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Outdoor Halloween Party - Ideas for Decor, Food, and Games

Wicked-Cool Ideas for an Outdoor Halloween Party

Outdoor Halloween Party

Don’t be afraid to host a Halloween party outside. A dark and chilly fall night provides the perfect eerie ambiance for a bewitching Halloween bash. Holding your party outdoors also gives you an array of options for festive decorations and games that would be difficult or impractical indoors. Create a hair-raising Halloween party with these ideas for décor, food, and games.

Halloween Party Décor
Outdoor Halloween Party Decor
Turn your outdoor living space from homey to haunted with these frightfully festive Halloween decorating ideas.

Send a chill down guests’ spines as they enter your backyard by playing scary background music and using a fog machine to create a creepy, graveyard-like atmosphere. Switch out your porch and landscape lights with black light bulbs to enhance the eeriness.

Make spooky silhouettes by drawing the outlines of ghosts and other sinister figures on pieces of plywood, then cutting out the shapes and painting them black. Prop the shadowy figures up against a tree, the fence, or the back of the house.

Photo courtesy of Party City

Drape fake cob webs or torn cheesecloth from tree branches, along the fence or deck, and from the beams of a pergola or gazebo to give the yard an abandoned and mysterious look.

Make party guests feel like they’re being watched by a scary beast lurking in the bushes with this idea for glaring monster eyes:
- Get a toilet paper or paper towel roll (if using a paper towel roll, cut it in half).
- Draw or trace a pair of devilish eyes on the roll (use the pattern below as a guide) and cut out the shape.
- Color the toilet paper roll black with marker or craft paint and use electrical tape to close one end of the roll.
- Grab a green, yellow or red glow stick, bend it to activate the light, and place it in the toilet paper roll through the open end; close the end with another piece of electrical tape.
- Stuff the glaring beast eyes in a bush or place them in the bark ridge of a tree.

Glaring Monster Eyes Pattern

Glaring Monster Eyes Pattern for Halloween Craft

Halloween Party Food

Halloween Party Food and RecipesScare up an appetite with a scream-worthy spread of gruesome grub and tricked-out treats. From “finger” foods to spooky sweets, here are some ghoulishly good Halloween recipes to serve.

Deviled Eyes – Prepare deviled eggs with avocado to give them a ghoulishly green hue. Top each egg “eyeball” with a sliced green or black olive to create a pupil. Add veins by arranging a few thinly sliced roasted red pepper strips around the olive.

Photo courtesy of Amy’s Party Ideas

Halloween Chex Mix RecipeHalloween Chex Mix – Set out this wicked-good mix of candy corn, pretzels, raisins, and white chocolate...and watch it disappear! Get this recipe & other festive Halloween desserts >>

Mummy Dogs – Preheat oven to 400° F. Open and unroll a can of refrigerated breadstick dough; separate at perforations. Cut each breadstick in half using a knife or pizza cutter to make two thinner strips of dough. Take two thin dough strips, one at a time, and wrap lengthwise around a hot dog. Leave a small space open around the top of the hot dog for the Mummy’s Face. Continue wrapping all the hot dogs and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Spray the Mummy dogs with cooking spray and place in the oven. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until dough is light golden brown. Let cool for five minutes. Pipe eyes on the mummies using mustard or ketchup.

Apple Monster Mouths for Halloween PartyMonster Mouths - Core an apple and slice it into quarters. Cut a wedge from the skin side of each apple quarter to form a mouth. Place slivered almonds into the top and bottom of the apple for teeth. 

Fried Fingers – Use a bit of marinara sauce to attach sliced blanched almonds to tops of mozzarella sticks to make them look like severed fingers.

Photo courtesy of Amy’s Party Ideas

Trick or Treat Halloween Candy Buffet Trick-or-Treat Candy Buffet – You can't have a Halloween party without candy! Fill plastic cauldrons with different types of Halloween candy for guests to take home in goodie bags.

RIP Graveyard Cake – Layer chocolate pudding and crushed chocolate cookie crumbs in a large cake pan. Write “RIP” on oval or square sandwich cookies to make them look like tombstones and stick them in the cake. Top the cake with gummy worms to up the gross factor.

Bewitching Brew – Transform punch into a boiling witch’s brew or poisonous potion with dry ice. Place a few blocks of dry ice inside a large punch bowl. In a smaller punch bowl, prepare your favorite punch recipe. Carefully place the punch-filled bowl inside the larger bowl with dry ice. The fog from the dry ice will escape from the bottom bowl, creating a spooky vapor. IMPORTANT: Always handle dry ice with tongs or heavy rubber gloves to avoid freezer burn or frostbite on your skin. Keep the dry ice in a well-ventilated area and be sure not to breathe in too much of the gas.

Photo courtesy of Party City

Halloween Party Games and Activities

Here are a variety of ghostly games to make your outdoor Halloween party more terrifyingly fun and exciting.

Pin the Face on the Jack-O-Lantern – Give this childhood favorite a Halloween twist. Have each player cut out eyes, a nose, and mouth from black construction paper and stick a piece of double-sided tape on the back of each cutout. Get a large pumpkin and place it on a table. One at a time, each player stands with their cutouts about four feet away from the table with a blindfold on. After spinning around in a circle four times, the player walks toward the pumpkin and tries to pin the face on the pumpkin. Take a picture after each turn to see who pinned the best face.

Skeleton Scavenger Hunt for HalloweenSkeleton Scavenger Hunt – Purchase a plastic skeleton with detachable bones, separate it, and scatter the bones around the yard. Have guests search the yard to gather the bones and try to put the skeleton back together.

Guess the Body Part – For this classic Halloween game, gather an assortment of boxes with lids and cut a hole in each lid so that guests can fit their hand through it. Prepare food items for “body parts” and place them inside the boxes for guests to guess what they are. For example, Witch’s Eyeballs (peeled grapes); Dracula’s Teeth or Warewolf Fangs (candy corn); Frankenstein’s Ears (dried apricots); Dead Man’s Heart (large peeled tomato); Human Brain (cooked head of cauliflower).

