10 Theme Parties to Throw This Summer (Just Because)

Who needs a reason to throw a party?!

With summer in full swing, we've got pool parties on the brain. Everyone loves a luau or patriotic bash for the Fourth of July, but I wanted to round up a few out-of-the-box ideas for some themed pool parties that can really grab the spotlight during these warm-weather months. (And even if you don’t have a pool of your own, feel free to forward this article on to your friends and neighbors that do!)

Vintage Surfing Bash

Photo by: Kara's Party Ideas via Very Pretty Parties

Kara's Party Ideas via Very Pretty Parties

If you love old movies like Beach Blanket Bingo, then you’ll have fun with this retro, beachy, pool party theme. If anyone in your family is a surfer, even better! Use some of their surf gear as decor around the pool. Hit up your local thrift store for some fun Hawaiian shirts or retro swimsuits. (You can even have a rack available at your party with some shirts your guests can grab upon arrival.)

Set up a surf and turf theme on your food table. For more snacks you can try finding some retro candy items. And make sure to blast some music from a local oldies station or Pandora's Surf City station for some surf-friendly tunes.

We're Loving: Vintage Surf Party / Kara's Party Ideas

Moroccan Riad

CI-She-n-He-Photography_Exotic-Wedding-pink-orange-vertical_s3x4

CI-She-n-He-Photography_Exotic-Wedding-pink-orange-vertical_s3x4

©She-n-He Photography

She-n-He Photography

If you’re already obsessed with the Moroccan decor trend, this one will be an easy one for you to pull off. Set up your pool area like it’s a traditional Moroccan house or riad. This would be perfect if you're planning an evening or nighttime bash, as it can look moody and elegant. Put some of your favorite Moroccan pillows around your outdoor space on chaise loungers, and hang metal lanterns from the trees. If you have any Moroccan-style ottomans or poufs, bring those out as well. Choose plates and flatware in gold or other metallic tones. (You can even use paper or plastic—there are lots of available choices these days.)

We're Loving: Moroccan-Themed Dinner Party / Pretty Mayhem

Magical Mystery Tour

Photo by: Apartment Therapy

Beatles lovers will really dig this idea: a magical mystery tour pool party. You can really have some fun with this one and let your imagination run wild. However, this adorable unicorn floaty is one of the first things I would order.

For snacks you can do bowls full of colorful jelly beans for a serious rainbow color pop or chocolate-covered strawberries ("Strawberry Fields Forever"). You could make fun decorations with signs that declare messages from other Beatles songs like "All You Need Is Love." And of course, you can make a fab Beatles playlist to keep all of your guests entertained.

We're Loving: Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour / Apartment Therapy

'80s Music Videos

Photo by: Living Locurto

MTV, neon and big hair — if all of these things make you smile, you might be a child of the '80s. In which case, you'll love an '80s music video-themed pool party. Guests can come dressed as an ode to their fave '80s singers or characters. (Think of the women in Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video or Olivia Newton John's "Physical" for inspiration.)

If you have access to TV screens in your outdoor space, make a playlist on YouTube and let these videos play on a loop, or simply make a playlist of your favorite '80s jams and play it through portable speakers. You can also find some fun '80s decorations, like this inflatable boom box.

We're Loving: Awesome '80s Birthday Party / Living Locurto

White Party

Photo by: One K. Renee ; Jennifer Ross Photography

One K. Renee ; Jennifer Ross Photography

P. Diddy throws a white party, the Real Housewives throw white parties, so why not you, too? This is another fun idea for an evening or nighttime bash.

Ask all of your guests to come dressed in white, and deck out your space with white accessories. Set up tea lights all over your patio, and if you really want to go overboard, fill up your pool with white beach balls for some added drama. Check the wedding aisle of your local craft store for white candy and other white accessories like serving pieces and tableware.

We're Loving: A White Party to Remember / One K. Renee

Country Picnic

Lounge-Worthy Lawn

Lounge-Worthy Lawn

A ring toss and a picnic blanket invite family and friends to lay in the grass on a sunny day and enjoy time together.

Photo by: Eric Perry

Eric Perry

For a more rustic, down home pool party, consider a country picnic theme. You could set up beautiful quilts all over your lawn and make a lunch "basket" for each of your guests. (Thrift stores usually have a big selection of baskets you can get ahead of time for a dollar each.) You could make a simple lunch of sandwiches, chips and a drink such as La Croix seltzers or some bottles of lemonade.

