The Ultimate Pool Party

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Beat the summer heat—and enjoy your family and friends—by hosting a pool party they'll remember for years to come.

Organize fun water activities. Have fun pool toys—floats, diving sticks, and beach balls—in a bin next to the pool. Then encourage everyone to join in a pool game such as Marco Polo, or a contest to see who can make the biggest splash. (To get a head start, check out our expert cannonball tips.)

Nothing says summer like a laid-back pool party with family and friends. To make yours go off without a hitch, check out our planning tips, easy recipes, decorating ideas, and more.

Get organized early. Start planning larger affairs one month to two weeks ahead. With our printable checklist, you can check off tasks as you complete them and stay organized.

Upgrade your space. If you want to make enhancements to your pool area, start early. For our top remodeling tips, see below.

Keep your guests from getting burned. Have plenty of waterproof sunscreen on hand for your guests to help combat sunburn. Also, ensure that you have shady spots on your pool deck or room indoors where people can take a break from the hot sunshine.

Set the scene. Strapped for time? See these simple ideas for transforming your pool area into a gorgeous party setting -- in minutes.

Plan a delicious menu. Keep everyone cool with fresh, simple recipes that are proven crowd pleasers. These ideas (below) will get you in and out of the kitchen in no time.

Don't forget dessert. Everyone loves a sweet treat. For our best summer recipes, see below.

Make it a potluck. Keep things simple by organizing a potluck. Make a main course and ask each guest to bring their favorite side dish or dessert.

Serve cool drinks. Our fresh lemonade mix-ins, like Key Lime Lemonade (shown here), are a no-fuss, festive treat.

Keep everyone safe. Make sure everyone stays safe with these easy-to-follow guidelines from the American Red Cross.

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