Photo courtesy of Party City

Ghost Stories – This is a must for any Halloween party! Gather everybody around the graveyard and take turns telling spooky tales of the undead.

Trick or Treat Card Game – Create a deck of cards from orange card stock. On each card, write “Trick” or “Treat” on one side of the card. For each “Trick” card include an act to perform, such as Tell a Scary Story, Act Out a Scene from Your Favorite Halloween Movie, and Perform Your Best Evil Laugh. To play, have guests sit around a table and place a bowl of candy in the middle. Shuffle the deck of cards and fan them out around the candy bowl. One at time, go around the table and have each player draw a card. If they pull a “Treat” card, they get to select a piece of candy from the bowl. If they pull a “Trick” card, they must do what’s on the card in order to get a piece of candy.

Fun Ideas for a Fall Barbecue - Fall Party Themes and Ideas

Fall Outdoor Party Themes and Ideas

Summer may have ended, but the fall season offers just as many opportunities to entertain outdoors. With cooler temperatures, gorgeous foliage, delicious crops, and fun festivities, autumn is the perfect time to invite friends and family over for a backyard barbecue or bash. Here are three fall party ideas to keep guests entertained all season long.

Fall Harvest Party

Celebrate all of the wonderful things the fall season has to offer by throwing an outdoor harvest party. Invite friends and family to bring their best autumn-inspired dishes or consider having a harvest swap! Prepare for the crisp weather and shorter days by adding a fire pit and outdoor lighting to your patio or deck.

Harvest Party Décor

Decorate Your Yard for a Fall PartyWith all the natural colors and bounty of the season, it’s easy to decorate your yard for fall. Create a rustic harvest setting with these easy décor ideas:

Welcome guests and set the stage for your party with a festive display that illustrates all of autumn's natural splendor. Dress up a pergola or arbor with fall leaf garland, mums, and a couple scarecrows.

For a harvest-themed tablescape, purchase a piece of velvet or burlap from your local craft store and use as a table cover or table runner. Arrange a mix of gourds and potted mums down the middle of the table for a simple and festive centerpiece. You can also paint letters on the pumpkins or flower pots to spell out “HAPPY FALL” or “HARVEST.”

Photo courtesy of Frog Prince Paperie

Decorate your yard for a fall party with seasonal touches like pumpkins and mums
Decorate the rest of the outdoor space with seasonal touches. Pile pumpkins and mums around trees; place bales of hay around the patio (cover the hay bales with a blanket or fabric so guests can use them as seats); bundle dried cornstalks together and tie them to the posts of a pergola or gazebo.

For evening gatherings, add charming candleholders to the tablescape by cutting the tops off of small gourds or apples, then carving out circular pockets and placing tea lights inside. Drape throw blankets or afgans in fall hues or motifs (think plaid, leaves, owls, pumpkins, etc.) over chairs; guests can use them to keep warm at night. 

Photo courtesy of Worthing Court,

To add more festive flair, make a garland of Indian corn to hang along the fence or deck: Plot dried ears of corn* (with the husks attached and pulled back) about 6 to 8 inches apart on a piece of twine or raffia. Once in place, use pieces of twine or floral wire to attach the ears of corn to the twine, tying it around each piece where the husk meets the cob. (*Dried ears of corn can be found at your local farmer’s market or grocery store. You can also dry fresh ears of corn by placing them in a mesh bag and hanging them outside or in an area with low moisture and humidity. Corn will dry in approximately three weeks.)

Harvest Party Food

From apples to pumpkins, the fall harvest offers a bountiful buffet of sweet and savory flavors. Create a party menu that embodies the season with these autumn-inspired foods and recipes.

Food for a Fall Harvest PartyCrudités - Visit your local farmer’s market and buy an array of seasonal fruits and vegetables. They not only make for an easy appetizer but add tons of fall color to your buffet table.

Editor's Tip: Dress up your buffet with mini pumpkins, leaves, acorns and pinecones. Include decorative food labels so guests can easily identify dishes (check out Frog Prince Paperie for printable party supplies).

Photo courtesy of Frog Prince Paperie

Harvest Chicken Salad – Give regular chicken salad an autumn makeover my adding chopped apples, pecans, celery, and pomegranate seeds (arils) to the mix. Serve with whole grain baguette slices or crackers.

Apricot-Dijon Pork SaladApricot-Dijon Pork Salad – This is a perfect transitional dish between summer and fall. Summer apricots and tart cherries add beautiful fall color and natural sweetness to the salad, while the Dijon mustard and ginger dressing lend a warm and spicy flavor. Get the recipe >>

Fall Ratatouille – No harvest party would be complete without this quintessential fall vegetable dish. This recipe features a medley of late-summer/early fall vegetables, cheese, and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. Get the full recipe >>

Caramel Apples – Combine food and fun by setting up a caramel apple-dipping station: Display skewered apples on a bale of hay for easy picking. Use a disposable chafing dish to keep the caramel warm and ready for dipping. Set up a line of plastic bowls (with spoons) at the end of the table and fill with yummy toppings like chopped nuts, chocolate chips, candy bar pieces, graham cracker crumbs, sprinkles, and crushed cookies.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Pork Board

Apple Cider – Serve this delectable fall drink in a pumpkin punch bowl: Hollow out a large pumpkin, removing all the seeds and scraping out the pulp from the sides. Pour in apple cider and garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks. Use mason jars for drinking glasses to add a rustic touch!

Harvest Party Games and Activities

Complete your harvest party with a host of festive fall games that feature the bounty of the season.

Harvest Party Games and ActvitiesCorn shucking contest – Divide ears of corn evenly among guests and see who can finish shucking their pile the fastest. Award the winner with a homemade treat, such as apple cranberry granola bars or a loaf of pumpkin cornbread. After the game, throw all the shucked ears of corn on the grill for a tasty treat.

