pool party_FotorThese hot summer months are the perfect time to throw a pool party, so read our tips, grab your towel and get ready – it’s gonna be sizzling!

Planning is best. Give yourself at least two weeks to prepare. If all factors – the food, the entertainment, the RSVPs – come together in advance, you will have a much better, fuss-free time. If you live in an apartment community, reserve the pool or cabana or get there early in the day to set up and stake out tables and chairs.

Send out notifications early. The sooner your guests RSVP, the sooner you can have a better idea of how much food to buy and how to organize the event. Evite has electronic pool party invitations – some are free and all are cheaper than sending physical mail. One thing to keep in mind when inviting guests is the pool capacity – keep invites under and the event will be more manageable.

Keep your guests safe. A pool party will be more enjoyable when the heat is tolerable. Schedule the party to take place after 2 p.m. (preferably after 4 p.m.) to keep your guests cool poolside. Guests will also appreciate if you have sunscreen and water readily available, and sun umbrellas will provide comfortable shelter (IKEA has good, relatively inexpensive options). And if you’re bringing more than 50 or so guests (or many are bringing their children), hiring a lifeguard is a factor to consider.

Empty stomach = no fun. Opt for light midday snacks or finger food (see My Recipes for ideas) – they are a good, all-around friendly option for pool parties. Of course, you can also go all-out and plan a BBQ. Even then, preparing as much food as possible in advance will keep you stress-free the day of. See our BBQ suggestions here and head on over to Allrecipes for delicious grilling ideas.

Keep guests entertained. What’s a good party without music? Visit iTunes or Spotify and make a playlist or, if within budget, consider hiring a DJ to spin some tunes – see Gig Masters to find DJs in your area.

Entertainment also extends to décor. Pick a theme – tropical, beachy or something more extravagant altogether – for an added element of fun.

And if you can’t host a party or don’t have a pool, keep your eye out for events going on in your area – check out events such as National Night Out or local community gatherings to socialize.