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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.