Bobbing for Apples – You can also go for a twist on this classic game. Hang apples from tree branches by tying a string around the stems. Guests then have to try and bite the apple without using their hands. The first one to eat their apple wins.

Pumpkin bowling – Use a pumpkin as a bowling ball (pick one that’s not too heavy or too big) and use soda bottles as pins (fill them with some sand to weigh them down).

Pumpkin Bocce – Use a medium-sized pumpkin as the pallino and small gourds for the bocce balls. Very the type or color of the gourds among the different teams to keep accurate score. 

Photo courtesy of Frog Prince Paperie

Backyard Tailgate Party - Fun Ideas for a Fall Barbecue

Fall Outdoor Party Themes: Backyard Tailgate Party

Backyard Tailgate Party

Fall and football go hand in hand—and with it comes tailgating! Instead of heading to the game or stadium parking lot, give yourself the home-field advantage with a backyard tailgating party. Put on your best game day gear, fire up the grill, and invite fellow fans (and non-fans) over to enjoy a pleasant fall day of fun, football, and food.

Tailgate Party Décor

Whether you root for your alma mater or local NFL team, here are some ideas for creating a fun football atmosphere everyone will cheer for.

Ideas for a Fall Backyard Tailgate PartyCreate an authentic tailgating ambiance by decorating your truck or car with your team’s insignia and parking it on the back lawn. Add a pop-up canopy and portable chairs to complete the tailgating vibe.

Show your team spirit by hanging pennants, banners, and streamers that display your team’s colors and/or logo.

Photo courtesy of Amy’s Party Ideas

Football Paper Lanterns for Tailgate PartyFootball paper lanterns (pictured at left) and tissue paper pom-poms are another fun decoration: hang them at varying lengths from tree branches or pergola beams.

Put a football twist on seasonal items to liven up your décor:
- Use mums to display your team’s colors
- Carve pumpkins to look like football helmets and paint your team’s logo on them
- Transform a tall oval pumpkin into a football by painting the entire pumpkin pigskin brown and adding white laces down the center
- Make a scarecrow that resembles your favorite player, your team’s coach or mascot

Photo courtesy of Party City

AstroTurf Buffet Table for a Tailgate PartyFor a festive food display, turn your buffet table into a football field with this fun AstroTurf table runner idea from Uncommon Designs. Artificial turf can be purchased at your local home store, or you can use dark green felt as an alternative. To complete the look, use white athletic tape to add yard lines.

Include yourself (and your guests) in the décor by sporting festive football apparel, jewelry, and accessories like party beads, wigs, and foam fingers.

Photo courtesy of Uncommon Designs

Since the game is the main attraction, tune in to the pregame show while you pregame with an outdoor TV. Make sure the TV is positioned where everyone can view it. You can also rent or buy an inflatable outdoor screen if you’ll be entertaining a large crowd—or just want to really impress your guests!

Tailgate Party Food

A simple, self-serve menu of finger foods, hearty sandwiches, and quick-cooking fare will keep fellow football fans fueled from kickoff to the final touchdown—and prevent you from getting sidelined to the grill or outdoor kitchen. Tackle any appetite with these tasty tailgating food ideas and recipes.

Roasted Red Pepper, Ham and Parsley Torte – This delicious appetizer is perfect for a crowd, easy to make, and can be prepared a day ahead.

Football Themed Deviled EggsDeviled Eggs – Turn this classic finger food into football-shaped food by topping with pieces of chives in the pattern of football laces.

Grilled Sweet Potato Salad – This recipe is a delicious fall alternative to traditional potato salad and will pair well with any type of game day grub. Get the recipe >>

Sub or Sandwich Tray – Subs are filling, tasty, and easy to make. Wrap individual subs or sandwiches in napkins so guests can grab both and get back to watching the game.

Photo courtesy of Party City

Burger Bar for a Tailgate Football PartyBurger Bar – Burgers are a tailgating staple and easy crowd pleaser. Set up a build your own burger bar with an assortment of condiments and toppings to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Take a tip from The Frog Prince Paperie’ s Touchdown Slider Bar and include labels so guests know exactly what they are trying—and don’t confuse the pickled peppers with the hot peppers!

Beer-Grilled Chops – You’ll score major points with these juicy and tender pork chops. Get the recipe >>

Photo courtesy of Frog Prince Paperie

  Find more crowd-pleasing football party recipes >>

Tailgate Party Games and Activities

Keep guests entertained before kickoff with a variety of tailgating games and football activities.

Quarterback Toss – Hang a 30”, a 36,” and a 40” hula hoop from a tree and write a point value on each one (the smaller the hoop, the higher the point value). Let each player have three turns at tossing a football through the hoops. The player with the highest amount of points wins.

Football Face Painting for Tailgate PartyFootball Fan Face Painting – Fans young and old will have fun putting on their game face. Make sure you have paint colors to represent each guest’s favorite team. Along with face paint, provide an assortment of football themed stickers, temporary tattoos, and colored hair spray–and see who gets the most creative!

Touchdown Bean Bag Toss – Form a small football field on the patio or lawn with masking tape. Divide players into two teams and have them take turns tossing bean bags onto the other team’s side of the field. Keep score for each team by tallying the yardage points where the bags land (touchdowns count as 0 points). The team with the lowest yardage points wins.

Photo courtesy of Party City

Football Bingo – Create Bingo cards with football terms and phrases (such as “touchdown,” “false start,” “field goal,” and “interception”) and have guests try to fill out their cards as they watch the game.

Take our survey to get a FREE download of Award-Winning Pools book for iPadFree e-book! See over 75 amazing pool photos in our Award-Winning Pools book. Take our quick survey to download Award-Winning Pools FREE for iPad >>

4 Cool Pool Accessories and Floats

Fun Pool Floats and Accessories for Summer Outdoor Entertaining

Drink Dazzlers™ Light Up Coasters

Drink Dazzlers™ Light-up CoastersDrinkware that doubles as décor? Believe it! Place your cup on top of one of these light-up coasters and watch it glow. Party guests will have no problem finding their drink at night. The Drink Dazzlers™ Light Up Coasters bring a fun element to your patio table during summer pool parties and barbecues.

