There's nothing better than a summertime pool party, but hosting one has its challenges. From keeping food and drinks chilled (not to mention free of pool water!), to dealing with glassware and warding off bugs, you need to put a little more thought into what's on the menu—and how to serve it. With these easy snack hacks, feeding (and toasting) your guests has never been easier. So go ahead and jump on in. Your poolside party awaits.
Related: The Best BBQ Menu for Summer Parties
1. Make Individual Snack Bags
Instead of serving snacks in bowls for people to grab by the handful (often with wet hands!) pack your favorite nibbles (such as popcorn, trail mix or veggie chips), in individually portioned paper bags. Label the bags so that your guests can grab a bag and go without leaving behind a soggy mess.
2. Serve Veggies & Dip in Bread Cups
For an easy appetizer that requires no utensils or cleanup, make bread cups to hold veggies and dip. Cut a baguette crosswise into 3- to 4-inch pieces, then pull out some of the soft bread inside each piece to form cups (save the inner bread for breadcrumbs). Fill the cups with dip, then arrange vegetable sticks on top. Not only can your guests eat the veggies and dip, but they can also eat the cup!
Related: Easy 5-Ingredient Dip Recipes
3. Pack Side Dishes into Small Lidded Jars
Prevent bugs (or pool water!) from getting into your food by packing cold side dishes, such as hearty grain salads, coleslaw or fruit, into small lidded jars (you can use plastic jars if you're concerned about glass near the pool). You can pack the jars ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator or in a cooler until it's time to serve.
4. Ditch Cocktail Glasses for Popsicle Sticks
For a portable take on cocktail hour, ditch the glasses and serve popsicles instead. These lightened-up homemade Margarita Ice Pops are spiked with tequila for a grown-up frozen treat that's both fun and refreshing. Best of all, they can be prepared up to a month ahead of time, freeing you up to tackle the rest of your party prep.
More Frozen Cocktails: How to Make Frosé (Frozen Rosé)
5. Serve Batch Cocktails and Mocktails in Juice Pouches
Forget having to play bartender when your guests arrive; instead, make large batches of cocktails and mocktails ahead of time and pour them into reusable plastic juice pouches, which can be purchased online. You won't need to worry about glass around the pool, and your guests will get to feel like kids again (as if the flamingo floatie wasn't enough).
6. Chill Your Drinks (and Food!) in a Kiddie Pool
Running low on cooler space? Keep your beverages and side dishes cold by storing them in a kiddie pool. Fill an empty inflatable pool with ice, then nestle in canned and bottled drinks as well as bowls of cold foods, such as salads and fruit (the food can be stored on ice for up to two hours).
7. Pre-Scoop Your Ice Cream
Instead of scooping ice cream in the heat (and watching it melt faster than you can serve it), make these two-ingredient Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches before the party even begins. Scoop strawberry frozen yogurt onto graham crackers, wrap the sandwiches individually in foil, and freeze them for up to a week. Serve the ice cream sandwiches straight out of the freezer for a hand-held and fuss-free dessert—no bowls required!
8. Keep Bugs Away with Herbs
Don't let mosquitoes ruin the party! Many insects are averse to certain herbs, such as lavender, sage and mint. Throw bunches of fresh or dried herbs into the fire pit or onto the embers of the grill after you're done cooking, and the (pleasantly scented!) smoke will help keep the bugs at bay.
9. Use a Baking Cup to Keep Bugs Out of Your Drink
Nothing's worse than finding a fly floating in your freshly mixed lemonade. To keep bugs out of your drink, top it with a paper baking cup. Pierce a hole in the bottom of a paper muffin liner, slide in a straw, then place the liner upside-down over your glass. Your drink will stay bug-free while you mingle or take a dip in the pool.
Try these: Summer Mocktail & Cocktail Recipes
Photos by Katrin Björk
Watch: How to Make Margarita Ice Pops