serving.

Focus on outdoor living spaces

Pool owners consider outdoor living spaces an extension of their home, and they are key elements of any pool party, says Duane Draughon, owner of Paverstone Design Group in Powell, Ohio. Draughon has been designing and building pavilions and fire pits for several of his clients. The pavilions are built as an extension of the house, with shingles to match the roof and, in some cases, even a lighting system with dimmer switches. Ceiling fans also are included in some pavilions, he says.

The fire pit often will serve as a gathering place for conversation and storytelling. Instead of the traditional wood-burning fire pits, clients are asking for gas-burning versions that direct smoke away from the party space. These fire pits come in kits that you can install and remove easily, Draughon says.

When planning the party, you also should think about how to decorate your space. If you’re looking for simple décor, Klein recommends twinkle lights you can easily hang throughout a party space, creating a nice ambiance for guests. Also, adding themed designs for menu cards, vase wrappers and place settings is a fun, inexpensive way to decorate casually and festively, Klein says.

Tailor your event to your guests

There are myriad pool party activities, so try staying away from Marco Polo and other classic games your guests have played many times before. Instead, try playing games

that are new to your guests, Klein says. For the younger crowd, she suggests treasure dives. For older guests, a floating casino can be a fun activity.

Draughon uses a questionnaire to ask clients to describe how they would like to entertain guests and if they’re celebrating a specific event. Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your party—beyond simply showing people a great time—will make the planning process a breeze.

In spite of all your best efforts to plan the party of the season, there’s one thing you can’t predict: the weather. But even if Mother Nature interferes, planning ahead

can ensure your party will happen at some point in the season.

“Depending upon the formality of your celebration, you may want to consider

giving an alternative date in case the weather interferes,” Klein says.