The light-up coasters also work with clear flower vases and bowls; use them to create a light-up centerpiece for a backyard graduation party or other summertime celebration. (Sold as set of four coasters; glasses not included.)

Try these 4 Refreshing Summer Drink Recipes >>

Mega Chill Pool Cooler Float

Mega Chill Pool Cooler FloatWith all the fun and activity going on in the pool you’re sure to need some refreshments. Quench your thirst while you keep the pool fun going with the Mega Chill Pool Cooler Float.

This large floating cooler features six cup holders around the perimeter of the cooler and two side handles for easy carrying. The large cooler in the center can hold up to 24 soda cans with ice. You’ll be sure to use this convenient float all summer long, whether entertaining family and friends or just lounging in the pool.

LED Light-up Pool Stool

LED Light-up Pool Bar StoolsGive your party guests a cool place to sit. These remote-controlled LED light-up pool stools provide a comfortable seat and illuminate your pool for the perfect party ambiance. The resin barstools are easy to move around the pool and can be used in any aboveground or inground swimming pool with a depth of 3 or 4 feet. (The stool’s seat height is adjustable from 24 to 33 inches.)

Set the mode on the stool’s internal LED light unit to auto for a multicolor display or use the remote control to pause the light on a certain color. The LED’s rechargeable battery lasts 12 hours per charge.

Keep the entertainment in the pool with these waterproof music players and speakers >>

Watermelon Slice Pool Island Float

Watermelon Slice Pool Island FloatWith its bright red center, black seeds, and yellow and green rind, this watermelon slice pool float is ripe for the...lounging! Everyone will want to feast on this large fruit-inspired pool float, which measures 60 inches in diameter.

Any way you slice it, this heavy-duty vinyl float is sure to entertain kids and adults alike. Add a few eye-catching slices to your pool to get the party juices flowing.

Add more fun to your pool party with some floating pool games >>

Photos courtesy of Toysplash.com

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5 Fun Pool Games

Fun Swimming Pool Games for Kids and Adults Alike

By Kimberlee Courtney

Turn your swimming pool into the ultimate summer entertainment center with these fun pool games. Great for pool parties or any summer day, these floating pool games are sure to entertain kids of all ages.

Inflatable Volleyball Game

Inflatable Volleyball Pool GameKeep cool while you bump, set, and spike your way to victory! This inflatable pool volleyball game is great for inground and aboveground pools and requires no installation or assembly; just inflate and play. The floating net makes for a fun challenge (and great workout!). If desired, anchor weights (not included) can be attached to the grommeted pole bases on the floating net.

The inflatable pool volleyball game measures 95 inches by 24 inches and includes game ball, net, and posts. May the best team win!

Ball Dartz

Ball Dartz Inflatable Pool GameThis pool-friendly version of darts features an inflatable Velcro-covered dartboard and six plastic ball darts with Velcro strips. Perfect your aim by launching the ball darts at the floating target or play a fun game with family or friends.

The Ball Dartz Pool Game can be used in aboveground and inground pools and measures 55 inches long, 23 inches wide and 39 inches high.

Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe Floating Pool GameThe classic pencil-and-paper game of Tic Tac Toe gets a wet and wild makeover. The inflatable Tic Tac Toe Ball Toss Pool Game features a floating game board and five “X” and five “O” squishy balls. The balls are bottom weighted so they always rotate face up to display the X or O. You’ll have tons of fun playing this favorite childhood game in your pool. Plus, the game becomes more challenging as you not only have to try to get three of your balls in a row, but have to toss the balls onto the floating game board while standing at the opposite end of the pool.

  4 Free Pool Games (all you need is a pool and a few fun-loving swimmers!) >>

Splashimals Floating Pool Cards Game

Splashimals Floating Pool CardsSchool may be out for summer, but you can keep the learning going with this fun Splashimals floating card game. Each foam card features half the picture and name of an animal and helps your child practice spelling and animal recognition as they match the animal heads and tails in the deck. For a creative and fun challenge, have them mix animals up to create new animals or words, like Tur-key (half Turtle, half Monkey) or Ca-sh (half Camel, half Fish). There are more than 225 possible animal card combinations.

You can also play a fun game of memory by placing the cards face down in the water. Flip the first card over and then try to find the matching card, flipping only one card over at a time and placing it back in the water face down if it’s not a match. You’ll have to remember where the matching cards are and also keep track of them as they float around in the pool. The foam cards dry easily and come with a mesh bag for storage.

Don’t have a pool? Check out these other fun summer activities for kids >>

Alien Eye Ball Toss Game

Alien Eye Ball Toss Pool GameWhether they’re in or out of the pool, everyone can take part in this fun inflatable alien eyeball toss game. What’s more, you can play this game any way you want. For instance, each player can take a turn tossing the five squishy eye balls onto the floating alien head from a designated distance (maybe 3 to 5 feet). Keep score by tallying the points for each player; the player with the highest score wins.

You can also play multiple rounds by eliminating the player with the lowest score after each round until two players remain. Have the last two players toss only one ball; the player whose ball lands in the higher score zone wins.

If playing with two to five people, give each player one eye ball and establish a winning point total, such as 1,000 points. The first player takes his turn tossing his eye ball onto the alien head and records his/her points. The player then retrieves his/her ball before the next player takes his/her turn. Players continue taking turns until the first person reaches the winning point total.

This versatile pool game can also be played on the lawn or beach. The floating alien face is made of 12 gauge vinyl and measures 38 inches. Five squishy eye balls are included with the game.