Simple flower arrangements would look pretty in old tea or coffee cans around your space, and you can play your favorite country station or create a folk or bluegrass music playlist.

We're Loving: Pack a Posh Picnic

Summer Camp

HGTV Summer Camp: Glamping Setup

HGTV Summer Camp: Glamping Setup

Join HGTV.com's editorial team as they create nostalgic camping projects with a grownup twist.

Photo by: Jason Kisner

Jason Kisner

This is a fun theme to tackle for a group of your nearest and dearest friends. Buy some whistles at your local party or discount shop and give one to each guest as they arrive so everyone can pretend to be a camp counselor. Create a fun cocktail reminiscent of the "bug juice" we used to drink in camp, or set up a s'mores bar where people can grab marshmallows to roast for dessert. For some extra fun, divide your guests up into two teams and hold your own "Color War" where everyone can compete against each other in different activities.

Throw a Luxury Camping Party at Home

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You Don't Have to Rough It

Take dining alfresco to a new level by organizing a glamping dinner party. Guests get to spend the night in comfy tents after a scrumptious spread in open air. Glamping is a rather unique sort of experience, so the items you will need to take with you will differ greatly from those you would use on a basic camping trip.

Summery Popsicle Invites

Get friends in the mood for some outdoorsy fun with creative invitations shaped like Popsicles. Download the invite template here.

RVSPrizes

Send guests who RSVP "yes" a camping kit that includes hand towels, wipes and hot chocolate mix in chic pouches such as these by Hammocks and High Tea.

Thoughtful Favors

Attention to details such as paper fans goes a long way in making guests feel special. Order fans in assorted colors that pop against the subtle, natural backdrop.

Carry the Theme

Creative labels on water bottles carry the theme of party. Claudia of fig2design designed lovely pieces for invitations, menu cards, favors and food labels that make guests feel welcome and in the party spirit. Place water bottles on beverage stations as well as in each tent.

Handy Snacks

Make sure to have plenty of snacks and nibbles for guests to enjoy during the day. These paper pockets of mixed nuts are portable and can be slipped into backpacks for hiking.

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  2. glamping
  3. holder

Setting Up Camp

Whether you are glamping at a designated campground, your family's estate garden, the beach or your own backyard, make sure to pitch the tent on level ground. Clear sticks and stones away beforehand. With so many options available, finding a pop-up weatherproof tent has never been easier. Choose one that best meets your needs in terms of size and portability. This one from Ikea works well because it has a solid structure, movable drapes and is large enough to fit two cots.

Folding Furniture

Chairs, cots and tables are key elements for creating a comfortable sleep/lounge area. Layer them with plenty of pillows and throws in outdoor fabrics. There's just something about snuggling up under a canvas tent and not having to worry about your air mattress going flat in the night!

Light Up the Night

It's important to think about lighting, especially once it gets dark. The warm glow of candles, string lights and lanterns creates a fun outdoor mood. Tea lights, and many battery-operated lighting options, are available at stores like Target and Home Depot. Hang lanterns from the tent ceiling using ribbons. Arrange some tea lights in cans or votives along the path leading to the campsite.

Transform the Tent

A few easy DIY ideas can transform the look of the tent. Colorful paper streamers along the canopy add movement and visual interest. Or pin circle cutouts in various sizes to the drapes.

From Tent to Table

Much like hosting a get-together at home, when setting up a dinner table outdoors, decide on a color palette and chose elements that require minimal fuss. Set up folding tables for the buffet station and dinner table.

Start by covering tables with heavyweight cottons and linen fabrics. Oilcloth is another great alternative. Here the table cover is layered with silicone placemats from Modern Twist. The gold graphic brings a touch of glamour, and it looks chic against the black-and-white stripes. These place mats are easy to clean, nonporous, provide a germ-free surface and are great to wrap fragile items in.

Gilded Accessories

Colors like blues, pinks and yellows create a fun and cheerful look. Gold accents look great in sunlight as well as in the soft glow of candles. Gold flatware also brings a level of elegant sophistication to the table.

Pachyderm Place Card Holders

The gilded elephant place card holders from The Knot Wedding Shop work well with the overall look of the table.

