This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dr Pepper®. The opinions and text are all mine #PickYourPepper #Walmart
This summer I decided to switch things up a little bit, so we will be spending the entire month of July in the Hamptons. Ben and I worked very hard this year and we feel that we truly deserve this long break from the City, and we are planning on indulging in all sorts of outdoor activities, from biking and hiking to organizing pool parties! I was thinking that it would be interesting for you to learn some tips and tricks on how we usually organize such get-togethers. Today I collaborate with Dr Pepper to share my secrets to planning and throwing the perfect pool party!
Planning and Decor
While organizing a pool party should not take a long time, there are a few things that I constantly keep forgetting so I recommend on thinking about these ahead of time. There is nothing worse than stressing out about things that you forgot instead of enjoying your friends so let’s go over such issues ahead of time.
In the era of social media and technological advancement, such things as sending physical party invites seem excessive. There are some benefits of providing your guests with all the party info, though, as it will help you to avoid unstoppable text messages on the day of the party (when you are already too busy meal prepping). I recommend using free design services where you can create a cute invite listing the exact address, party hours, occasion, and dress code. That way, your guests could also plan ahead, especially if you are throwing a potluck kind of gathering, and have more time to plan their outfits (which is crucial for so many of us!). Send invites via email a few days before the party and you’ll be surprised how much time you will save on communicating the exact same messages for all your friends.
A successful party is impossible without music, but I’ll be honest saying that inspirational tunes are the last thing that I think of while planning a party. As it often happens, one of the guests will connect his phone to the speakers and play whatever songs he has which is not always an ideal party mix. Worst case scenario is when such guest puts on an internet radio station while not having a paid account so the rest of the party is forced to listen to commercials. Recently, I started using an app where you can create playlists of your favorite songs and follow various stations even if you have no access to Internet. Such approach really helps to make entertainment part of the pool party easier!
Plates & Napkins
While there is nothing wrong with using affordable paper plates and white napkins, I recently started paying more attention to these party supplies as they set a tone for the entire gathering. Call me Instagram-obsessed, but in my humble opinion, it’s one thing to photograph your delicious party meal on a boring white plate and a completely different one when you have a brightly colored plate and matching napkin to use in your shot. There is not much of a price difference between picking unique utensils too.
Another category that I always seem to forget is entertainment. While a nice conversation with friends combined with a food and drink option is usually enough for any kind of gathering, it’s nice to have something extra to offer. For instance, if the party takes place in the pool, make sure to have a paddle ball set or bubble wands ready. Granted: these fun activities will make every adult at your party feel like a child for a second! If your pool party is part of some sort of celebration (let’s say, a birthday party) make sure to pick up a cute piñata. Such item not only looks super cute in photos, but it’s also an amazing video opportunity for a birthday gal or dude to have video memories from the event.
Talking about photos, it’s helpful to dedicate a specific place at your party for photos. It doesn’t have to be something super expensive or creative, think about things that you already have at your disposal. The easiest photo background I could think of is a cute pool float that you can put near the wall while taking photos to frame and Boomerangs for your Instagram.
By the way, in case you are wondering where I got my cool pool float, it’s from Dr Pepper. The brand is currently running their new Pick Your Pepper campaign where you receive the same float with any $40 Dr Pepper purchase at Walmart until 8/15! This new campaign packaging is also fun and unique, so if you are planning a party anyways, why not pick your party drinks and get a free photo prop at the same time? There are other freebies available too: you can get this cute unicorn beverage holder inflatable when you spend $5, a $5 Walmart e-Gift Card when you spend $10, and six pack can/bottle holder with an ice pack when you spend $20. You can upload your Dr Pepper receipt and see all the prizes as well as terms and conditions here.
In my experience, the most memorable parties are those that have something unique to offer. In this particular case, a do-it-yourself project that looks amazing on photos and just brightens up any gathering. I learned this DIY idea from Molly and I couldn’t resist repeating it. Colorful pineapples are the easiest and coolest party idea out there which is suitable even for people that never tried working on any sort of handmade creations. All you need is a can of spray paint and pineapples. Yes, it’s that easy, but the final result looks so Insta-worthy!
Finally, the last super important thing that you need to keep in mind while planning a pool party is towels. While it might be easier to ask your guests to bring their own towels, it’s nice to have a few colorful options available. Bright towels bring a positive vibe to the entire party and look so cute in photos. I personally have been a sucker for fruit-shaped and food-shaped towels as they look so adorable. My recent addition to our beach towel collection is this sweet cupcake-shaped towel which almost screams, “Take a photo of me!”
Food & Drinks
While I’m somewhat obsessed with decorating, cooking and drink mixing is not my biggest talent. Being vegan and gluten-free, it’s hard for me to relate to what people want to eat at the party so I allow my boyfriend Ben to take over the cooking part. He will prepare some barbecue dishes and marinade some meats, while I concentrate on putting together quick and easy vegan appetizers that work great for both vegans and meat-eaters. Hey, even though I believe it’s one of my goals in life to convince that veganism is the best diet you could possibly follow, we do not discriminate and make sure to prepare all sorts of party food options that will work for people following various dietary restrictions.
Grilled Corn Salsa Plate
Since we have a grill, I love incorporating some grilled vegetable options into our party menu. Perhaps, the easiest thing is to grill a few corn cobs and serve homemade salsa with corn chips. This recipe is so easy that it will literally take a few minutes, but the party crowd would definitely enjoy this summery crunchy snack.
Ingredients: five corn on the cobs, one green pepper, two teaspoons of olive oil, half small red onion, one avocado, and the juice of one lime.
Directions: Grill corn cobs, onion, and pepper until browned; let cool for a few minutes. Remove the corn from the cob and transfer into a serving bowl. Add small pieces of grilled onion and green pepper into the mix. Finely cut avocado and mix into the dish. Add olive oil and lime juice and mix all of the ingredients together. Serve with tortilla chips.
If you are not feeling like cooking at all, try decorating some pre-made dishes like hummus and guacamole. Use your creativity and veggies on hand to add just a bit of personality to your classical party dips. My favorite items that I use to decorate hummus and guacamole plates are cherry tomatoes, radishes, beans, carrots, and limes — but you can let your creativity shine while working on this tasty and good-looking project. I also recommend checking out this Pinterest board where I pinned some of the prettiest hummus plate styling options.
Sweet Vegan Popcorn
I don’t know about you, but in my book a party without desserts is not really a party. Picking the right dessert is one of the most difficult tasks as so many people have dietary restrictions that do not work well with pastry and cakes. No worries though, I have a fun, easy to prepare, and super yum solution for you! Why not cook… Dr Pepper infused popcorn? Such recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan, so it will work for people that follow different dietary restrictions. All you have to do to recreate this recipe is boil two cups of Dr Pepper until reduced to ¼ cup, and pour it on top of freshly popped popcorn. Serve warm or cold in individual paper cups!
Finally, it’s important for any party to have a refreshing drink option. What we often do is serve finely chopped ice so our guests can mix some of their favorite juices or soft drinks. For this particular party that you see in these photos, we served a few different options of Dr Pepper drinks and our guests truly enjoyed these refreshing and yummy slushies.
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These were my pool party planning tips. I hope you found some inspiration and new ideas on how to plan your next outdoor gathering. Please let me know in the comments which of these tips were most helpful for you. Also please feel free to share your party planning tips and tricks!