Photos courtesy of Toysplash.com

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4 Pool Party Ideas: Party Themes, Décor, and Games

4 Summer Party Themes

By Kimberlee Courtney

There’s no better way to celebrate summer and beat the heat than with a pool party—and no party is complete without a great theme. From the decorations to the food to the games, here are four summer party themes to help you create a fun and festive setting.

Summer Luau Party Decor

Luau Party

Transform your backyard and swimming pool into a tropical paradise with a Luau party theme. You can easily find an assortment of luau-themed décor and accessories at your local craft or party supply store.

Here are some fun ideas for Luau party decorations, food, and games.

Luau Party Decorations

Luau Party Theme Decorations

Raffia or grass table skirts – adorn patio tables or a buffet table with raffia or grass table skirts to give an authentic island vibe

Tiki torches – line up tiki torches along the entrance to the backyard or around the swimming pool

Leis – hang assorted colors from tree branches or drape across the backs of patio chairs

Inflatable palm tree cooler – for an attractive way to keep drinks cool. A variety of designs and sizes are available and can hold anywhere from 24 to 60 12-ounce cans (plus ice)

Tiki totems – scatter these fun faces around the yard

Fresh coconuts and/or pineapples – arrange on patio tables for inexpensive (and edible) centerpieces

Floral garland –  use as a border around the swimming pool, drape across tree branches, or attach to patio umbrellas

Printed beach towels – hang beach towels with a sunset, ocean, or island print on a clothesline or along the backyard fence to create festive backdrops for photos

Luau Party Food

Hawaiian Luau Party Tableware

Hawaiian fruit punch – in a large punch bowl filled with ice, mix your favorite juices (e.g. pineapple, orange, grapefruit, cranberry, etc.) with lemon-lime soda or ginger ale; garnish with orange, pineapple and lemon slices

Tropical fruit salad – cut mango, pineapple, and papaya into cubes; combine with mandarin orange wedges, kiwi slices, and flaked sweetened coconut; drizzle with honey and lime juice

Island chicken kabobs – arrange chunks of teriyaki-marinated chicken breast, pineapple, and bell pepper on wooden skewers. Grill 15 – 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until chicken juices run clear. Serve over white or brown rice

Hawaiian pizza (ham & pineapple) – make your own or order from your favorite pizza place—we won’t tell!

Luau Party Games & Activities


Pineapple Bowling

Hula Dance-off – separate pool party guests into teams of three or four and see which team can come up with the most creative hula dance

Hula Hoop Contest – have two or three people (or more, depending on how many hula hoops you have) hula hoop until there is only one person left hula hooping. The person left standing then hula hoops against the next group of people. Continue the cycle to see who ends up the hula-hooping champion.

Luau Party Limbo Game Pineapple Bowling Game Luau Hula Dance

Photos courtesy of Party City, PartyCity.com

Fiesta Party Decorations
Photo courtesy of Party City, PartyCity.com

Fiesta Party

The bright colors, zesty fare, and festive tone of a Mexican Fiesta make it a great party theme for summer. Take your pool party amigos south of the border with these fiesta-themed decorations, food, and games.

Fiesta Party Decorations

Paper fans & streamers – choose bright summer colors like orange, red, pink, yellow, and lime green

Party lights – use multicolored string lights or fun options like chili pepper string lights or mini margarita lights

Mexican blanket – use as a table cover or backdrop for photos

Stick flags – place miniature Mexican or multicolored stick flags in the ground along the perimeter of the pool

Mini cactus candles – these will help establish a southwest theme and can serve as both table décor and party favors

Fiesta tableware – decorate tables with plastic Margarita  glasses, fresh limes,  colorful vases, and Mexican-themed paper flowers and napkins

Fiesta Tableware  Party City Fiesta Paper Fans

Above: Photo courtesy of Chris Nease, Celebrations at Home
Right: Photo courtesy of Party City, PartyCity.com

Fiesta Party Food

Tortilla chips and salsa – for an authentic touch, try this delicious recipe for Black Bean Salsa  (pictured below)

Tacos – set up a taco station and let guests pick their favorite fillings and toppings like ground beef, shredded chicken or pork, Cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, lettuce, salsa, tomatoes, jalapeños, sour cream and guacamole

7-layer dip – layer refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheddar cheese, sliced black olives, and lettuce; serve with corn or tortilla chips

Mexican grilled corn – top grilled corn on the cob with a mixture of mayonnaise, lime juice, chili powder and Cotija cheese (or Parmesan)

Chips and dip trio – fill tired serving baskets with tortilla chips and an assortment of dips, including salsa, guacamole, and corn relish

Mexican Fiesta Party Food Black Bean Salsa Recipe

Above: Photo courtesy of Chris Nease, Celebrations at Home
Right: Photo courtesy of Tanya Staab

Fiesta Party Games & Activities

Pass the Sombrero – like “Hot Potato,” but with a fiesta twist: Instead of a potato, have players pass around a sombrero. Each player has to put the sombrero on their head before passing it to the next person.  The person wearing or holding the sombrero when the music stops playing is eliminated. Continue eliminating players until two people remain. The player without the sombrero when the music stops is the winner.

Inflatable Cactus Ring Toss 

Pin the Tail on the Donkey

Piñata – choose from a variety of fiesta-themed shapes, like a sombrero, chili pepper, donkey, or cactus

Mariachi Musical Floats – for this take on “Musical Chairs,” you’ll need to have one less float/inner tube in the pool than there are people. Have everyone swim around the pool as you play a CD with mariachi music; when you stop the music, everyone has to swim to the nearest float and jump on; the person without a float is eliminated and one float is removed from the pool. Continue playing, removing a float each time a person is eliminated. The person to sit on the last float is the winner.