DIY Tin Can Vases

No party decor is complete without fresh-cut flowers. For this look, choose dual-toned ranunculus and pink peonies, then place them in painted tin cans and bud vases. Spray each can in two colors using painter's tape. Cobalt bud vases with single stems pop wonderfully against the black-and-white striped tablecloth.

Printed Menus

Zigzag menus on neon card stock play up the bright colors while informing guests what to expect for dinner.

Durable Dishes

Melamine plates and tumblers are ideal for such a setting, and with so many designs available, you won't have to compromise on style. These dinner plates are from West Elm and the salad plates are by Jonathan Adler. Hint: Pick up a few sticks and spray-paint them gold to add a bit of nature to the table.

Fiery Grilled Shrimp With Honeydew Gazpacho

Cold soup and hot shrimp: The blend of honeyed sweetness with intensely savory vegetables makes this dish refreshing and a delightful combination for warm nights.

Goat Cheese Quesadillas With Tomato and Corn Salsa

Hint: Make craft paper pockets for quesadillas to keep hands clean.

Grilled Pears With Dulce de Leche

Grilled pears are an excellent dessert and couldn't be simpler to prepare.

Get Toasty

Light up a camp-side fire in a portable fire pit for guests to lounge around after dinner.

Olympic Games

Photo by: A Small Snippet

A summer Olympics-themed pool party is another fun idea for an active group of friends or family. Let the kids participate in some swimming competitions, and purchase some faux medals that you can give out to everyone. Ask everyone to come dressed in their favorite red, white and blue-themed swimsuits and attire.

We're Loving: How to Host an Amazing Olympics Party / Buzzfeed

Beach Club

Beach backyard, beach party

Beach backyard, beach party

©Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

For a more elegant shindig, consider throwing a beach club-themed pool party. You can strategically place your outdoor umbrellas around the pool to create mini-cabanas. Another fun idea is to go to your local office supply store and purchase name badge holders. You can then design simple “beach pass” inserts on your computer and give one to each guest as they arrive. You can float a bunch of beach balls or pretty rafts in the pool and do a fun barbecue with chicken, grilled vegetables and burgers.

We're Loving: Beach Party Ideas / DIY Ready

Bond, James Bond

Photo by: Kara's Party Ideas via IDEA! event + style

Kara's Party Ideas via IDEA! event + style

If you really want to go all in on a fun theme, try throwing a James Bond-inspired pool party. You can hit up your local party store and buy a bunch of water guns and sunglasses to give out when your guests arrive. Embrace the Casino Royale theme and use poker chips to decorate your food table. Use plastic martini glasses to serve all of your beverages.

We're Loving: Secret Agent Party / Kara's Party Ideas

Classic Cocktails
21 of Our All-Time Favorite Drinks

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Negroni

With equal parts Campari, gin and vermouth, this seemingly-simple cocktail is actually quite intriguing with a bittersweet taste that is both refreshing and complex. Orson Welles was once quoted saying, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other out.” The Negroni is traditionally garnished with an orange peel and served on the rocks.

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/martiapunts

Manhattan

This colorful, bourbon-based cocktail is recognized for its prominent reputation. You'll often see a traditional Manhattan in the hands of New York socialites or among ritzy, fashion-forward movie personalities such as Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot. And, of course, no Manhattan is complete without a cherry on top.

Dirty Martini

Despite its suggestive name, the Dirty Martini is actually quite sophisticated. This gin-based martini features a surprising splash of olive juice, making it slightly different than its dry counterpart. The salty taste creates a pleasing accompaniment to dry vermouth and gin.

Whiskey Sour

Known for its mature taste, this bourbon-based cocktail is best when mixed with fewer ingredients and garnishes. Skip the pineapples and umbrellas — all this drink needs is whiskey, sugar and lemon juice (and maybe a cherry and orange wedge for garnish) to give it a genuine look and flavor.

Mojito

This classic Cuban cocktail features a combination of citrus, sweet and mint flavors to overpower the potency of rum and provide a refreshing taste. A Mojito can be especially enjoyable on a hot summer day while lounging poolside.

Old Fashioned

Take a step back in time with a simple and genuine age-old cocktail: the Old Fashioned. Famous in 19th-century bars and gentlemen's clubs, this bourbon-based drink even became a favorite beverage of President Harry S. Truman.

