When brainstorming those summer pool party ideas, don’t underestimate the fun of a well-planned movie night by the pool. No, it doesn’t mean dragging the flat screen out to the patio—keep it safe with these ideas on how to throw the perfect water-themed film fest.
Setting the scene
You first want to decide where to set up the hardware. The main components will be your “screen,” projector, and sound system. To create the former, WikiHow gives a few suggestions, from hanging a plain, white sheet or piece of vinyl on the side of your house to painting a large piece of wood. If you don’t own a projector or speakers, look into your local electronics rental store. The set-up doesn’t have to be elaborate—only functional—as the décor details will add to the party’s overall success.
If you already have a TV installed outdoors, you may be able to work with what you have depending on the size of your crowd. However, the television will likely necessitate an intimate patio setting rather than the pool, since a projector screen allows for more freedom to walk and swim without missing any action.
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The best pool party ideas are detail-oriented, from food and cocktails to lighting and decorations. Your theme will naturally depend upon your audience, so for a children’s party, consider playing The Little Mermaid and making a few DIY mermaid fins. For teenagers, pick a movie like Jaws or Pirates of the Caribbean and host a costume contest with a themed party bag as the prize. If you’re hosting an adults-only party, anything goes! Send e-vites with three movie choices (maybe a drama like Castaway or romantic action flick such as Six Days, Seven Nights) and let everyone decide.
Once you’ve chosen your movie and perhaps a few games to kick off the party, decide on seating and décor. The first priority should be your guests’ comfort. If your yard slopes dramatically, use it to your advantage and set up stadium-style folding chairs (just don’t forget throw pillows and blankets). For a cozier vibe, set up picnic blankets and bean bags or dust off the hammock you’ve had stored away in the garage. As for decorations, let your creativity shine. A Castaway viewing, for example, might be preceded by a game of pool volleyball with “Wilson.” Watching Pirates? Decorate the bar with twinkling lights, netting, anchors, and wooden barrels. Wash the labels off of liquor and wine bottles and draw skulls on them with metallic gold markers.
For kids’ movies with an ocean theme, consider Goldfish crackers or starfish-shaped sugar cookies. Host a potluck for family-friendly movies where everyone brings a dish or snack related to the film (seafood, anyone? Beach-inspired cupcakes?). Blue Gatorade makes for festive “ocean” punch—simply garnish with gummy worms as “shark bait” or gummy fish. For the adults, there are endless cocktail recipes on Pinterest. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple with a homemade Mai Tai and fresh ceviche. Movie nights aren’t complete without popcorn, so don’t forget the butter and salt! Bonus points if you create a popcorn bar where guests can pick from a variety of seasonings or mix-ins like M&Ms and pretzels.
Whatever your theme, guests are sure to be wowed for the simple fact that you turned a great pool party idea into a reality. How often do you get to watch movies outdoors while lounging poolside? It’s bound to be a blast. Just don’t be surprised if your guests start planning the next one before the night is through.
Originally posted 4/2016.