Dress-up Relay Race:
     You’ll need these items for each team: 
        Fake mustache (look for versions that attach with an elastic band, not adhesive)

     How to play:
       1. Divide party guests into two or more teams (the number of teams will depend on how many sets of items you have)
       2. Pile each team’s set of items at the opposite end of pool
       3. When someone says “Go,” the first member of each team swims to the other side of the pool and puts on their team’s group of items
       4. The player then swims back to the other side of the pool, takes off the items, and passes them on to the next team member.
       5. That team member puts on the items, swims to the other side of the pool, takes off the gear, and swims back to the other side of the pool to tag the next player.
       6. The cycle continues until the last player returns back to the team. The first team to finish wins.

Sombrero Pinata  Fiesta Party Game

Above: Photo courtesy of Party City, PartyCity.com
Right: Photo courtesy of Chris Nease, Celebrations at Home

Under the Sea Party

A backyard swimming pool is the perfect venue for an Under the Sea party theme. Create an enchanting underwater adventure with these seaworthy ideas.

Under the Sea Party Decorations

Tropical fish floats

Bubbles – rent or buy a bubble machine to create the illusion of underwater bubbles

Fish netting – drape decorative fish netting (available at craft and party supply stores) over your backyard fence or use it as table covers

Streamers or crepe paper – use a combination of deep blue, turquoise, and green streamers or crepe paper to simulate water motion and seaweed. Attach varying lengths along the backyard fence, to the backs of patio chairs, and along the edges of patio umbrellas.

Seashells – scatter an assortment of shells on top of patio tables or place in small sand buckets

Coral reef wall decor – these lightweight, vinyl sheets (for indoor/outdoor use) can be attached to your fence with Sticky tack or double-sided tape to create an underwater scene

Under the Sea Scene Setter   Tropical Fish Floats
Photos courtesy of Party City, PartyCity.com

Under the Sea Party Food

Tuna “fish” sandwiches – cut tuna fish sandwiches into fish shapes with a cookie cutter. (You can also make peanut butter and jelly-fish sandwiches.)

Shrimp cocktail

Miniature crab cakes

Goldfish crackers

Sea life cups  – make these delightful under-the-sea treats pictured below with blue gelatin dessert mix, whipped topping, crushed graham crackers, and molded chocolates

Salt water taffy

Octopus hot dogs – slice hot dogs in half lengthwise, leaving about two inches connected at the end for the head. Turn the hot dog and slice each half again, creating four “legs.” Cut each of the four legs in half again.

Crab dip

Sand dollar sugar cookies – sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar to look like sand

Gummy fish candy cups (pictured below) – place gummy fish in plastic cups with blue candy-coated chocolates to look like they’re swimming in the ocean

Under the Sea Jell-O Cups Gummy Fish and Candy Cups
Photos courtesy of Tonya Staab

Check out these additional Seafood Recipes for Your Poolside Affair.

Under the Sea Party Games & Activities

Shark Bite
   How to play:
    1. Have everyone get in the pool
    2. Choose one person to be the “shark.” When you say "Go," the person who is the shark has to swim around the pool and try to catch one of the other guests.
    3. The person that gets caught (or bit) becomes the shark for the next round

Sand art station

Crab races

Buried Treasure Race
    How to play:
    1. Pick one person to be the leader and divide the rest of the party guests into two teams. Each team stands at opposite ends of the pool.
    2. The leader goes to the middle of the pool and tosses in an assortment of diving toys, such as lobsters, starfish, turtles, and dolphins. When the leader calls out “Go,” the first member of each team swims to the center of the pool, collects as many items as they can, and returns to their team.
    3. The leader tallies the number of items each player collected for their team and then tosses the items back into the center of the pool for the next two players.
    4. After all the players from each team have taken a turn, the leader adds up the results from each round to see the total number of items each team collected. The team with the higher number wins.

Inflatable starfish ring toss
Inflatable Starfish Ring Toss

Photo courtesy of Party City, PartyCity.com

Patriotic Party

Patriotic Party Theme DecorationsCelebrate the summer holidays, show your support for Team USA in the Olympic Games, or host an all-American backyard barbecue with these patriotic ideas.

Patriotic Party Decorations

Red, white and blue paper fans or lanterns

Miniature American flags – use as both décor and party favors

Patriotic pinwheels – place large ones in the ground around the swimming pool or arrange a few miniature pinwheels inside blue or red sand buckets for a festive centerpiece

Stars and stripes pennant banners – drape across tree branches or the backs of chairs

American flag bunting – hang along the fence or deck rails

Red, white, and blue table confetti

Solar powered floating pool lights – a few red, white, and blue spheres will add a festive ambiance at night

Red, blue, or American flag bandanas – use as placemats or napkins

Photo courtesy of Party City, PartyCity.com

Patriotic Party Food

American flag fruit kabobs (bottom left)

Snow cones – let guests add their favorite syrup flavor(s): blue raspberry (blue), strawberry (red), or piña colada (white)

Maple-Mustard Country-Style Spareribs

Patriotic parfaits
(bottom right) – layer blueberries, raspberries or strawberries, vanilla-flavored yogurt, whipped topping, granola, and flaked coconut

Individual caramel popcorn snack boxes - these can also be displayed as part of the décor!

Hot dogs and hamburgers – set up a buffet table with all the fixings

Grilled corn on the cob

Barbecue chicken

Star-shaped sandwiches

American Flag Fuit KabobsPatriotic ParfaitCracker Jack Box
Left: Photo courtesy of Party City, PartyCity.com; Middle: Photo courtesy of Tonya Staab; Right: Photo courtesy of Chris Nease, Celebrations at Home

Patriotic Party Games & Activities

Bobbing for apples

Tug-of-War – this can be played on land or in the pool

Flag Relay
     How to play:
     1. Divide guests into two or three teams
     2. Each team gets a bucket filled with miniature American flags (1 flag per teammate). Place buckets on opposite side of the yard.
     3. On the count of three, the first member from each team runs to their bucket, picks out a flag, and then runs back to tag the next player.
     4. The game continues until all of the members of a team have gotten their flag. The first team to finish wins.