Sidecar

In cocktail language, “sidecar” actually refers to what’s left over after a bartender mixes a drink. He or she will then pour the remainder into a shot glass on the side, hence the sidecar. But the sidecar has evolved into so much more than a few extra sips. A tasty combination of brandy, triple sec and lemon juice, this incredible drink has definitely come into its own.

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/SanneBerg

Long Island Iced Tea

For those who love iced tea, this Long Island-based highball is even better. It may look like a regular glass of tea, but a mixture of vodka, rum, tequila, gin, triple sec and cola give it a strong and tasty kick.

Lemon Drop

The Lemon Drop martini is the perfect combination of sweet and sour. Its lemonade-style appearance and flavor make it an ideal beverage for those that like to disguise the potent taste of alcohol. If you're making this drink for party guests, garnish with a fun and colorful lemon twist and add sugar around the rim of the glass for extra sweetness.

Bloody Mary

This popular and complex beverage can be as spicy or mild as you like. Flavorings such as Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper can be added according to your preferred taste. Bloody Marys are most often garnished with a celery stalk, lime wedge and olives, and are the perfect accompaniment to a casual weekend brunch.

Mint Julep

A Southern favorite, this fresh-tasting drink features mint, sugar and of course, Kentucky bourbon. Always served in a silver cup, Churchill Downs made the Mint Julep the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938, serving them in souvenir cups, a tradition that lives on today. 

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/bhofack2

Gin and Tonic

The classic Gin and Tonic cocktail originated in the 18th century and is especially popular during the hot summer months. Typically garnished with a lemon or lime, this simple beverage is a fizzy and refreshing drink with a pleasantly bittersweet taste.

Margarita

Most often enjoyed in Mexican restaurants and to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the States, it might surprise you to learn that this delicious blend of tequila, triple sec and lime juice is not actually a traditional Mexican drink. In fact, the origin of the Margarita is still somewhat of a mystery. But there’s no doubt, it’s the perfect addition to a basket of chips and salsa.

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/mphillips007

Moscow Mule

Believe it or not, vodka hasn’t always been such a popular choice of spirit in the United States. So rumor has it that when a bartender couldn’t move it (along with several cases of ginger beer), the Moscow Mule was born. Served in a copper mug with a hint of lime, this refreshing beverage has been a bar staple ever since. 

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Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/Kesu01

Irish Coffee

A bit more intricate than simply adding a shot of whiskey to your morning coffee, a true Irish coffee features strong, dark coffee, Irish whiskey and brown sugar. A sweet layer of heavy whipping cream is the perfect finishing touch to this rich cocktail. 

Daiquiri

Originally a mix of rum, lime and sugar, the classic Daiquiri has since taken on many forms, including the popular strawberry variety. And though the winning combo was not the first of its kind, the use of Carta Blanca Rum from Cuba gave this drink a fresh spin. Originally served on the rocks, author Ernest Hemingway preferred his frozen and by the double. 

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/martiapunts

Screwdriver

Fresh orange juice and vodka make up this simple, two-ingredient cocktail that can be found all over the world and with several ingredient variations and additions.

Mai Tai

The name Mai Tai actually translates to “out of this world” in Tahitian, and that’s exactly what it is. This summertime cocktail is actually quite intricate with a torrid history that originated in the 1940s. The tropical beverage got its start in California with the wake of tiki-bar culture, but the true inventor of the popular rum cocktail is a mystery to this day. But to enjoy this tasty concoction, all you really need to know is which dark and light rums you prefer.

Tom Collins

This simple, lemonade-style cocktail features gin, lemon juice, club soda and sugar to create a sweet and fizzy combination. Created in the 19th century, the Tom Collins was the classiest cocktail of its day and is still considered a fancy beverage for warm, summer days.

Cosmopolitan

A variation of the classic Daisy, the Cosmopolitan is an exceptional balance of vodka, triple sec and cranberry and lime juice. Generally served in a Martini glass, the Cosmopolitan grew in popularity in the late 1990s thanks to the sultry tastemakers of Sex and the City

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/Stockphoto24

Caipirinha

It may be Brazil’s national cocktail, but Americans have definitely caught on to this refreshing drink that is actually made from a unique spirit known as cachaça (made from the fermentation of sugarcane juice that is then distilled). Add some sugar and lime, and you have yourself a delightful beverage with a kick.

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/ivanmateev

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