Pie-eating contest - use mini patriotic pies with star cutouts

Mini Patriotic Pies
Photo courtesy of Chris Nease, Celebrations at Home

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Summer Fun for Kids

By Nate Armstrong

Fun Outdoor Activities

1. Sprinklers

A swimming pool, of course, is a great way to keep cool in the summer while keeping the kids occupied. But if you don’t have a pool, another way to keep cool and active is to connect a three-arm sprinkler toy to your garden hose or sprinkler system. Your kids will love the chance to run around the yard and play in the water.

2. Water Balloon Tosses

A water balloon toss is another fun and inexpensive outdoor activity and can be played a couple different ways, depending on how many people you have:

If there are an odd number of children, the kids can stand in a circle:

    1. 1. Have the kids stand in a circle, with two feet between each person.
    2. 2. Begin play by having one kid toss the water balloon to the person on their right.
    3. 3. The children continue tossing the water balloon to one another in a clockwise direction.
    4. 4. When a player drops or pops the water balloon, he/she is eliminated and the rest of the players must spread out another foot to compensate for the missing person. This is done each time a player is eliminated.
    5. 5. Continue to play and eliminate players until only one person is left. He/she is the winner and gets to toss the balloon first in the next round.

If there are an even number of children, the kids can play in pairs:

    1. 1. Divide all players into groups of two and give each pair a water balloon.
    2. 2. Line the players up in two lines, with partners facing each other, and have each person take a big step backwards.
    3. 3. Each player holding the water balloon gently tosses it to his/her partner. If their partner catches it, they each take another big step backwards. If the balloon breaks, the pair is eliminated.
    4. 4. Continue to play and until one pair is left.

3. Scavenger Hunts

You can map out a backyard scavenger hunt that can be played individually or in teams. Make a list of items for them to find and give each person or team a copy of the list, and let the scavenging begin. Include items that can easily be found in your backyard, such as a leaf, pine cone, flower, rock, and twig, as well as outdoor items that you can place around the yard, such as a water gun, a Frisbee, a pair of goggles, and a splash ball. Whoever returns with all the items first is the scavenger hunt champion.

4. “Drawn-Like-Me” Posters

A creative activity that can be done indoors or outdoors is to create “drawn-like-me” posters. You’ll need a large flat surface like your patio or driveway. You’ll also need a large roll of poster-size paper that you can purchase at craft stores or teacher supply stores. Have each child lay down on a piece of the poster paper, and then trace their outline with a pencil. Then let the kids take over and decorate their outlines with markers, crayons, sequins, and yarn for hair. They can make their drawings look like them or pirates, princesses, astronauts, or whatever they come up with.

5. Evening Activity: S’mores and a Story

After a long day of sun, fun, and games, settle down for the evening around an outdoor fireplace or firepit. (Make sure children are under adult supervision at all times.) Set up a s’mores station with marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars. You can even get creative with the ingredients, such as using chocolate chip cookies instead of graham crackers, and fruit slices or chocolate peanut butter cups instead of the chocolate bars. As they sit around the fire, let the kids create a collaborative story: Have them go around in a circle, letting each person contribute a sentence at a time. It allows each child to participate and can lead to some very entertaining stories! If they’d rather watch a movie, they may not need to head indoors after all: They can watch their favorite movie on an outdoor TV or inflatable screen

About the Author: This guest post was written by Nate Armstrong of Sprinkler Juice.


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Enter Hayward’s Poolside Stars Video Contest

If you enjoy spending time outside by the pool and have a minute to spare, you could become the next Poolside Star! Hayward® Pool Products is challenging its Facebook Fans to make a splash for cash by entering its PoolSide Stars Video Contest. The grand prize winner will take home $10,000 and could have his/her video used for a Hayward commercial. Here are the details:


Deadline: Entries are being accepted now through September 30, 2011.

How to submit:
Upload your video to 
Hayward's Facebook page

Video duration:
One-minute or less

What your video should be about:
Video submissions can focus on any pool- or pool-lifestyle-related subject as long as it’s deemed appropriate for the Hayward brand. The contest is intended to reflect the fun, relaxation and enjoyment of the backyard experience, says Bruce Porter, Hayward Director of Marketing Communications. “We want people to capture the essence of pure joy that swimming pools represent… The pool experience is about spending time with family and friends, health and happiness.”

Grand Prize, $10,000; Second Prize, $5,000; Third Prize, $1,000; Fan Favorite, $500; Most Original, $200; Best Use of Water, $200; and Honorable Mention, $100.

Judging and voting:
All winners—except for Fan Favorite—will be selected by a panel of judges. After the entry period ends, fans will be able to vote for their favorite video. The video with the most votes at the end of the voting period will win Fan Favorite and receive $500.

So get your creative juices flowing and have fun making a splash for cash! For more details, complete contest rules, and to see the current entries, visit 
Hayward's Facebook page and click the Like button.

About Hayward Pool Products

Hayward Pool Products, a division of Hayward Industries Inc., is the largest manufacturer of residential swimming pool equipment in the world. Headquartered in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Hayward designs, manufactures and markets the Totally Hayward® System, a full line of residential and commercial pool equipment including pumps, filters, heating, cleaners, sanitization, automation, lighting, safety and energy solutions.

The company, which has built its brand on innovation, energy-efficiency, safety and reliability, includes such brands as EcoStar®, TriStar®, Stratum® VRS, Super Pump®, Pro Logic®, Aqua Connect®, HeatPro®, ColorLogic®, Aqua Rite®, Navigator® Pro, Pool Vac XL, TigerShark®, among others.

Hayward products are sold through a network of distributors and 3,000 Totally Hayward Dealer Partners throughout the U.S., Canada, Asia, Australia, Latin America and the Middle East. For more information, contact Hayward at (908) 351-5400 or visit www.haywardpool.com.

Fun Pool Games for Kids

4 Free Pool Games

No purchase necessary, and no plastic required. All you need is a pool and a few fun-loving swimmers!

Now that the kids are out of school and summer has officially begun, kids are likely to be spending a great deal of time at the pool. Whether they are in their own backyard, at a friend’s pool, spending the day at a swim club, or hanging out with their friends at summer camp, pool games can be a lot of fun.

When you think of pool games, Marco Polo and Sharks & Minnows are the classics. Even Red Light, Green Light and Simon Says can be played in the water, but it doesn’t take long before kids become bored with the same old games. Luckily, those aren’t the only pool games kids can play when there’s no plastic toy or inflatable object in sight. Here are a few games to keep the fun going. Just remember to enforce safety and make sure kids under constant adult supervision when in or around the pool.



True or False

Number of players:
3 or more

Area of the pool: Best played in the shallow end where all players can stand, so racers can run in the water or swim to either side of the pool.

Setup: The “racers” start in the middle of the pool, an equal distance away from either side. Racers will be swimming to the left or right--not forward or backward. The right side of the pool is the “true” side and the left side is the “false” side. The “announcer” faces the racers and stays several feet away.

Object of the game: Racers try to swim to the correct side of the pool first, being the first one to tag the edge and win the point.

How to play: The announcer says a statement that all of the racers will be able to determine as true or false. For example, “In 11 years, I will be 21 years old” (a true statement if the announcer is 10) or “Mixing pink and orange makes green” (false). Each racer must quickly decide whether he thinks the answer is true or false, then swim to either edge of the pool to indicate his answer. (Racers do not say “true” or “false” out loud.) If a racer believes the statement is true, he must swim to the right side of the pool and touch the edge; if he believes the statement is false, he must swim to the left side and touch the edge. Whoever tags the correct edge first gets a point.

If one player touches the edge of the wrong side, the announcer must reveal that the player is incorrect. The other players then have a chance to swim to the correct side and win the point. The first racer to reach five points becomes the announcer.

Note: After saying each statement, the announcer must pay attention to see who reached the correct side first.

What makes it fun: The announcer can be as creative, silly, or tricky as he wants in the wording of his true/false statements, often making the racers laugh and hesitate for a few moments before deciding which direction to swim. However, the statement should be something that all players can figure out and not something that only the announcer or only one of the players would know.




of players:
3 or more

Area of the pool: Any depth; players can swim across the width of the pool for shorter swimming distance.

The “announcer” stays at one side of the pool and faces the “racers” who start at the opposite side of the pool.

Object of the game: One player and the announcer to race against one another, each trying to tag the other side of the pool first.

How to play: The announcer thinks of any kind of category—“colors,” for example. He says the category aloud, and then holds his ears and counts to 10. During this time, the racers must each think of a color and tell each other their answers, making sure the announcer doesn’t hear. Each racer must have a different answer. Let’s say Racer 1 chooses “pink” and Racer 2 chooses “green.” When the announcer is done counting, he faces the racers. One racer simply says “pink and green” so that the announcer knows the two answers, but does not know which racer chose which answer. (If there are more than three people playing, there will be additional racers.)

The announcer then says one of the answers (“green,” for example), and immediately starts swimming toward the racers’ side. The racer whose answer was green must immediately swim toward the announcer’s side. The first swimmer to reach the other side and shout “Toothpaste!” gets to be the announcer. (If the announcer wins, he remains the announcer.) The non-swimming racer(s) must pay attention to the race so he can declare who won.

Safety: Since two of the players are swimming in opposite directions, all players must be spaced far enough apart before the race begins so they can safely swim across the pool and tag the edge without running into the other swimmer.

What makes it fun: None of the players know which racer is going to swim against the announcer until right before the race begins. Kids can also be creative or silly in their choice of categories and answers.


Iced Tea, Lemonade

Number of players:
3 or more

Area of the pool: Any depth; racers can swim across the width of the pool for shorter swimming distance.

Setup: The “announcer” stays at one side of the pool and faces the “racers” who start at the opposite side of the pool.

Object of the game:
To reach the other side of the pool first, tagging the announcer’s hand and guessing the correct answer.

How to play: The announcer thinks of a movie, then states the initials of the movie title. Each racer begins to think of possible answers, and the announcer puts his arms out straight toward the racers. Any racer can say “more sugar” to get additional clues from the announcer. As soon as one of racers thinks he knows the answer, he swims quickly toward the announcer. Whoever touches the announcer’s hand first and then says the correct name of the movie is the winner. If that racer is wrong, he must swim back to the other side, and the other racers have a chance to answer. The racer who answers correctly becomes the announcer.

What makes it fun: Some movies have the same initials while others are hard to guess; the need for additional clues and multiple attempts at guesses makes players determined to be the one to reach the other side first and finally guess correctly.




Number of players: 2 or more

Area of the pool: This is a jumping game and should be played in the deepest part of the pool, or a depth that is safe to jump into.

Setup:  One person starts out as the “jumper” and stands out of the pool, a few steps back from the edge. The “announcer” (non-jumper) stays in the pool, but well out of the way of the jumper.

Object of the game:
To quickly shout a correct answer right before hitting the water as you jump in.

How to play: The announcer thinks of a category (such as “jungle animals”), then tells the jumper to go. Just as the jumper takes a few steps and is ready to jump, the announcer says the category aloud. The jumper must shout a correct answer (“monkeys,” for example), while jumping and have his answers be heard before going underwater. If the jumper says his answer fully before going underwater, he gets a point (but this game can easily be played without keeping score). After the jumper goes, he swims to the side, and it’s the announcer’s turn to jump. If playing with more than two people, the other players must wait their turn. The person who will be jumping next chooses the category for the person going before him. All players should pay attention and listen to the categories so that no categories are repeated. The goal is to force the jumper to think of an answer at the spur of the moment.

Players should take a few steps before jumping into the pool, but they should not run. The person who jumped in must swim safely to the side before the next person jumps in.

What makes it fun: Trying to simultaneously think of an answer and say it while in mid-air before plunging into the pool is quite entertaining for all players! Thinking of new and interesting categories is also fun and keeps the game challenging.
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